By JEREMIAH BARTZ
PALMER — Soldotna crowned three champions, boasted an all-Stars heavyweight final and SoHi mentor Neldon Gardner earned Coach of the Year honors during the final day of the Northern Lights Conference Championships wrestling tournament Saturday at Palmer High School.
Soldotna’s Gideon Hutchison earned his third region title in four years, beating Colony’s Kayden Payne 5-0, and Aaron Faletoi and Melvin Lloyd each won their first individual championship for the Stars. Faletoi used a late effort to get by Colony’s Jamar Toston in the 215-final. Faletoi scored a reversal with 32 seconds left in the match, and held on for a 3-2 victory. Lloyd pinned teammate Eli Floyd in the all-Soldotna heavyweight final.
In the girls division, Amanda Wylie earned the title at 160 pounds with a pin in the final.
The Stars finished third overall.
For Valley power Colony, mononucleosis nearly shut down Eric Christy’s senior season and a major earthquake has temporarily closed down his school, but Christy found a way back on to the mat to win his third straight region championship and help lead the Knights to their sixth straight team title.
Christy beat Kodiak senior Josh Nummer 3-0 in the 171-pound final.
“It felt good. It was a good day,” Christy said right before the tournament’s awards ceremony.
The match featured a pair of defending state champions. Christy won the title at 170 pounds last year. Nummer won it all at 160.
“It was not an easy match,” Christy said.
Christy scored his lone takedown of the match near the edge of the circle during the final seconds of the first period, and stretched his lead to 3-0 with an escape in the second. It’s the second straight season Christy needed to beat a defending state champ to score a region crown.
As a junior Christy edged Palmer’s Levi Farris 5-4 to win a title. With the victory, Christy also won his third consecutive region title and his 49th straight match. As a junior last season, Christy finished 39-0. Christy has not suffered a loss since the consolation semifinals of the state tournament during his sophomore season.
The championship final was also only his ninth match of his senior year, after missing most of the season with mono.
“It started in the middle of September and I figured it out at the end of October,” Christy said. “It was horrible. Constant congestion, runny nose, head always hurt, body ached all the time. Hot and cold, I’d wake up dripping with sweat in the middle of the night.”
Christy said at one point, he was afraid he’d miss his entire senior season of wrestling.
“At first I was, but made a quick recovery,” Christy said. “Feeling great now.”
If mono wasn’t enough for Christy, he and his teammates missed about a week of official team practices because of the 7.0 earthquake that struck Southcentral Alaska Nov. 30. Christy managed to make his way into Anchorage the day after the earthquake to compete in the Grace Christian Invitational, his first action of the year. Christy won his weight class.
“I needed matches. It was good to get in there, get a tournament in before regions,” Christy said.
Christy was the only Valley wrestler in the tournament.
Prior to regions, Colony head coach Todd Hopkins said his athletes have been working out on their own while the school has been temporarily closed following the earthquake. Hopkins said the Knights were able to host a team practice offsite on Dec. 6, the day prior to regions. Colony High is not scheduled to re-open to students until Dec. 14.
But the Knights made the most of their time in the Palmer High gym during the two-day tourney, winning their sixth straight team title with 411 total points. Christy was one of a half-dozen Knights to win individual titles Saturday. The group also includes senior Trace Severson, who was named Most Outstanding Wrestler following the tournament. In the finals, Severson earned a win by major decision, beating Wasilla junior Sterling Uhlenhake 10-0 in the 145-pound final. Serverson, who improved to 20-4 with the win, handed Uhlenhake just his fourth loss of the year.
Carter Silva (112), Jared Hopkins (125), Rush Fannon (140) and Levi Hopkins (189) also earned individual championships for Colony. Carter Jasper (103), Alex Logsdon (119) and Hunter Hayes (135) won their weight classes for Wasilla. Asa Barnes was Palmer’s lone champion, with the senior winning it all at 152.
