Smith, Iverson turn heads at USA state wrestling tournament

The Bethel Freestyle Wrestling Club gathers for a team photo with coaches and wrestlers at the 2018 Alaska USA Wrestling State Championships this past weekend. photo courtesy of Darren Lieb

by Tommy Wells

Landon Smith and Maya Iverson wrestled their way into the Bethel Wrestling Club history books this past weekend at the USA Alaska State Wrestling Tournament. Overall, the two highlighted a stellar outing by the Bethel squad at three-day meet which was held May 3-5 at the Menard Sports Complex in Wasilla.
As a team, Bethel had more than 20 wrestlers place in each of the three divisions – folkstyle, freestyle and Roman-Greco – as well as nailing down three individual state titles in the girls’ state tournament.
Smith was among the top wrestlers at the folkstyle tournament on Thursday. Competing in the Schoolboy 97-pound weight classification, he posted an impressive 8-0 record en route to breezing to the title. He defeated Anchorage’s Blake Foster in the finals of the division at the 3:28 mark.
Smith came back on Friday and dominated the Greco tournament. He went 6-0 in the event, including a dominating 10-0 victory over Glennallen’s Keegan Delaquito in the championship match. En route to winning the title, he wrestled his notched three wins via pins that happened within the first 37 seconds of the bouts.
He finished off his Triple Crown run on Saturday with 6-0 effort in the freestyle division, including a 10-0 win over Delaquito in the finals.
Overall, Smith posted a 20-0 record during the three-day tournament.
While Smith was making history by becoming one of only a few Triple Crown winners, Iverson earned a spot in the BWC books by proving herself a workhorse. She participated in a record 11 matches on Friday while competing in both the girls’ and boys’ tournament.
Iverson kicked off her record-setting efforts by placing third in the girls’ Pre-Bantam 45-pound division. She wrestled her way to a 2-2 record. She also wrestled her way to third in the boys’ freestyle tournament, going 4-2 overall. She nailed down a bronze medal in the boys’ tournament by downing Glennallen’s Asher McMahon in her final outing.
Smith and Iverson weren’t the only Bethel wrestlers shining at the tournament.
On Thursday, Jarius Allain and Joseph Smith added their names to the team’s list of state champions. Allain won the Junior 113-pound title. The BRHS standout defeated Juneau’s Ricky Ramirez at the 1:16 mark of the first period.
Smith breezed to the 102-pound title in the Schoolboy division. He capped a perfect 6-0 run by downing Soldotna’s Ezekiel Miller in the championship match.
Zach Pleasant, Axel Madson and Paul Dyment each wrestled their way to state runner-up honors. Pleasant went 2-1 and finished second in the Open 134.5-144.3-pound classifications to Juneau’s Chad Requa. Madson turned in a 3-1 record and finished second in the Schoolboy 87-pound standings to Anchorage’s Ashton Volkman. Dyment won his first seven matches in the Novice 92-pound division and advanced to the finals to face off with Nikiski’s Cameron Cook.
Tyler Laraux, Ryan Chaney, Cameron McCarr and Ethan Wheeler all wrestled their way to third-place marks in their respective divisions. Wheeler was the bronze medalist in the Intermediate 84-pound standings, while McCarr was third in the Novice 98-pound bracket. Chaney was third in the Schoolboy 77-pound classification, while Laraux took third in the Schoolboy 114-pound bracket.
Leah Valadez, Mason Fitka, Zahcory Jacobs-McDonald, John Brink and Gunnar Fitka all placed fourth in the divisions, while Julian Sebastian, Sheldon Smith, Jordan Leinberger and Travis Chaney posted fifth-place marks. Shaun Peter and Elliot Gill garnered sixth-place finishes.
As a team, Bethel had 21 of its 31 wrestlers finish in the top six in the folkstyle tournament.
Bethel was equally as dominant in the Greco tournament on Friday. The team had 17 of its 21 wrestlers entered into the tournament earn spots in the top six in their respective weight classifications.
Alain added a second state title to his resume by winning the Junior 113-pound Greco title.
Paul Dyment also grabbed a state title in the Greco division. The Bethel standout went 6-1 and rolled to the Novice 92-pound crown. He notched the win by avenging his only loss of the tournament in the finals by downing Nikiski’s Cameron Cook.
Cook had handed Dyment a 14-4 loss in the quarterfinal round.
Madson, Joseph Smith, Laraux and Pleasant all finished second in their divisions, while Ethan Wheeler, Ryan Chaney and Travis Chaney wrestled their way to third-place medals. Mason Fitka took fourth in the Novice 114-pound standings, while Cameron McCarr and Jordan Leinberger and Hunter Secor all battled their way to fifth in their classifications. Gunnar Fitka, Ellis Johnson and Shaun Peter were all sixth-place finishers.
Also placing were Anderson Gill, who took third in the Pre-Bantam’s 62-pound division, and Zayden Boyer, who finished third in the Pre-Bantam 70-pound standings. Teil McIntyre and Cole Iverson placed fourth in the brackets.
Bethel continued to flex its muscle on Saturday. The team had 20 of its 39 wrestlers entered into the freestyle tournament earn top six spots, including first-place performances from Joseph Smith, Allain and Pleasant.
Smith won his second gold of the weekend by wrestling his way to a perfect 7-0 mark in the Schoolboy 102-pound bracket.
Allain won the Junior 113-pound title, while Pleasant garnered the Open crown.
Paul Dyment and Laraux added second-place marks, while Claire Dyment and Axel Madson finished third in their respective classifications. Ethan Wheeler, James McMillen, Sheldon Smith, Patricio Vasquez, Zachory Jacobs-McDonald, Ryan Cheery, Secor and Travis Chaney all claimed fourth-place finishes, while Leinberger and Leah Valadez took fifth. Mason Fitka and John Brink both nailed down sixth-place marks.
Isabelle Lieb and Claire Dyment highlighted Bethel’s efforts in the girls’ wrestling tournament on Friday. Both turned more than a few heads by powering themselves to state titles.
Dyment won the girls’ Intermediate 50-pound title by grinding out a 3-0 record, including a dominating win over Arctic Warriors’ Maya Cooper in the finals.
Lieb, who posted a perfect 5-0 record, won the girls’ Novice 118-pound championship. She nailed down the crown by defeating Soldotna’s Daisy Lyn Hannevold in the finals at the 52-second mark of their match.
Trinity Geerdts and Mary Brown just missed claiming titles. Geerdts finished second in the Schoolboy 92-pound division. Brown was second in the Junior 106-pound bracket.
Saige Wheeler, Isabelle Fitka, Brielle Herron and Briana Henry all placed third in their respective divisions.

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