Local grapplers dominate City Championships
Chugiak-Eagle River wrestlers have established themselves as kings of the middle school mat.
At the Anchroage School District City Championships held Feb. 22-23 at Goldenview Middle School in South Anchorage, Mirror Lake’s Coyotes won the overall team championship, while the Gruening Colts won more individual titles than any other school.
“The Eagle River community is really big on participation,” said MLMS head coach Todd Gillespie. “All our sports are large, and I really believe the community involvement is a big part of that.”
Mirror Lake had a meet-high 15 place winners (top four) to compile 192.5 total points, besting second-place Mears by 22.5 points. The Coyotes had three individual champions at the 10-team meet, three second-place finishers, five third-place finishers and four fourth-place athletes.
“We had a consistent effort across the board,” Gillespie said.
Taking home titles for Mirror Lake were sixth-grader Alex Zimmerman at 75 pounds, eighth-grader Brandon Lowe at 140 pounds and eight-grader Tevin Cormier at 148 pounds. Both Zimmerman and Cormier finished their seasons undefeated — and Zimmerman won all 13 of his bouts by fall.
Fourth-place Gruening had four individual champions, led by two-time titlist Marcus Amico, an eight-grader who capped an undefeated season with a championship at 100 pounds. Also wining titles for the Colts were seventh-grader Alfonso Aguilar at 110 pounds, eighth-grader Cole Marks at 115 pounds and eighth-grader Kenny Lee at 160 pounds. Aguilar and Marks were both undefeated this season, while Lee lost just twice.
Marks knocked off previously undefeated Dawson Budke in the finals to hand the Mirror Lake seventh-grader his only loss of the season.
Wenzl said he couldn’t be happier with the way his team performed on the citywide stage.
“For the places we took and being the size that we are, we gave those City Championships a real punch in the mouth,” he said.
Other placers for Mirror Lake included Cody Keen (3rd at 80 pounds), Riley Demboski (4th at 85), Ashton Franchino (4th at 90), Nick Mroz (4th at 95), Chris Elder (3rd at 100), Noah Ralph (2nd at 110), Dawson Budke (2nd at 115), Coen Williams (3rd at 127), Jake Butler (3rd at 133), Trevor Hicks (4th at 140), Nick Toombs (2nd at 160) and Toren Cheely (3rd at 190).
Mirror Lake assistant Kip Bailey — who was the head coach at Gruening last season — said the performances of Elder and Ralph were particularly impressive. Elder entered the tournament with just a 4-5 season record, while Ralph came into City’s at 4-8 and advanced to the championship match.
“If you’re going to decide it’s time to wrestle, this is the time to do it,” Bailey said.
Bailey not only got to coach on a championship team, he also got a new hairstyle out of the deal. The first-year MLMS assistant said he promised the team he’d show up to school on Monday with a Mohawk if they won the title.
“That was the outcome of the tourament for me,” he said.
Additional Gruening placers were Chase Reves (3rd at 95), Gavin Arnold (2nd at 121), William Graham (4th at 127) and John Randall (3rd at 148).
With victories by Chugiak-Eagle River wrestlers in seven of the 18 total weight classes, both head coaches were quick to credit the local Chugach Eagles club program with helping develop local grapplers.
“I have to plug the club,” Gillespie said. “The kids are excited from a young age.”
Wenzl said he had hoped to challenge for a team title, but the Colts — who had about 30 wrestlers in the program this year — just couldn’t compete with the larger teams in the district.
“I couldn’t beat their numbers,” he said.
Mirror Lake’s depth was key to the team’s first city title in five years, Gillespie said. And with 78 athletes out for the sport, he said assistant and volunteer coaching was key to the program’s success.
“We would not be able to do it without them,” he said.
In addition to assistants Bailey and Travis Harrington, Gillespie said volunteers Marty Edwards, Joel Schultz and former Chugiak standout Travis Schultz were invaluable in keeping the team focused during practice sessions.
“Many times we have to split the rooms, and they’re all on the same page with us,” he said.
Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or [email protected]