Contact Frontiersman editor Jeremiah Bartz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Northern Lights Conference Championships
Friday-Saturday, Palmer High School
1. Colony 411; 2. Wasilla 308; 3. Soldotna 191; 4. Palmer 157.5; 5. Kodiak 79.
103 pounds — C. Jasper, Was m.d. W. Nelson, Was 12-0; 112 — C. Silva, Col p. T. Clapp, Col 1:58; 119 — A. Logsdon, Was d. A. Ehmann, Was 4-1; 125 — J. Hopkins, Col p. P. Portney, Pal 4:51; 130 — G. Hutchison, Sol d. K. Payne, Col 5-0; 135 — H. Hayes, Was d. V. Cramer, Col 9-4; 140 — R. Fannon, Col p. W. Wolff, Was 3:33; 145 — T. Severson, Col m.d. S. Uhlenhake, was 10-0; 152 — A. Barnes, Pal d. D. Taylor, Sol 3-1; 160 — J. Goodman, Kod d. A. Hacker, Was 3-2; 171 — E. Christy, Col d. J. Nummer, Kod 3-0; 189 — L. Hopkins, Col p. B. Werner, Sol 1:31; 215 — A. Faletoi, Sol d. J. Toston, Col 3-2; 285 — M. Lloyd, Sol p. E. Floyd, Sol 2:53.
103 — E. Cordell, Col d. J. Ritz, Col 9-4; 112 — L. Craig, Sol p. L. Hayes, Was 2:03; 119 — J. Harvey, Col p. T. Foss, Was 4:34; 125 — Z. Loutzenhiser, Col d. F. Elvsaas, Was 7-3; 130 — B. Stevens, Kod p. R. Gallgher, Col; 135 — I. Rodman, Was d. O. Manley, Pal 4-2; 140 — H. Sasser, Col d. N. Williams, Was 5-4; 145 — G. Dean, Was p. Z. Deemer, Pal 2:47; 152 — J. Tolsten, Col d. J. Mathews, Was 5-2; 160 — L. Erwin, Col p. R. Bailey, Was 0:43; 170 — C. Lindquist, Was won by fft L. Farris, Pal; 189 — C. Roberts, Col d. D. Parker, Kod 4-2; 215 — J. Palmer, Was p. L. Frank, Pal 1:35; 285 — E. Connaker, Col p. D. Van Slyke, Col 2:31.
112 — C. Jones, Was won by fft G. Lorring, Kod; 119 — G. Blydenurgh, Pal t.f. B. Mason, Pal 16-1; 125 — B. Booth, Sol p. A. Corbridge, Pal 2:05; 130 — W. Fraker, Was p. S. Logsdon, was 2:55; 135 — J. Christianson, Pal t.f. R. Birbilas, Kod 15-0; 140 — S. Watchus, Pal p. B. Owens, Pal 2:32; 145 — B. Wolfe, Sol won by fft B. Lestenkof-Chapman, Col; 152 — T. Thornill, Col d. B. Keeney, was 6-5; 160 — M. Floresta, Col p. M. Godwin, Pal 1:26; 171 — S. Babitt, Sol p. D. Vroman, Was 1:58; 189 — J. Acree, Pal p. C. Boyd, Sol 0:24; 215 — M. Rogers, Sol p. R. Westover, Col 4:11; 285 — G. Aderman, Pal p. H. Buckley, Pal 4:11.
Girls championship finals:
103 — T. Pendergrass, Pal p. A. Boucher, Was 1:49; 112 — G. Stigen, Col p. H. Simpson, Was 1:35; 119 — H. Warner, Was p. C. Maxon, Col 1:08; 125 — K. Gerasimyuk, Was p. Z. Covington, Col 1:19; 130 — O. Troxell, Kod p. V. Baker, Sol 4:10; 135 — E. Lorring, Kod bye; 145 — K. Laasch-Gray, Col bye; 160 — A. Wylie, Sol p. R. Toston, Col 0:20; 235 — A. Brown, Pal p. J. Agbayani, Pal 0:42.
Girls third-place matches:
119 — J. Robbins, Col bye; 125 — K. Hutchings, Col bye; 130 — I. Underhill, Pal bye;