Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion  Nikiski Bulldogs' Luke Johnson in the 220-pound weight class tries to push Soldotna Stars' Taylor Macree's head to the mat Saturday, November 15, 2014, at Nikiski High-Middle School in Nikiski, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Nikiski Bulldogs' Luke Johnson in the 220-pound weight class tries to push Soldotna Stars' Taylor Macree's head to the mat Saturday, November 15, 2014, at Nikiski High-Middle School in Nikiski, Alaska.

Kotzebue wins Peninsula Duals tourney, Nikiski takes 3rd

With hundreds of wrestlers from 15 different teams across the state, the Peninsula Duals at Nikiski High School this weekend featured some of the top high school wrestling talent Alaska has to offer.

The two-day tournament began Friday with each school completing two dual matches, which seeded each team accordingly for Saturday’s bracket-style championships.

In a rematch of last year’s title bout, Kotzebue eked out its second straight tournament championship with a narrow victory over Colony with a 36-35 dual win. The battle came down to the final match, as Kotzebue’s Stephen Hyatt won a 5-2 decision over Zachariah Doan of Colony.

The host team Nikiski Bulldogs topped all Peninsula schools with a third-place finish, rounding out the night with a 47-30 triumph over Soldotna. The West Eagles grabbed fifth place with a 52-33 dual win over Dillingham, and Bethel took the seventh-place dual match with a 42-40 win over Kodiak.

The Bulldogs were buoyed by performances from 220-pounder Luke Johnson (went 6-0 on the weekend), Austin Ozbun (6-0), Jon McCormick (5-0), Dylan Broussard (4-0), Nathan Carstens (5-1), Tyler Olsen (5-1) and TJ Cox (4-1).

“Some of our guys wrestled great, they were outstanding,” said Nikiski coach Adam Anders. “Our younger guys in particular really stepped up and did a great job.”

Anders added that the entire tournament would not have been possible without the support from the various parents, volunteers and coaches.

Nikiski started Friday with two dual wins, beating Soldotna 45-33 then demolishing Dimond 70-12.

On Saturday, Nikiski defeated Kenai 50-30, then moved on to beat Houston 50-31 before losing to eventual champs Kotzebue 48-35 in the semifinal round.

SoHi began the tournament with a Friday split, beating Homer 45-33 in the first dual but losing to Nikiski by the exact same score.

Saturday, the Stars started with a 44-36 dual win over Dillingham, then advanced with a 43-42 win over Bethel, but fell out in the semifinal round with a 69-15 loss to Colony. The Stars finished fourth overall after losing the third-place dual to Nikiski.

Austin Craig, Seth Hutchison and Bailey Blumentritt all finished 4-0 Saturday as the top Soldotna wrestlers, and all went 6-0 between both days.

Kenai also split its Friday schedule, with a tight 37-36 win over Seward and a 54-21 loss to Bethel. The Kardinals went 0-2 on Saturday, losing to Nikiski 50-30 and the Colony JV 48-33.

The brother duo of Paul and Ellery Steffensen fared well, along with teammate Dylan Carter. All three Kenai wrestlers finished 4-0 for the weekend. Zach Koziczkowski and Matt Vandermartin both followed behind with 3-1 records.

“They all did great,” said Kenai coach Stan Steffensen. “We’re still missing a few players, but these guys did well this weekend.”

Homer finished 2-3 on the weekend, starting Friday with a 45-33 loss to Soldotna but then beat Dimond 77-6. The Mariners began Saturday with a 58-28 loss to West, continued with a 72-16 win over Voznesenka, then dropped out for good with a 42-36 loss to Kodiak. Jaime and Danny Rios both finished the weekend 5-0, while Timmy Woo and Ravi Cavasos both went 4-1.

Seward lost to Kenai 37-36 early on Friday but made up for it with a 40-34 win against Colony JV. The Seahawks made a quick day of it Saturday, losing their first dual 59-15 to Bethel and the second 55-15 to Dillingham. Matt Morris finished the weekend 4-0 for Seward.

Voznesenka lost both Friday duals with scores of 57-18 to the Colony JV and 54-18 to Anchorage Christian Schools. The Cougars then lost 84-4 to Colony and 72-16 to Homer. Gavril Kalugin won all four of his matches for Voznesenka.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion  Nikiski Bulldogs' Willie Olsen in the 285-pound weight class fights being pinned by Soldotna Stars' Dalton Best Saturday, November 15, 2014, at Nikiski High-Middle School in Nikiski, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Nikiski Bulldogs’ Willie Olsen in the 285-pound weight class fights being pinned by Soldotna Stars’ Dalton Best Saturday, November 15, 2014, at Nikiski High-Middle School in Nikiski, Alaska.

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