Soldotna’s Isaac Chavarria wrestles to a major decision over Kenai Central’s Andrew Gaethle at 152 pounds during a dual meet at Kenai Central High School on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Isaac Chavarria wrestles to a major decision over Kenai Central’s Andrew Gaethle at 152 pounds during a dual meet at Kenai Central High School on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

SoHi wrestlers take dual meet from Kenai

The visiting Soldotna wrestling team defeated Kenai Central 69-6 in a dual meet Tuesday night as the Kardinals celebrated senior night.

Despite the final score, no less of an authority than SoHi head coach Neldon Gardner, a 1977 graduate of Kenai Central, said the Kardinals program is headed in the right direction under first-year head coach Jason Chavarria.

“He asked me, because his son (Isaac) wrestles for me, ‘Should I go coach?’” Gardner said of Jason. “And I said, ‘Yes.’ I said I need Kenai, Homer, Nikiski, Seward to get back to where they used to be, and be competitive so that when we come in here and battle, our kids get better.

“So we had some battles out there.”

The Kardinals honored seniors Morgan Stark, Elijah Dambacher, Talon Whicker, Shannon Murphy and Zoticus Active before the match.

Coach Chavarria said his squad is learning what it takes to succeed in wrestling.

“So one thing they’re learning, at least being with me, is the expectations I’ve put on them — their schooling, their health and conditioning, and their weight,” Chavarria said. “Wrestling is not an easy sport. All around. It’s just not easy.”

The coach also was quick to point out that even though the sport is not easy, the sport can still be fun. Chavarria said he appreciates how unique and happy his team is.

“They’re definitely making me a better person,” he said. “They’re all pretty unique. Each one of them has a special capability or attitude or uniqueness about them.

“They’re just funny, man. They’re goofy. They’re not mean or evil, it’s like they’re just silly. They act like children and I like that. You really don’t see that a lot. There’s a lot of teenagers trying to act like adults.”

Gardner also is happy with his squad. He is in his 39th year coaching wrestling and is in his eighth year of his second stint with the Stars. The coach said the program has returned to being good enough to win a state title.

Right now, Gardner said Colony is the team to beat, with Lathrop, South and the Stars right behind.

“I would say this is the first year I’ve seen leadership from my captains and a team unity,” Gardner said. “Before, I’ve not had the leadership I’ve needed for the team unity to build a program to win a state title.

“These kids are a work in progress, but they’re doing well.”

Nicholas Rackley (135), Trevor Michael (140), Tate Stewart (160), Hunter Richardson (189) and Daisy Hannevold (135G) all picked up pins in the dual meet win. Talon Whicker (125) notched a pin for the Kardinals.

Chavarria saw a number of bright spots. The staff drilled Sarai Bravo-Moe at 135 on countering a head-and-arm move by Daisy Hannevold. Chavarria said Bravo-Moe almost pulled off the move, holding on to the head a bit too long.

“Even though she lost, she’s only been wrestling like four weeks,” Chavarria said. “Daisy has been wrestling since she was a kid.”

The coach also said Delen Byrd, who also has been wrestling like four weeks, did well in losing in a technical fall to Nicholas Rackley at 135.

Chavarria also liked the way Reymond Perez wrestled in a 7-0 loss to Edgar Land at 152.

“I was really proud of Rey,” Chavarria said. “Rey was really working a lot of the stuff we’ve been working throughout the week.”

Jason Chavarria also was happy with the way Andrew Gaethle wrestled in a 12-2 major decision loss to Isaac Chavarria at 152.

“They have similar games,” Jason Chavarria said. “Isaac is like his private coach. During the summer he met with him a lot and gave him a lot of lessons.”

Soldotna 69, Kenai Central 6

130 — Ezekiel Miller, Sol, t.f. Owen Whicker, 19-3; 135 — Nicholas Rackley, Sol, p. Antonio Perez, 1:36; 140 — Trevor Michael, Sol, p. Elijah Dambacher, 1:11; 152 — Isaac Chavarria, Sol, m.d. Andrew Gaethle, 12-2; 160 — Tate Stewart, Sol, p. Nathan Teates, 3:06; 171 — Wayne Mellon, Sol, won by forfeit; 189 — Hunter Richardson, Sol, p. Morgan Stark, 1:41; 215 — Kevin Steger, Sol, won by forfeit; 285 — Kenai Lepule, Sol, won by forfeit; 135G — Daisy Hannevold, Sol, p. Sarai Bravo-Moe, 1:40; 103 — Tustin Keller, Sol, won by forfeit; 112 — Simon Willets, Sol, won by forfeit; 119 — double forfeit; 125 — Talon Whicker, Ken, p. Ryan Buchanan, 3:14.

Extra matches

135 — Nicholas Rackley, Sol, t.f. Delen Byrd, 18-3; 152 — Edgar Land, Sol, dec. Reymond Perez, 7-0; 152 — Cameron Cook, Ken, dec. Logan Duyck, 4-3; 152 — Liam Boyd, Sol, p. Shannon Murphy, 1:08; 189 — Joe Whittom, Sol, dec. Zoticus Active, 11-6.

Kenai Central’s Talon Whicker wrestles to a pin of Soldotna’s Ryan Buchanan at 125 pounds during a dual meet at Kenai Central High School on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Talon Whicker wrestles to a pin of Soldotna’s Ryan Buchanan at 125 pounds during a dual meet at Kenai Central High School on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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