Seniors look to repeat as CIC wrestling champions

Tournament starts Friday at Chugiak


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Chugiak’s Jesse Nelson, left, and Eagle River’s Xavier Horton square off during the final dual of the season Thursday, Jan. 23 at Chugiak.

MIKE NESPER

Chugiak High senior Richard Burroughs has won a Cook Inlet Conference wrestling title the past two years. But a three-peat isn’t guaranteed for the 220-pounder.

Burroughs said the weight class isn’t as strong as past years, but he’ll have to be at his best to defend his title.

“It thinned out, but there’s still a couple good people,” he said. “I’ll definitely have to fight for it.”

The same goes for Xavier Horton.

“I got to keep working,” said the Eagle River High senior. “There’s some tough people.”

Horton won at 152 pounds last season. He’s wrestling at 170 this year, which is much closer to his normal weight.

“It’s a comfortable weight because I don’t have to cut,” Horton said.

Ed Hall and Robert Huffer are also eyeing conference titles.

Hall, a 195-pound Eagle River senior, made the finals at 182 pounds as a sophomore. He didn’t wrestle last season.

A 152-pound Chugiak senior, Huffer said he needs to get past South’s Josh Noe to claim the title.

“He’s definitely the one to beat,” Huffer said.

Chugiak’s had its ups and downs, Huffer said, but the team is coming together at the end of the season.

“We’re trying to peak at the right time,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of people who are doing good.”

Last year, Chugiak sent 10 grapplers to state. The top six CIC wrestlers earn Class 4A state berths.

Seven Wolves went to state last season. Eagle River wants to top that this year — and Horton thinks they have the squad to do it.

“We’re prepared,” he said.

Hall attributed the team’s readiness to first-year head coach Chris Ruggles.

“He’s setting us up so we peak at this time,” Hall said.

Ruggles’ tough practices were a major factor for the Wolves’ improvement as a team, Horton said.

“We’ve been working a lot harder,” he said.

Horton rattled off several of his teammates’ names that have a legitimate chance of punching their ticket to state.

“There’s a lot of people who can place at regions this year,” he said.

Wrestlers got a much-needed week off following the season’s final dual Jan. 23. Entering the tournament healthy is key, Hall said.

The CIC tournament will be held Friday, Jan. 31 and Saturday, Feb. 1 at Chugiak. Wrestling at home gives a boost to Chugiak, Huffer said, as the gym should be filled with screaming black-and-blue-clad Mustang fans.

 

Chugiak 41, Eagle River 36

Chugiak edged visiting Eagle River 41-36 in the regular season’s final dual Jan. 23. Max Ditzler (160), Brandon Lowe (170), Dallas Mayhew (106), Tyler Frazier (120) and Huffer (152) won by pin for Chugiak. Josh Luff (113) and Justin Toth (126) earned pinfall victories for Eagle River.

 

Eagle River 40, East 38

Toth (126) and Marcus Amico (132) won by pin for Eagle River in the Wolves’ 40-38 win over East on Jan. 22.

 

West 53, Chugiak 16

Lowe (160) had the lone pinfall victory for Chugiak in a 53-16 loss to West on Jan. 22.

 

Contact Star editor Mike Nesper at 694-2727.

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