Soldotna’s Kaytlin McAnelly celebrates winning the girls title at 132 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Kaytlin McAnelly celebrates winning the girls title at 132 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna girls, Seward boys win state wrestling titles

Kenai Peninsula sweeps Most Outstanding Wrestler awards

The Soldotna girls and Seward boys won state wrestling titles Saturday at the state wrestling meet at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.

The Stars scored 212 points to swamp the 115.5 of runner-up Colony. Soldotna also set the record for most points scored at state since the Alaska School Activities Association started keeping girls team scores in 2017.

The Seahawks scored 184 points to take the Division II title, topping the 137 of runner-up Haines. It was second state title in school history, with the last coming in 1999 when the Division II level was called Class 1-2-3A.

The Kenai Peninsula swept the Most Outstanding Wrestlers at the meet, with Soldotna’s Kaytlin McAnelly winning for girls, Seward’s Hunter Forshee-Kurtz winning for Division II and Soldotna’s Trevor Michael winning for Division I.

Homer won the sportsmanship award, while SoHi’s Max LeClair was the girls assistant coach of the year.

The peninsula put wrestlers in 21 finals, winning 13 of them. That was after the peninsula put wrestlers in 16 finals at last year’s state meet, winning 14 titles.

All the peninsula’s schools have had past periods of success. Those embers of tradition are now fully aflame thanks to several factors.

Seward head coach Brian Mullaly said the wrestling club scene and school scene are strong and everybody is getting better.

“The peninsula is definitely getting a lot of exposure with wrestling in the club and school season,” Mullaly said. “It’s paying off. There’s a lot of good wrestling coming off the peninsula.”

Then there’s the All American Training Center. The 15,000-foot facility just on the outside of Soldotna’s city limits was opened in the summer of 2020 by Pete and Tanya Dickinson. Pete also is the head coach at Soldotna High School and Skyview Middle School.

“I’m super proud of Seward,” Dickinson said. “A lot of those kids come and train with us. And some of the Kenai kids and Nikiski kids.

“We’re there to build it, and send them back to build their programs as well.”

If Saturday is any indication, it’s working.

Peninsula girls won all seven of their finals. The Stars went 5 for 5, with Jessica LeClair taking 100 pounds, Valarie McAnelly taking 107, Rowan Peck taking 120, Kaytlin McAnelly taking 132 and Daisy Hannevold taking 138. Homer’s Saorise Cook (126) and Roane Cook (185) won state titles for a second straight year.

At Division II, the peninsula had eight finalists, winning four. Seward received titles from Tommy Jarnig at 103, Ridge Conant at 112 and Hunter Forshee-Kurtz at 130. That’s the first time in school history the Seahawks won three state titles at a single meet.

Daniel Steffensen won for Kenai Central at 140, joining sister, Hope, and brothers Ellery and Paul as state champions.

The SoHi boys won 2 of their 6 finals, with Jacob Strausbaugh winning at 125 for a second-straight title and Michael winning at 152. SoHi finished third in the team scores, with South repeating as champion.

Dickinson said one big advantage of the All American Training Center is it has mats rolled out year-round. He said that type of access is vital for success in wrestling, particularly in Alaska and on the Kenai Peninsula.

The season in Alaska is short, starting this year on Sept. 27. The problem on the peninsula is that the football season is not over yet at that time.

Seward and Nikiski played for the nine-man state title Oct. 7. That’s the same day Homer’s season ended with a loss to Kenai in the Division III semifinals. The Kardinals defeated Barrow for the state title a week later.

Soldotna’s season didn’t end until winning the Division II state title Oct. 21. That’s less than two months before the state tournament.

“Year-round wrestling, it’s really required nowadays,” Dickinson said. “It’s difficult to compete at this level with a season that’s just two or three months.”

The ramped up wrestling has shown the last two years. The peninsula won 7 of 11 finals in 2017, 7 of 10 in 2018, 6 of 8 in 2019, 6 of 10 in the pandemic-delayed spring of 2021 and 6 of 9 in 2021.

Girls

Dickinson also is involved with the Soldotna Whalers Wrestling Club. That club worked hard to increase the number of girls wrestlers.

Now in his third year at Skyview, Dickinson also pushed to get separate wrestling divisions for girls at middle school so they would not have to wrestle boys. That change took effect last year.

“We finally got that changed and I was able to recruit a pile of great girls at Skyview,” Dickinson said. “It just flourished from there, you know?”

The peninsula already had a pioneering tradition around girls wrestling. Tela O’Donnell, of Homer and Nikiski high school fame, was a member of the Olympic wrestling team in 2004, the first year of women’s wrestling at the Olympics.

In 2006, Skyview’s Michaela Hutchison became the nation’s first girl to win a state high school championship against boys. Kenai’s Hope Steffensen also won a Class 4A title against boys in 2010, and Homer’s McKenzie Cook and Soldotna’s Trinity Donovan are four-time state girls champs.

That history and the fresh push for girls wrestling created a momentum for the record performance of the SoHi girls and for the peninsula winning 7 of the 12 girls state titles awarded Saturday. SoHi’s girls title was the first state wrestling team title for SoHi and the first girls title for the peninsula.

Soldotna was favored in only two of the five state finals.

“You know, Max is a great coach,” Dickinson said of the girls assistant of the year. “We’ve got great coaches and we push the girls to really perform, and they went out and they performed.”

