Warriors place 3rd at state wrestling tournament

by Tommy Wells

The Bethel Regional High School Warriors proved once again they are among the state’s elite wrestling programs this past weekend by placing third in the team standings at the 2018 ASAA Division II State Wrestling Championships in Anchorage.

Bethel rolled up 156.5 points and finished just half a point away from tying the Glennallen for second. Homer, which had finished second to Bethel in each of the last two years, won the state title with 180 points.

“Our boys team came in third place,” said Bethel head coach Darren Lieb. “While that was disappointing for us, we felt as a coaching staff that our showing this year was good with this young team, eight of the 12 (state qualifiers) were first-time state qualifiers. Nine of those 12 will be back next year.”

Hayden Lieb and Landon Smith both highlighted the Warriors’ success by wrestling their way to state titles.

Lieb capped a historic unbeaten season on Saturday by grinding out a perfect 4-0 mark in the 160-pound weight classification. His performance at the state meet enabled him to nail down his third consecutive state title with a perfect 34-0 record.

The BRHS junior kicked off his title run with decisive victories over Nome-Beltz’s Owen Hebel and Eielson’s Brayden Grorud and earned his way into the semifinals. In the third round, he powered his way to a 12-2 victory over Nikiski’s Koleman McCaughey. In the finals, Lieb capped his perfect season with a 4-1 decision over Grace Christian’s Gabe Martin.

Smith collected the Warriors’ second gold medal by winning the 103-pound division. He went 4-0 over the weekend, including an 11-7 victory over Wrangell’s Ryan Rooney in the championship bout.

Joseph Smith almost collected a third gold. The BRHS standout wrestled his way to second-place in the 112-pound classification with a 3-1 record.

He began his run to the runner-up honors by defeating Eielson’s Javier Pharms in the first round. From there, he defeated Mt. Edgecumbe’s Dayton Hoblet in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Smith turned in one of the biggest wins of the season by grinding out an impressive 6-0 victory over Dillingham’s Demetry Hoseth.

His bid for the 112-pound title came to an end in the title round with a 9-2 loss to ACS’ Caleb O’Hara.

Daniel Chakuchin, Elijah Lindley and Ryan Smith added to the Warriors’ medal count by taking third in their weight classes. Chakuchin posted a 4-1 record over the weekend, including a 6-5 victory over ACS’ Matt Bohlman. Lindley also worked his way to a 4-1 record. He defeated Nikiski’s Dustin Mullins in the third-place match.

Smith capped a 4-1 weekend with a victory over Wesley Verhamme of Haines in the 285-pound division.

Jamin Crow also turned in a solid performance. He finished sixth in the 152-pound standings.

Other BRHS grapplers competing in the state meet included Eddie Jimmy, Lawrence Bayer, Nicholai Chase and Kyle Valadez.

2018 ASAA Division II Boys Wrestling Championships Dec. 15-17 at Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage

No. Team, Points

1. Homer, 180.0; 2. Glennallen, 157.0; 3. Bethel, 156.5; 4. Dillingham, 115.0; 5. Unalaska, 85.5; 6. Grace Christian, 80.0; 7. Kotzebue, 78.5; 8. Redington, 78.0; 9. Mt. Edgecumbe, 71.5; 10. Wrangell, 70.0; 11. Voznesenka, 68.5; 12. Nome, 68.0; 13. Craig, 64.0; 14. Napaskiak, 59.5; 15. Sitka, 52.0; 16. Kenai, 50.0; 17. Nikiski, 48.5; 18. Eielson, 46.5; 19. Anchorage Christian, 46.0; 20. Barrow, 39.0; 21. Haines, 25.0; 22. Petersburg, 23.0; 23. New Stuyahok, 21.0; 24. Seward, 13.0; 25. Delta, 11.0; 25. Elim, 11.0; 27. Quinhagak, 10.0; 28. Nunapitchuk, 9.0; 29. Gambell, 8.0; 30. Emmonak, 7.0; 31. Stebbins, 6.0; 32. Chevak, 5.0; 33. Hutchinson, 3.0; 33. Kotlik, 3.0; 33. Manokotak, 3.0; 33. Shaktoolik, 3.0; 33. Susitna Valley, 3.0; 38. King Cove, 1.0; 38. Valdez, 1.0; 40. Akiachak, 0.0; 40. Alakanuk, 0.0; 40. Bristol Bay, 0.0; 40. Cordova, 0.0; 40. Galena, 0.0; 40. Hydaburg, 0.0; 40. Metlakatla, 0.0; 40. Nenana, 0.0; 40. Newhalen, 0.0; 40. Noatak, 0.0; 40. Noorvik, 0.0; 40. Sand Point, 0.0; 40. Savoonga, 0.0; 40. Thorne Bay, 0.0

54. Houston, -1.0.