Bethel repeats as Great Alaska Conference wrestling champions

BRHS senior Thomas Dyment gets ready to pin his opponent Curtis Jeppeson of Unalaska in the 113 lb. division championship match during last weekend's regional tournament. photo by Greg Lincoln

by Tommy Wells

Thomas Dyment moved a step closer to capping his high school wrestling career with a perfect season this past Saturday. And, in doing so, he also helped the Bethel Regional High School Warriors put themselves in position to repeat as the state champion.

Backed by Dyment’s run at perfection, the Warriors rolled up 299 points and cruised to the Great Alaska Conference championship. Bethel, which has 20 wrestlers finish first or second in their respective weight classifications, scored 71 more points that their nearest competition, Unalaska. Napaskiak finished third.

A senior, Dyment highlighted the Warriors’ efforts. He turned in a 3-0 record en route to breezing to the 113-pound title. Now 34-0 heading into this weekend’s Division II state tournament, he pinned all three of his opponents in the tournament, which was held in the BRHS WarriorDome.

Dyment began his run at the conference championship by with a quick victory over Robert Stanislaus of Alakanuk. He pinned Stanislaus at the 1:52 mark of the first period. Then followed that with a victory over Nunam Iqua’s Dale Pete in the semifinals.

A three-time state titlist, Dyment nailed down the GAC title by defeating Unalaska’s Curtis Jeppesen in the finals.

Dyment won the Class 1-2-3A 98-pound state title in 2014 and 2015, and took the 106-pound championship a year ago.

Hayden Lieb also made sure he would have a chance to become a multiple-title winner. The 132-pound state champion as a freshman, Lieb punched a return trip to the state tournament cruising to the Great Alaska Conference’s 145-pound championship with a perfect 3-0 mark.

Now 32-3 for the season, Lieb defeated Alakanuk’s Jeremiah Hootch in the 145-pound finals.

Hootch, following his loss to Lieb, saw his bid for a berth in the state meet come to an end. He suffered a setback to Unalasla’s Landen Shaishnikoff in the second-place contest.

Jarius Allain, Seth Smith and Mathew Hunter added to Bethel’s gold-medal count by winning their respective weight classifications. Allain improved to 28-7 en route to winning the 106-pound title. He edged out teammate Travis Chaney in the finals.

Chaney rebounded from the loss nicely. He upended Nunapitchuk’s Aiden Nicholai in the second-place match and will advance to the state meet and the GAC’s 106-pound runner-up. Only the top two finishers in each weight classification earn berths in the state tournament, which will be held Dec. 15-16 at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.

Smith and Avery Hoffman gave Bethel another 1-2 finish in the 120-pound classification. Smith, 26-11 overall, completed a 4-0 run through the division by claiming a 3-2 tie-breaker victory over Hoffman in the championship match.

Hoffman came back strong from the loss. The BRHS senior claimed a win via rile over Unalaska’s John Esnardo Jr. in the second-place match.

Hunter defeated Blaine Henning of Unalaska by a 5-3 margin to claim the 126-pound title.

Mian Alexie-Leonard, Sven Williams and Ryan Smith also collect gold medals for the Warriors. Alexie-Leonard, now 25-8, earned a berth in the state meet by winning the 152-pound championship. He edged out Akiachak’s Milton Charles in the championship bout. Charles finished second in the classification.

Williams wrestled his way to a victory over Unalaska senior Talon Shaishnikoff in the 182-pound finals, while Ryan Smith took the 285-pound class with a victory over Unalaska’s Matthew Faoasau.

A junior, Smith heads into the state tournament with a 26-7 record.

Mathew Ferguson, Kyle Valadez, Elijah Lindley and Hunter Secor also punched their tickets to state. Ferguson finished second to Napaskiak’s Alex Larson in the 160-pound division, Valadez was second to Unalaska’s Seth Henning in the 195-pound bracket. Lindley defeated Unalaska’s Johnny Khongsuk in the second-place bout in the 220-pound classification.

Aniak’s Andrew Wilson won the 220-pound title.

Secor was second to Napaskiak’s Stephen Maxie in the 98-pound class.

Nuq Alexie-Leonard went 5-2 in the tournament and finished third in the 138-pound division. After opening the tournament with an 11-10 loss to Scammon Bay’s Joe Uttereyuk, Alexie-Leonard worked his way through the consolation bracket with four straight wins to earn a showdown with teammate Jamin Crow in the third-place matchup.

Crow finished fourth with a 3-2 mark. BRHJS teammate Terrel Jimmy also wrestled in the 138-pound division.

Shawn Peter, Daniel Chakuchin and Adrian Smith placed fourth in their classifications, while Nicholai Chase and Austin Fitka netted sixth-place marks.

Kyle Chung and Kieran Samuelson also participated in the tournament for the Warriors.

The Warriors weren’t the only Yukon-Kuskokwim squad garnering state berths at the tournament. Quinhagak’s Collin Brown earned a trip to Anchorage with a second-place finish in the 132-pound division as did Joe Uttereyuk of Scammon Bay in the 138 lb. division.

Aniak’s Justin Ward won the boys’ 170-pound championship.

Great Alaska Conference Team Results

1. Bethel 299; 2. Unalaska 228; 3. Napaskiak 82; 4. Quinhagak 46; 5. Alakanuk 40; 5. Aniak 40; 7. Akiachak 35; 8. Scammon Bay 34; 9. Nunapitchuk 30; 10. Chevak 23; 11. Emmonak 17; 12. Kotlik 10; 13. Kalskag 7; 14. Pilot Station 6; 15. Hooper Bay 5; 16. Nunam Iqua 4; 17. Akiak 3; 18. Chefornak 1; 19. Kuskokwim Learning Academy 0; 19. Tuntutuliak 0.