CIC wrestling tourney starts Friday at Chugiak
When asked how many Chugiak wrestlers have a legitimate chance at making state, head coach Tom Huffer Jr. couldn’t come up with a number.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” he said. “That’s how tight the region is.”
With several closely contested weight classes, the Cook Inlet Conference tournament should provide plenty of entertainment for spectators Friday and Saturday, Jan. 25-26 at Chugiak High, Huffer said.
“It makes it more exciting,” he said.
For Huffer, however, all the parity will make this weekend more stressful, as he wants as many Mustangs as possible to extend their seasons.
Chugiak junior Richard Burroughs will look to defend his 220-pound title, and Huffer expects a rematch of last year’s championship bout with Service’s Derek Zorea.
“That should be a good match,” Huffer said.
Last year, Burroughs edged Zorea by one point to claim his first CIC title. This season has gone in favor of the Service senior, who earned an 11-7 decision and pinfall victories over Burroughs.
Zorea enters the tournament ranked No. 1, according to www.akmat.org. Burroughs is third behind Ian McKenzie of Colony.
Four other Mustangs are ranked in the website’s top five. Chase Jury is ranked fourth at 132 pounds, Colt Jury (145) is third, Robert Huffer (152) is third and Toren Cheely (195) is fifth.
Along with Burroughs, Chase Jury, Colt Jury, Karson Forbush (170 pounds) and Alex Medeiros (182) placed at state last season. Those five, Tyler Wintersteen (126 pounds) and Robert Huffer have a good chance to earn state berths, coach Huffer said.
Entering the tournament healthy is essential for success for Chugiak, which hasn’t had a full lineup all season, coach Huffer said.
“We’ve been banged up all year long,” he said. “We’ve got to get healthy, that’s the key for us.”
Nine days off should help.
That’s how much time Chugiak and Eagle River had following the season’s final dual that pitted the rivals against one another.
Both teams won five matches apiece, but Chugiak was the beneficiary of two more forfeits than Eagle River and came out on top 42-33 on Jan. 16.
Coach Huffer is hopeful that he’ll have a full squad by the conference tournament.
“It looks like we’ll have everybody back,” he said.
The season’s final meet was encouraging to Wolves’ head coach Daren Williams.
“We had some good wins tonight,” he said. “Match to match, I can’t be happier.”
Williams said nine Wolves have a chance to make state: Marcus Amico (113 pounds), Zach Luff (120), Gavin Arnold (132), Hayden Riebe (138), Cory Florence (145), Xavier Horton (152), Jimmy Stemper (160), Justin Vanderlooven (170) and heavyweight Austin Thomas.
“If I could take 60 or 70 percent of my team, that’s pretty good,” Williams said.
Though Luff is Eagle River’s lone returning place winner from state, Williams said the Wolves have an opportunity to improve upon last season’s sixth-place finish at the conference meet.
“They’re peaking at the right time,” he said. “I’m encouraged. We have a good shot.”
Chugiak 42, Eagle River 33
98 — double forfeit; 106 — Justin Toth, ER, forfeit; 113 — Marcus Amico, ER, pin Tyler Frazier, Chu, 1:36; 120 — Zach Luff, ER, pin Jared Reed, Chu, 3:10; 126 — Tyler Wintersteen, Chu, pin Conner Octeau, ER, 0:39; 132 — Chase Jury, Chu, forfeit; 138 — Hayden Riebe, ER, pin Stafford Matthews, Chu, 0:40; 145 — Cory Florence, ER, dec. Colt Jury, Chu, 7-4; 152 — Robert Huffer, Chu, dec. Xavier Horton, ER, 6-2; 160 — Jimmy Stemper, ER, pin Gabriel Mingledorff, 4:59; 170 — Karson Forbush, Chu, pin Justin Vanderlooven, ER, 2:46; 182 — Alex Medeiros, Chu, forfeit; 195 — Blake Kutch, Chu, dec. Taylor Leheny, ER, 4-1; 220 — Toren Cheely, Chu, forfeit; 285 — Richard Burroughs, Chu, pin Austin Thomas, ER, 1:21.