A handful of forfeits on the part of the Homer Mariners helped the Soldotna wrestling team to victory Wednesday during a dual meet between the two schools held in Homer.
Soldotna wrestlers walked off the mat with 54 points to the Mariners’ 24, in large part due to the six matches Homer had to forfeit due to lack of athletes in those weight classes.
Out of the eight regular matches that were able to be wrestled, Homer won five while Soldotna took three. Out of the total 17 matches wrestled including exhibition matches, Homer won 11.
Senior Anthony Kalugin kept his place as the No. 1 ranked Division II wrestler at 189 pounds by defeating Soldotna’s Sean Babitt, as did Sadie Blake when she bested Vydell Baker by pinning her in under a minute.
Afony Reutov at 140, Cayleb Diaz at 152, Mose Hayes at 160 and Ryan Hicks at 215 also brought victories for Homer. Autumn Daigle, Antonin Murachev, Logan Counts and Mina Cavasos also won their exhibition matches for Homer.
The dual was also Senior Night, marking the last home meet the senior wrestlers will participate in this season.
Head coach Justin Zank has had some of the senior wrestlers for a few years despite this being his first year as Homer’s coach. He spent time training athletes like Kalugin, Murachev and Reutov from schools in the Russian Old Believer villages at the head of Kachemak Bay when he was the football and wrestling coach there.
“I’m super proud of what he’s accomplished so far,” Zank said of Kalugin. “And I’m looking forward to seeing what he does for the rest of the season.”
It’s Murachev’s second year wrestling, and he keeps improving, Zank said.
Daigle, best known in the Homer community for her endurance strength in cross-country running, skiing and long distance track and field events, jumped into wrestling for the first time as a senior this year.
“She’s been wrestling really well,” Zank said. “Super aggressive — gets after it. I like it.”
Zank said his goals for the team are for the athletes to keep improving from week to week. His motto as both a football coach and wrestling coach is to “be better.”
“I’d like to see us build intensity going into Grace for next week and then hopefully peak out at regions, and perform well at state,” he said.
Soldotna 54, Homer 24
140 — Afony Reutov (Homer) over Kyle Matson (Soldotna) (Fall 3:11); 145 — Zach Burns (Soldotna) over Nestor Kalugin (Homer) (Fall 2:26); 152 — Cayleb Diaz (Homer) over Josh Hall (Soldotna) (Fall 1:37); 160 — Mose Hayes (HOM) over Dennis Taylor (Sold) (Dec 3-1) 171: Aiden Willets (Sold) over (HOM) (For.) 189: Anthony Kalugin (HOM) over Sean Babitt (Sold) (Dec 12-6) 215: Ryan Hicks (HOM) over Logan Katzenberger (Sold) (Fall 1:23) 285: Max Rogers (Sold) over Alex Hicks (HOM) (Fall 1:19) 103: Salvatore MacMaster (Sold) over (HOM) (For.) 112: Simon Secor (Sold) over Kayden Crosby (HOM) (Fall 2:34) 119: Hunter Secor (Sold) over (HOM) (For.) 125: Ezekiel Miller (Sold) over (HOM) (For.) 130: Scott Micheal (Sold) over (HOM) (For.) 135: Jakob Brown (Sold) over (HOM) (For.)