by Tommy Wells
Hayden Lieb etched his name amongst the great in Bethel Regional High School history on Saturday. The BRHS standout became one of only a handful of Alaska wrestlers to earn All-American honors four years in a row by wrestling his way to a second-place finish at the 2018 Tournament of Champions in Reno, Nevada.
Only the top three wrestlers in each weight classification of the two-day event earn All-American distinction.
Competing in the 160-pound classification, Lieb proved himself one of the top wrestlers in the country by grinding out a 5-1 record that included wins over the country’s No. 2- and No.3-ranked wrestlers.
Seeded sixth at the start of the tournament, Lieb opened action with a flurry. He scored a dominating 11-0 victory in his first-round match, and then powered his way to a convincing 18-2 win in the second round. He moved into the quarterfinals with a forfeit win in the third round.
In the quarterfinals, he dispatched third-seeded Justin Wood of Carlsbad, Calif., in a thrilling 4-2 decision. Lieb topped that effort in the semifinals by slipping past the No. 2-seeded wrestler, Kekana Fouret, by a 1-0 margin.
Lieb rode Fouret out for almost the entire second period en route to claiming the win.
In the finals, he suffered a loss to Christopher Fasana of Pueblo County, Colo., 7-4.
Landon and Joseph Smith also turned in solid outings at the tournament. Both competed in the 106-pound division.
Joseph Smith, after claiming a 3-1 win over Landon in the first round of consolation play, won four matches at the tournament.
Bethel coach Darren Lieb praised Joseph for his accomplishment.
“He went on to win four matches on the back side,” said Lieb, who guided the BRHS wrestling team to third in last week’s Division II state tournament. “Not bad for a freshman to do so in such a high-powered tournament.”
Landon went 0-2 in the tournament.
“Although they (Joseph and Landon) didn’t place, they gained a lot of experience,” Lieb said.