Morrison goes out on top
Chugiak senior Garrett Morrison easily handled Kodiak’s Charlie Johnson in the finals of the 182 pound weight class at the ASAA Alaska Class 4A State Wrestling Championships to earn his first state wrestling title on Saturday, Feb. 4 at Bartlett High.
“It feels great,” Morrison said after defeating Johnson for the second time this season.
Morrison’s win led seven place-winners for the eighth-place Mustangs. Also placing for Chugiak were Alex Medeiros (3rd at 195 pounds), Chase Jury (5th, 126), Karson Forbush (5th, 160), Richard Burroughs (5th, 220), Kody Trombley (5th, 285) and Colten Jury (6th, 138).
Morrison said Johnson proved to be a difficult opponent in the finals.
“His stance was different this time,” Morrison said. “He put up a good fight.”
Chugiak coach Tom Huffer Jr. said he couldn’t be prouder of Morrison, who commercial fishes with the Huffer family in Bristol Bay during the summer.
“He’s just a great kid,” Huffer said. “He’d run through a brick wall for you.”
Morrison’s win helped Chugiak hold onto its claim to having the most individual state champions of any Alaska school — although with five championships Saturday, Service moved into a tie at the top. Each school has now won 58 individual wrestling titles, while second-place West Valley has 55.
Eagle River finished 11th in the team standings, the same as last season. The Wolves were led by fourth-place finishes from seniors Dominic Taus (145) and Logan Sheets (170). Also placing for Eagle River were juniors Jachi Madubuko (5th, 195) and Zack Luff (6th, 120). The four placers also equaled last season’s mark.
Taus, who made the state finals as a junior last season, was pinned by Soldotna’s Auston Tennis during the semifinals on Friday. Taus was leading Tennis at the time, but Wolves coach Daren Williams said the peninsula wrestler managed to work a head-and-arm combination that proved to be the difference.
“He just got caught,” Williams said.
Cook Inlet Conference champion Service won the team title, beating Wasilla by 36 points. Kodiak was third, followed by South and East.
Of the seven Chugiak placewinners, all but Morrison and Trombley have eligibility left. Colten Jury is just a freshman, Forbush and Burroughs are sophomores, and Chase Jury and Medeiros are juniors. The seven placers was also a significant increase over last season’s four.
“That says we’re making positive strides,” Huffer said.
The Chugiak coach said he felt like his athletes wrestled their best during the final two weekends of the season.
“We wrestled way above our ability,” Huffer said. “We’re ecstatic.”
Forbush said this year’s team seemed to get better as the season wore on.
“We really came together as a team,” he said.
Here’s a breakdown of how each of the consolation finals matches went down:
120 pounds (5th/6th)— In the 5th/6th match, Wolves junior Zack Luff was overwhelmed by South’s Kraig Hammond, who lost in overtime in the championship semifinals on Friday. Hammond pinned Luff 1:31 into the second period as Luff finished his tournament 3-3 overall.
126 pounds (5th/6th) — Chugiak junior Chase Jury finished the tourney 4-2 and in fifth place with a lopsided victory over Dimond’s Masa Hu. Jury built a 7-3 lead heading into the third period, then pulled away for a 12-3 major decision.
138 pounds (5th/6th) — Colten Jury saw a tight match slip away in the third period against East’s Adam Downing. Jury trailed just 4-2 heading into the final two minutes, then fell victim to a barrage of takedowns as Downing pulled away for a 13-4 major decision. Jury finished 3-3 for the tournament.
145 pounds (3rd/4th) — Taus, a state runner-up last season who said before the tournament that he’d settle for nothing but a return to the state finals, saw his tourney end with a heartbreaking 2-1 decision to Lathrop’s Sam Zimmerman.
Neither wrestler could take the other one down in the match, and the difference in the score was the result of a third-period stalling call against the Eagle River wrestler. Though both Taus and Zimmerman seemed content not to take many shots, the referee determined Taus hadn’t done enough offensively and awarded Zimmerman a point.
Taus finally managed to get the upper hand on Zimmerman late in the round, but couldn’t get control as the final whistle sounded, leaving him in fourth place for the tourney.
160 pounds (5th/6th)— In his state tournament debut, Forbush proved he’s a wrestler to watch in the future with an 18-1 technical fall over Kodiak’s Derrek Deal to claim fifth place.
“It’s an awesome experience to be able to place at state,” Forbush said.
It was an experience Forbush nearly missed out on.
The sophomore helped Chugiak’s competition cheer team perform earlier in the day, and arrived at Bartlett just minutes before his scheduled match with Deal.
“I had to rush to get back here,” he said.
Forbush said he thinks Chugiak’s strong showing among younger wrestlers bodes well for the future.
“Next year I think we’re going to have twice as many state placers,” he said.
170 pounds (3rd/4th) — Sheets’ state experience mirrored Taus’ disappointment. After losing in the championship semifinals, Sheets advanced to the 3rd/4th place match before seeing his career end with a loss. The senior dropped a 19-5 major decision to Lathrop’s Seth Cheney to place fourth.
195 pounds (3rd/4th) — In one of the round’s most exciting matches, Chugiak’s Alex Medeiros (pictured on page 2) took down Wasilla’s Austin Gonzalez in overtime to earn an 8-6 victory for third. Medeiros led 6-3 with 25 seconds left in regulation, but an escape and takedown by Gonzalez with less than 10 seconds left forced the extra period.
Medeiros said he actually thought he was ahead when the whistle sounded in regulation.
“I’m happy with it,” he said after his match-winning takedown.
195 pounds (5th/6th) — Madubuko earned his second consecutive fifth-place medal at state with a dominant showing against Wasilla’s Tyler Seims. Madubuko, who came out late for the season because of a lingering shoulder injury, pinned Seims with 10 seconds left in the first period.
“I was expecting to do better, but I’ll take fifth any year,” Madubuko said.
Madubuko said he hopes to make a run at the finals next season. To do that, he said he’ll need to spend more time in the wrestling room.
“Next year I’m hoping to wrestle the whole season,” he said.
220 pounds (5th/6th) — Cook Inlet Conference champion Richard Burroughs had to settle for fifth place, but was still all smiles after pinning Wasilla’s Andrew Pettit in the second round.
“I wanted to rank higher, but I’m not disappointed,” Burroughs said.
Burroughs, who weighed in at 195 pounds to start the tournament, said he hopes to add bulk in order to be more competitive at the second-largest weight class next season.
“Once they get on top of you, it’s tough to get up,” Burroughs said of the larger wrestlers in his class.
285 pounds (5th/6th) — Trombley only had to show up to claim his fifth place medal in the consolation round, earning an injury default over East’s Derrick Jones. Trombley, who advanced to the championship semifinals before losing to eventual state champ Caleb Green of Bartlett, finished his final state tournament 3-2.
Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-27272 or [email protected]