Soldotna’s Trinity Donovan is crowned the champion of the girls 145-pound division Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, at the ASAA State Wrestling Championships at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Trinity Donovan is crowned the champion of the girls 145-pound division Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, at the ASAA State Wrestling Championships at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

A look at busy sports weekend ahead

The schedule adjustments caused by the coronavirus pandemic have resulted in a collision of Kenai Peninsula sporting events this weekend that has never been seen before.

The Division I and I state wrestling tournament, normally held in December, will be Friday and Saturday. The Kenai River Brown Bears also start play in the North American Hockey League playoffs. Those playoffs normally begin in early April.

Those two events are layered on top of two events — the Peninsula Conference soccer tournament and region track meets — holding their normal place in the schedule.

Division I and II state wrestling tournament

The state wrestling tournament will be today and Saturday at Bartlett and Chugiak high schools in Anchorage.

The Division I schools, including Soldotna, will be at Bartlett, while Division II and girls will be at Chugiak. Division II includes Homer, Kenai Central, Nikiski and Seward.

Today’s wrestling begins at 9 a.m. at both locations and culminates with the championship semifinals. Saturday’s wrestling also starts at 9 a.m. After the third-fourth place and fifth-sixth place matches are held, the championship matches will be at 4 p.m.

Soldotna has qualified 18 wrestlers for the tournament. Sean Babitt at 189 pounds, Liam Babitt at 215 and Trinity Donovan at girls 145 lead the way with top seeds. Others earning seeds for the Stars are Ezekiel Miller at No. 2 at 130, Isaac Chavarria at No. 2 at 140, Hunter Richardson at No. 4 at 171, Hunter Secor at No. 5 at 119 and Cassius Miller at No. 6 at 135.

In the 2019 state tournament, Donovan won the state title at 145, while Sean Babitt at 171 and Dennis Taylor at 152 both earned runner-up finishes. Babitt was fourth at 171 in 2018.

Nikiski will have 11 wrestlers at the tournament. For the Bulldogs, Koleman McCaughey is No. 4 at 171, Mayaac Schmit is No. 5 at 285 and Caileb Payne is No. 6 at 189. McCaughey was fourth at 160 in the 2018 state tourney.

The Kardinals qualified 10 for state. Tucker Vann is seeded third at 189. Vann was third at 171 at state in 2019 and 2018, while Talon Whicker was fourth at 103 in 2018.

Homer has nine wrestlers going to state, with top seeds going to Sadie Blake at girls 103 and Josh Bradshaw at 171. Also for Homer, Aileen Lester is No. 3 at girls 130 and Austin Cline is third at 130.

Blake won a state title at 125 in 2019. Cline was fourth at 119 in 2019, Russell Nyvall was fourth at 125 in 2019 and Bradshaw was fourth at 152 in 2018.

Seward qualified two for the state tournament.

State wrestling qualifiers

Homer — Zach Knott at 119, Austin Cline at 130, Russell Nyvall at 140, Nestor Kalugin at 160, Josh Bradshaw at 171, Kamdyn Doughty at 215, Charles Van Meter at 285, Sadie Blake at 103, Aileen Lester at 130.

Kenai Central — Rey Perez at 152, Nathan Teates at 152, Tucker Vann at 189, Shane Taylor at 189, Kenzie Keller at 119, Grace Asi at 125, Lincoln Alton at 112, Talon Whicker at 125, Owen Whicker at 130, Andrew Gaethle at 145.

Nikiski — Jaryn Zoda at 140, Sam Yerkes at 152, Austin Sutton at 152, Koleman McCaughey at 171, Simon Grenier at 171, Caileb Payne at 189, Truit McCaughey at 189, Johnny Ralston at 189, Tim Goodnight at 215, Robert Isabel at 215, Mayaac Schmit at 285.

Seward — Jacob Wendt at 140, Fayzon Lawrence at 189.

Soldotna — Hunter Secor at 119, Golden Musgrave at 130, Ezekiel Miller at 130, Grayden Musgrave at 130, Cassius Miller at 135, Nicholas Rackley at 135, Isaac Chavarria at 140, Colin Peck at 145, Saiyan Baker at 152, Edgar Land at 152, Wayne Mellon at 160, Dennis Taylor at 160, Hunter Richardson at 171, Sean Babitt at 189, Liam Babitt at 215, Logan Katzenberger at 285, Noah Land at 285, Trinity Donovan at 145.

NAHL playoffs: Brown Bears vs. Jets

The Kenai River Brown Bears take on the Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets in Games 1 and 2 of a best-of-five playoff series on Friday and Saturday at 4:05 p.m. AKDT in Janesville.

