by Tommy Wells
Landon Smith found the perfect way to close out the regular season for the Bethel Wrestling Club. He wrestled his way to a perfect 5-0 record and helped Bethel turn in a stellar showing at the Avalanche Wrestling Association tournament, which was held this past weekend at South Anchorage High School.
Smith, one of five Bethel wrestlers competing in the tournament, dominated the Schoolboy 86-94-pound division. He outscored his five opponents by a staggering 57-20, including a 17-9 win over Alaska Battle Cats’ star Blake Foster in the first-place match.
He kicked off his appearance in the tournament with a pair of easy wins, downing Tri-Valley’s Colton Henry and Chugach’s Cade Kohler in back-to-back 10-0 decisions. After a 3-2 win over Mat-Su’s Garret Blydenburg, he bested Foster in the finals.
Hayden Lieb and Joseph Smith both claimed silver medals with second-place finishes. Lieb, who will join BRHS teammate Thomas Dyment in competing in the U.S. Open Tournament next week in Las Vegas, took second in the Cadet 144-158-pound division. He went 4-2 overall, with his only losses coming to eventual champion Jacob Anderson of Soldotna.
Joseph Smith rebounded from a first-round loss to win four straight and take second in the Schoolboy 89-96-pound standings. He suffered a narrow 10-8 loss to Copper River’s Alex Buck in the the championship match.
Ethan Wheeler and Ellis Johnson also participated in the tournament.
The Bethel Wrestling Club will be well represented at this week’s 2017 Alaska USA State Wrestling Tournament, which will be held at the Wasilla Sports Complex ion April 27-28. The Bethel Wrestling Club will have 56 wrestlers participate in the event.