The oddest feature of the prep sports calendar was on display Saturday at Kenai Central High School, when the Homer wrestling team accepted the team championship at the Luke Spruill Memorial Tournament just as word was filtering through the gym that Homer’s football team had fallen 20-14 in the Division III state championship to Barrow.
The Mariners wrestlers scored 82.5 points to beat the 79.5 of Soldotna, which later in the day would win the Division II state football championship. Nikiski was third with 53 points, while Kenai had 43.5
“We’re still proud of the football team,” said Homer coach Bubba Wells, whose son, Kyle, is a lineman with the squad. “Coach (Walter) Love has done an amazing job with them.”
The tournament is named for Spruill, who graduated Kenai Central as a two-time state champion and was killed in a Bristol Bay fishing accident in 2004 at the age 0f 27. The event kicks off the wrestling season on the Kenai Peninsula.
The Luke Spruill Award went to Kenai’s Byron Dunham, a senior who won the title at 220 pounds. In order to get the award, the wrestler must exhibit dedication, good sportsmanship, ability to help and coach others, a can-do attitude, coachability, kindness, leadership and tenacity.
Dunham made state as a sophomore, but injury derailed his junior season. Kenai coach Stan Steffensen said Dunham is set for a great senior year, and is focused on more than himself.
“He coaches other kids during the matches and coaches them in the room,” Steffensen said. “He even encourages kids to eat right.”
Wells said the Mariners will have seven or eight joining the team from football, but Homer, runner-up at Class II state last season, showed its strength even when short-handed.
One match that was a highlight of the event came at 126, where Homer’s Wayne Newman, a junior who was runner-up at state last season, notched a 7-5 decision over Soldotna’s Gideon Hutchison, a junior who was third at state last season.
Wells also liked the way Alex Moseley and Seth Inama looked in winning titles at 126B and 120, respectively. The coach said both spent a lot of time at wrestling camps this summer and it showed.
A final feel-good moment for the Mariners came when Richard Brock won the title at 285. It was the first tournament title for Brock. Wells said Brock has shown his dedication in showing up for preseason workouts and all the hard work has paid off.
A final interesting first at the tournament came from Kenai senior John Grossl, who won the title at 182. Grossl just started wrestling this season, and this was his first tournament.
“I want to try almost every sport, I’ve done everything but hockey and the two cross-countries,” Grossl said. “Wrestling’s a lot of fun, and it takes a lot of effort.”
Luke Spruill Memorial Tournament
at Kenai Central
Team scores: 1. Homer, 82.5; 2. Soldotna, 79.5; 3. Nikiski, 53; 4. Kenai Central, 43.5.
113 — 1. Logan Craig, Sol; 2. Joey Yourkoski, Nik.
120 — 1. Seth Inama, Hom; 2. Pierce Peterson, Ken; 3. Ben Booth, Sol.
120B — 1. Dalten Hulsey, Sol; 2. Jordan Fleming, Nik; 3. Sadie Blake, Hom.
126 — 1. Wayne Newman, Hom; 2. Gideon Hutchison, Sol; 3. Seth Segura, Ken; 4. Austin Escott, Sol.
126B — 1. Alex Moseley, Hom; 2. Mina Cavasos, Hom; 3. Lexi Gridley, Sol.
132 — 1. Luciano Fasulo, Hom; 2 (tie). Sammy Baker, Ken, George Napoka, Nik; 4. Keaton Logston, Ken; 5. Vydell Baker, Sol.
138 — 1. Justin Cox, Nik; 2 (tie). Tucker Vann, Ken, Zach Burns, Sol; 4 (tie). Ian Stovall, Hom, Brandon Kroto, Ken.
152 — 1. Donovan Smith, Nik; 2. McKenzie Cook, Hom; 3. Logan Schrader, Sol; 4. Haiden Tryon, Sol.
152B — 1. Koleman McCaughey, Nik; 2. Mose Hayes, Hom; 3. Amanda Wylie, Sol; 4. Malcolm Yerkes, Nik.
160 — 1. Bechler Metcalf, Sol; 2. Quincy Miller, Sol; 3. Sierra Clark, Hom.
170 — 1. Levi Wahl, Sol; 2. Benjamin Grossl, Ken.
182 — 1. John Grossl, Ken; 2. Rocky Sherbahn, Ken; 3. Joseph McLeod, Nik.
195 — 1 (tie.) Tristen Cook, Hom, Seth Kruse, Ken; 3 (tie). Aidan Skura, Sol, Max Rogers, Sol; 5. Alex Miller, Hom.
220 — 1. Byron Dunham, Ken; 2. Eli Floyd, Sol.