The Bears are making their first playoff appearance since 2014 and are looking for the first playoff series win in franchise history. Kenai River started play in the 2007-08 season.

The Brown Bears went 5-5 against the Jets this season. After Kenai River lost 1-0 to the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Friday to lock into the No. 4 seed from the Midwest Division and earn a matchup with No. 1 Janesville, interim head coach Josh Dubinsky said he likes the way his team matches up with Janesville.

Region 3/I and II track meet

State berths will be on the line at the Region 3/I and II track meet at Wasilla on Friday and Saturday. For peninsula schoools, Soldotna competes at the Division I level, while Homer, Kenai, Nikiski and Seward compete at Division II.

In both the Division I and II meets, the top finisher earns an automatic berth to state, while other finishers have a chance to qualify when matched with the other best times in the state.

Ninilchik and Cook Inlet Academy also will compete at the Region 2 meet at Susitna Valley on Friday and Saturday. The top finisher here also automatically qualifies for state.

At the Division II level, according to athletic.net, several peninsula athletes enter regions with the top marks in the state.

For Division II boys, Kenai’s Maison Dunham leads in the 400 and 800 meters, Seward’s Trey Ingalls leads in the hurdles, Homer’s Joshua Manwiller leads in the discus and Kenai’s James Sparks leads in the triple jump.

For Division II girls, Homer’s Laura Inama leads in the 300 hurdles and triple jump and Homer’s 1,600 relay leads.

For Division I boys, Soldotna’s Nathanael Johnson leads in the 400 and Soldotna’s Dylan Dahlgren leads in the discus. For Division I girls, Soldotna’s Drysta Crosby-Schneider leads in the 400 and triple jump, while SoHi’s 1,600 and 3,200 relay also have top times.

Peninsula Conference soccer tournament

Two state berths for the girls and boys will be on the line at the Peninsula Conference soccer tournament today and Saturday at Kenai Central High School.

The winners of today’s semifinals will earn the state berths. The boys semifinals feature No. 1 seed Soldotna vs. No. 4 seed Nikiski at 2 p.m. and No. 2 seed Kenai vs. No. 3 seed Homer at 6 p.m. The girls semifinals feature No. 1 seed Soldotna vs. No. 4 seed Nikiski at noon and No. 2 seed Homer vs. No. 3 seed Kenai at 4 p.m.

The loser’s of the semifinals will still be eligible for two girls and two boys at-large Division II state berths doled out by the Alaska School Activities Association.

The Stars boys finished 5-0-1 in the league and 7-1-3 overall. Their one tie in league play came against the Kardinals on May 3.

SoHi will be looking to stop a string of heartbreak at the conference tournament and advance to state for the first time since 2016.

In the last three conference tourneys, the Stars have played Homer to go to state and lost each time. This time, SoHi gets Nikiski, which has never earned a state berth and is 0-6 in the league and 0-11 overall.

The other boys semi features a clash of two teams accustomed to being at state. The Kenai boys, the 2018 Peninsula Conference champions, are the No. 2 seed thanks to their 3-1-2 and 7-3-2 records. The Kardinals have five straight state berths and also have won the last Division II state titles.

Homer, the defending conference champion, finished 2-3-1 in the league and 3-3-2 overall. The Mariners have been to state in six of the last eight years.

This season, Kenai defeated Homer 4-0 on April 22 and played to a scoreless tie with the Mariners on May 6.

The Soldotna girls are the two-time defending conference champs and also have seven state berths in the past nine years. The Stars are 5-0-1 in the league and 8-2-3 overall entering the tournament. Nikiski is 0-6 and 0-11 and is looking for its first trip to state.

In the other girls semifinal, Homer and Kenai will build on an impressive history. In 2019, Homer defeated Kenai 4-3 on penalty kicks in the conference semifinal to clinch a first state berth since 2007. That was after Kenai defeated Homer 1-0 in the 2018 semifinals. In 2019, Kenai still was able to secure an at-large state berth — for a seventh-straight trip to state and eighth in nine years.

The Mariners are 4-1-1 in the league this season and 7-1-1 overall, while Kenai is 2-4 in the league and 4-8-1 overall. Homer defeated Kenai by 2-1 and 1-0 scores this season.

Peninsula Conference soccer tournament

at Kenai Central High School

BOYS

Friday’s games

Game 1 — Soldotna vs. Nikiski, 2 p.m.

Game 2 — Kenai vs. Homer, 6 p.m.

Saturday’s games

Third-place game — Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, noon

Championship — Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 4 p.m.

GIRLS

Friday’s games

Game 1 — Soldotna vs. Nikiski, noon

Game 2 — Homer vs. Kenai, 4 p.m.

Saturday’s games

Third-place game — Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 10 a.m.

Championship — Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 2 p.m.

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