by Tommy Wells
Landon Smith powered his way to the 103-pound championship on Saturday and led the Bethel Regional High School Warriors to a fifth-place finish at the earthquake-shortened Grizzly Grappler at Grace Christian School in Anchorage.
Despite a 7.0 earthquake that forced more than 300 wrestlers to scramble out of the gymnasium on Friday morning, the 12 BRHS grapplers managed to regroup well enough to roll up 81 points. Many of the Anchorage and Mat-Su teams did not participate in the tournament following the earthquake, leaving just 26 teams on the mat for the final day.
“There were no injuries,” said Bethel head coach Darren Lieb. “All 12 Bethel wrestlers were a bit scared but were OK.”
Smith was more than OK in his division. He wrestled his way to a perfect 3-0 mark, including an 8-2 victory over teammate Eddie Jimmy in the championship round. Prior to downing Jimmy, he opened the tournament with a 16-second win over Kivalina’s Brian Adams. From there, he defeated Grace Christian’s John Harris by a 7-0 clip.
Jimmy won his first two matches, downing East Anchorage’s Daveon Parton by a 15-0 margin in his first-round bout, and defeating Noatak’s Micah Mitchell in the semifinals.
Daniel Chakuchin and Austin Hunter also garnered medals, placing third in their respective divisions. Chakuchin posted a 3-1 mark in the 130-pound bracket. After dropping a semifinal decision to Grace’s Jackson Reger, he wrestled his way into the third-place bout with a win over Kotzebue’s Coltrane Chase. In the third-place bout, he grinded out a 7-4 victory over Homer’s Ian Stovall.
Hunter turned in a 4-1 record in the meet and placed third in the 152-pound division. He defeated Bethel teammate Lawrence Bayer in the third-place match.
Bayer, Jordan Leinberger and Shaun Peter all wrestled their way to fourth-place finishes. Bayer was 4-2 overall in the 152-pound ranks. Leinberger went 2-2 in the 145-pound classifications, while Peter was 1-2 in the 189-pound class.
Other BRHS wrestlers competing in the tournament included Charles Smith, Max Black, Nicholai Chase, Simon Snow and Kyle Valadez.
The BRHS squad will return to action this weekend by competing in the Great Alaska Conference meet. The top two finishers in each classification at the GAC meet will advance to the state wrestling tournament on Dec. 14-15 in Anchorage.
Grizzly Grappler Held Dec. 1 at Grace Christian School in Anchorage Final results
Homer, 158.5; Grace Christian, 154.0; Soldotna, 130.5; Kotzebue, 91.0; Bethel, 81.0; East Anchorage, 62.5; Colony, 22.5; Noatak, 20.0; Selawik, 12.0; Kobuk, 11.0; Buckland, 2.5; Anchorage Christian, 0.0; Bartlett, 0.0; Cordova, 0.0; Dimond, 0.0; Eagle River, 0.0; Kenai, 0.0; Kivalina, 0.0; Nikiski, 0.0; Nome, 0.0; Palmer, 0.0; Redington, 0.0; Service, 0.0; Shungnak, 0.0; South Anchorage, 0.0; Wasilla, 0.0.