Burroughs claims third straight CIC crown
Third time’s a charm.
Richard Burroughs has proven that proverb right two years in a row.
And he has a collection of crowns to go along with those charms.
After having lost two previous matches this season to West’s Lui Fa’amasino, Burroughs pinned him in 5:49 to win his third consecutive 220-pound Cook Inlet Conference wrestling title Saturday, Feb. 1.
It was the second straight year the Chugiak High senior defeated an opponent who won their first two meetings of the season. Last year, Burroughs defeated Derek Zorea, of Service, after losing to him twice in the 2012-13 season.
Fa’amasino replaced Zorea — who graduated last year — as Burroughs’ toughest competitor in the conference.
“He was my rival this year,” Burroughs said.
Burroughs said his training enabled him to keep fighting during the grueling match. Both grapplers were near exhaustion when Burroughs pinned Fa’amasino with just 11 seconds left in regulation with the score tied 4-4.
“I was dead tired,” Burroughs said. “He was just a little bit extra.”
Also joining Burroughs at the top of the podium were Chugiak senior Robert Huffer (152) and Eagle River High senior Ed Hall (195).
Huffer, who held a 4-0 advantage late in the match, pinned South’s Josh Noe in 5:52. Huffer said when he had Noe on his back, he told himself, “I’m not letting him up.”
The home crowd let out one of the loudest roars of the day as soon as the referee slapped the mat signaling a pin.
Noe won their only other meeting of the season, but Huffer said he had just cut weight and had little energy. This time around, Huffer said, his full ability was on display.
“It feels good,” he said. “I’ve made steady progress over my four years.”
But, Huffer has no intention on settling for a conference title. He — like the other two local conference champs — wants to finish his career as the state’s top grappler.
“I’m not trying to celebrate too soon,” Huffer said. “I’m keeping my eye on the bigger goal.”
After taking last year off, Hall picked up right where he left off and made the finals. This time, though, he came away victorious.
Hall said his hold on West’s Josh Reed was slipping just as the whistle blew indicating a pinfall victory in 4:55.
“My grip was just about to break,” he said.
Taking his matches one at a time will be key if Hall wants to win a state title — one of the goals he set at the start of the season.
“I’m about as conditioned as you can get,” Hall said. “I just have to wrestle smart.”
Two other Wolves reached the finals.
Senior Xavier Horton (170) was pinned by East’s Cesar Guzman in 5:14 in a match riddled with blood stoppages. (East coaches eventually wrapped tape around Guzman’s head and under his nostrils to keep his nose from bleeding).
The same two met during last year’s 152-pound title match, with Horton winning in overtime.
Eagle River sophomore Gavin Arnold (138) fell 14-7 to South’s Kraig Hammond, who won his fourth straight CIC crown.
Eagle River is sending six wrestlers to the Class 4A state tournament, which will be held Friday and Saturday, Feb. 7-8 at Bartlett. The top six CIC grapplers earn state berths.
The other state-bound Wolves besides Hall, Horton and Arnold include Marcus Amico (113), Hayden Riebe (145) and Michael Prado (152), who all finished sixth in the conference.
Chugiak is sending nine to state. Joining Huffer and Burroughs will be Dallas Mayhew (106), Dustin Holta (138), Austin Rochon (145), Brandon Lowe (160), Jesse Nelson (182), Toren Cheely (182) and Blake Johnston (220).
At the conference tournament, Lowe placed fourth; Holta, Rochon and Nelson were fifth; and Mayhew, Cheely and Johnston finished sixth.
South defended its team title with 376 points. Chugiak (145 points) was sixth and Eagle River (110.5) finished seventh.