by Tommy Wells
The Bethel Regional High School Warriors retained their hold on the Great Alaska Conference title this past weekend with an impressive showing in the WarriorDome. The Warriors wrestled their way to 13 first-place finishes and easily rolled to the conference wrestling crown.
As a team, Bethel had 16 wrestlers nail down berths in the upcoming state wrestling tournament by either finishing first or second in their respective weight classifications.
“We had another great weekend of wrestling,” said BRHS head coach Darren Lieb. “We started off a bit behind but finished on time even with the Trackwrestling server going down. (We) had to go old school for a few matches.”
Bethel scored 233 points in the two-day tournament and easily edged out Unalaska for the top spot. Akiachak, Napaskiak and Emmonak rounded out the top five squads in the standings.
Bethel’s Hayden Lieb, the Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament, highlighted the Warriors’ domination of the regional meet. A defending Class 3A state champion, he improved to 26-0 for the season by grinding out three impressive wins in front of the home crowd. He capped his outing on Saturday by downing Unalaska’s Landen Shaishnikoff in the 160-pound finals.
Like Lieb, Jamin Crow and Ryan Smith also punched their ticket to the state meet, which is scheduled for this weekend at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. Crow wrestled his way to a 2-0 mark, including a 14-4 victory over Unalaska’s Alexander Esnardo Jr. in the finals of the 145-pound division. Smith won the boys’ heavyweight crown by edging out Emmonak’s Nathaniel Bagongon in the 285-pound bracket.
Jarvis Evans and Lawrence Bayer made sure the Warriors will be well represented at the state tournament in the 152-pound bracket by sweeping the top two spots. Evans won the division by edging his teammate in the championship bout.
Landon Smith, and Joseph Smith added to the Warriors’ gold-medal count with outstanding performances in their weight brackets. Landon improved to 30-3 for the season by wrestling his way to a perfect 3-0 mark over the weekend. He defeated Napaskiak’s Seth Jacob in the 103-pound finals.
Joseph posted a 10-2 victory over Napaskiak’s Stephen Alexie in the title round of the 112-pound bracket.
Nicholai Chase, Elijah Lindley and Daniel Chakuchin also earned trip to state. Chase was crowned the winner in the 171-pound classification, while Lindley took second in the 215-pound standings. After dropping an 11-5 decision to Unalaska’s Seth Hennings in the first-place bout, Lindley secured his state berth with a win over Napaskiak’s Isaac Joekay in the second-place match.
Chakuchin finished second in the 130-pound division, finishing behind Unalaska’s Blaine Hennings.
Bethel also collected a solid showing from Bradley Oulton, who placed third in the 119-pound standings. Charles Smith, Kaliyu Tsosie, Sinka Williams and Kyle Valadez all placed fourth in their divisions.
Like the BRHS boys, the Lady Warriors also flexed plenty of muscle in the girls’ matches. Dellarae Charlie highlighted a list of six Lady Warriors to claim first-place finishes at the GAC meet.
Charlie, who improved to 15-1 for the year, capped a stellar showing by the BRHS girls in the 103-pound division by winning both of her bouts.
Kelsie Madson and Cadence Cedars finished third and sixth, respectively, in the 103-pound standings.
Jaron Mute and Rebecca Samuelson also netted golds, as did Fiona Phelan. Mute improved to 21-3 for the year with a 2-0 mark at the regional meet. She claimed the Great Alaska Conference title in the 125-pound division with a 9-3 victory over Scammon Bay’s Charity Boyscout.
Samuelson, now 20-4, edged out Nunapitchuk’s Nikki Nick in the 130-pound finals, while Phelan took the 119-pound title by outwrestling out Akiachak’s Shereese Jackson.
Beth Hensley placed fourth in the 125-pound division.
Lindsey Beans-Polk and Alexis Kinegak also netted Great Alaska Conference titles. Beans-Polk, named the Outstanding Wrestler for the girls division, won the 135-pound title by downing Scammon Bay’s Justina Wilson in the title bout. Kinegak netted the 235-pound crown.
Shanna Mendenhall and Brienna Henry helped Bethel turn in a solid showing in the girls’ 145-pound division. Mendenhall placed third in the final standings. Henry took fourth.
Lieb, who expressed his appreciation to the many local wrestling boosters, said the Warriors could land additional spots in the state tournament this week when ASAA officials announces its at-large berths.
Great Alaska Conference Final Team Standings
1. Bethel; 233.0; 2. Unalaska; 166.0; 3. Akiachak; 81.0; 4. Napaskiak; 73.0; 5. Emmonak; 60.0; 6. Quinhagak; 59.0; 7. Nunapitchuk; 53.0; 8. Alakanuk; 37.0; 9. Chevak; 24.0; 10. Kwethluk; 21.0; 11. Kotlik; 20.0; 12. Kalskag; 11.0; 12. Mt Village; 11.0; 14. Marshall; 8.0; 15. Napakiak; 7.0; 16. Hooper Bay; 0.0; 16. Nunam Iqua; 0.0; 16. Pilot Station; 0.0; 16. Scammon Bay; 0.0; 16. St Mary’s; 0.0.