by Tommy Wells
Landon Smith and Zachariah Pleasant both won a pair of first-place finishes and a second in another at the 2017 Alaska USA State Wrestling Championships this past weekend at the Menard Sports Complex.
During the weekend, wrestlers competed in three state tournaments, including the Freestyle, Folkstyle and Roman-Greco forms of the sport.
Smith and Pleasant both garnered impressive wins in the Folkstyle tournament, which was held on Friday, and helped power the Bethel Wrestling Club to a 10th-place finish in the team standings. Tri-Valley won the Folkstyle team crown. They rolled up 216 points in the tournament and edged out the Arctic Warriors by 2 points.
One of 16 Bethel wrestlers to place in the top six in their weight classifications on Friday, Smith dominated the Schoolboy 84-pound division. He went 4-0 in the meet, including an impressive 5-3 decision over Cordova’s Elias Cordell in the finals.
Smith, who posted a 12-1 record in the three-day outing, also collected a gold medal in Saturday’s Freestyle tournament, finishing with a 5-0 record. His bid for a sweep of the weekend’s tournaments ended on Friday with a loss to Cordell in the Roman-Greco finals.
Pleasant took first in the Folkstyle and Roman-Greco formats, and finished second in the Freestyle’s Open 123.5 division.
Ryan Smith also collected a gold medal for the Warriors in the Folkstyle tournament. He rebounded from an early loss to fight his way back to the title round. In the finals, he avenged his earlier loss to Interior Youth’s Jason Edwards by grabbing a thrilling 10-9 win.
Smith finished second in the Roman-Greco and Freestyle standings.
Seth Smith and Sven Williams also turned in outstanding performances over the weekend by placing in the top three in all three tournaments. Smith finished second in the Folkstyle’s Junior 126-pound standings. He was also second in the Freestyle meet and third in the Roman-Greco standings. Williams netted a gold medal in the Roman-Greco meet with a victory over Juneau’s Derek Mason. He followed that with second-place marks in the Folkstyle and Freestyle events.
Joseph Smith and Wade Kinegak Merculief added to Bethel’s gold-medal count, too. Smith, coming off a tough fifth-place finish in the Roman-Greco standings, dominated the Freestyle meet. He went 6-2 in the Schoolboy 91-pound division and emerged as the champion.
Merculief won the Intermediate 120-pound title in the Freestyle tournament.
Jarius Allain, Mianaq Alexie-Leonard and Landon Burke also performed well over the weekend. Allain finished third in the Junior 126-pound standings in the Folkstyle meet, and fourth in the Freestyle standings. He capped his outing with a second-place effort in the Roman-Greco division. Alexie-Leonard took home a bronze medal with a third-place finish in the Roman-Greco Junior 152-pound standings. He was fifth in his Folkstyle and Freestyle classes.
Burke netted a second-place mark in the Intermediate 112-pound classification in the Freestyle tournament.
Amber Wade, Nelson Evan and Paul Dyment all wrestled their way to fourth-place marks in the Folkstyle division. Wade competed in the Junior 132-pound class, while Evan wrestled in the Cadet 120 ranks. Dyment competed in the Novice 75 ranks.
Evan also finished fifth in his Roman-Greco division.
Cameron McCarr and Ellis Johnson each took fifth in their Folkstyle weight classes, while teammate Tyler Tikiun, Peyton Glore, and Nuqarrluk Alexie-Leonard were sixth in their divisions.
Johnson was fourth in his Novice 95-pound standings in Roman-Greco.
Ethan Wheeler claimed a fifth-place finish in the Freestyle tournament’s Intermediate 75 ranks. Lindsey Beans-Polk was sixth in the Freestyle’s Cadet 145-pound standings, while teammate Shawn Peters and Sheldon Smith were sixth in their divisions.
Bethel also picked up stellar performances from several other wrestlers in the tournament, including Alvin Vasquez, Elia Samuelson, Shawn McIntyre, Ryan Chaney, Elliot Gill, Patricio Vasquez, Mason Fitka, Tyler Laraux, Travis Chaney, Joshua Pavil, Madison Glore, Julian Stanley, Saige Wheeler, Cole Iverson, Lance Chaney, Michael Kinegak Merculief, Jackson Iverson, Sterling White, Gunnar Fitka, Van Kapsner and Alexis Evon.
As a team, the Bethel Wrestling Club was 11th in the Freestyle wrestling standings.