Kaytlin McAnelly, a senior, won a state title in just her second year of wrestling after taking sixth last year. McAnnelly, the No. 2 seed, took down undefeated and returning state champ Isabel Lieb of Bethel with a 6-4 decision in the final.

“I practice with Daisy, she won state for 138,” McAnelly said. “So, I got to train with a state champ every day. I think that’s why I got so good.

“The training atmosphere and the coaches — we’re a good team. We stick together, we’re all friends and we enjoy being around each other.”

Hannevold, a junior and the top seed, broke through for her first state title by pinning No. 2 seed Annika Johnson of Chugiak. Hannevold had lost to Lieb in the state final last season.

“I’ve just been kind climbing the podium,” Hannevold said. “I was third my freshman year, last year I was second and now I’m finally first.

“Hopefully, I’ll do it again next year.”

LeClair, also a junior, followed a similar path. She didn’t place as a freshman, then took sixth as a sophomore.

The top seed, LeClair pinned No. 3 seed Kaelynn Seidl of Wasilla in the final.

LeClair said her title and Strausbaugh’s title came from hard work.

“Getting up at 4:30 a.m. every morning before school and getting like an hour and a half workout, then drilling a little bit after practice as well,” LeClair said.

Freshmen Rowan Peck and Valarie McAnelly were able to pull off upsets for their wins.

Peck, the second seed, got a 4-3 decision over top seed Pagan Lester of Newhalen. Peck trailed by a point but got a takedown with less than 10 seconds left for the win. Lester had won their previous matchup this season.

“All I had left was 10 seconds,” Peck said. “There’s nothing else I could do. If I got it, I got it. And I did.”

Valarie McAnelly, the No. 2 seed, had wrestled top seed Lauren Bodeen of Eagle River four times this season and lost every time. This time, she got a pin at 5:27.

What changed this time?

“I wanted it more,” McAnelly said.

Also in the girls tourney, Saorise and Roane Cook continued to pile up state titles for the family. Saoirse, a sophomore, and Roane, a senior, both have two titles. That’s in addition to the four of McKenzie and one of brother Tristen.

Saoirse, the top seed, was able pin No. 2 Sarah Callender of Palmer in 5:17. Up until catching Callender and putting her on her back, the match was scoreless through the third period.

Matching McKenzie is now squarely in the sights of Saoirse.

“It feels awesome,” she said. “I want to get to four so bad. It’s my goal.”

Roane, the top seed, also played it cool until the third period, actually going down to No. 3 seed Nikayla Miller of Redington before notching a pin at 5:43.

“My older siblings won it and my little sister’s probably going to get another one today,” Roane said. “It’s just a family thing and I’m just really happy I could get it.”

Homer was ninth in the team scores, while Kenai was 20th, Nikiski was 34th and Seward was 46th.

Also placing for Soldotna were Meg Roberts in third at 235, Megan Whittom in fourth at 100, Angelina Chavarria in sixth at 114 and Alyssa McDonald in sixth at 165.

Jenna Yeoman was third at 152 for Kenai and Destiny Langston was fifth at 235 for Nikiski.

Division II

The Seahawks brought just eight boys wrestlers to state and won it all.

“The core just came to life,” Mullaly said. “They came in, they’re excited to be here, they wrestled to their full potential and it just made a difference.”

Like other peninsula schools, Seward has the building blocks of past successes to build upon. Mullaly said there are more strong wrestlers at the middle school level.

“It takes a village,” he said. “We have a lot of great guys that come in to coach. We have a couple of great coaches back in Seward that don’t travel.

“They’ve got family stuff, but they come in with their technique and skills and they bring a lot to the room.”

Jarnig, the top seed, got Seward started at 103 with a technical fall of No. 3 Laiton Pingayak of Chevak.

The junior said the key to his first state title was the confidence he got by gaining some weight and getting up to 103.

“I was lighter, so I was not confident,” Jarnig said of his first two years.

Conant, the third seed, kept things rolling at 112 by pinning top seed Hayden Jimenez of Haines. Conant, just a freshman, had lost his only other match to Jimenez this season.

He said mind-set was the difference.

“We knew we hadn’t won state since 1999,” he said. “Everyone had a killer mind-set. We wanted to win state. We wanted to have our names on that board.”

By winning as a freshman, Conant is in position to be Seward’s first three-time state champ. But there are candidates to beat him to it.

At 119, Seward’s Aidan Schilling, seeded second, lost a 4-2 decision to No. 4 seed Dylan Mccambly of Dillingham. Schilling, a junior with two state titles already to his credit, was slowed by injury in the match. Aidan still has a chance to beat the two state titles won by his father, Chris Schilling, for Seward.

Forshee-Kurtz, the top seed, pinned No. 2 seed Tristan Tilden of Dillingham. The junior didn’t lose to a Division II wrestler all season and has a third state title as a goal.

“We push ourselves really hard and we make ourselves better,” Forshee-Kurtz said. “That’s what wrestling does. I love my team and I wouldn’t give them up for anything.”

Seward also received a third from Emery Kirchner at 112, a third from Alejandro Sanchez at 135, a third from Anthony Smith at 140 and a fourth from John Van Buskirk at 285.

Kenai Central sophomore Steffensen, the top seed, won at 140 with a 16-5 major decision over No. 2 seed Aidan Laselle of Redington.

Steffensen, who didn’t lose to a Division II opponent all season, has a chance to beat the two state titles won by brothers Paul and Ellery. Hope, who was in attendance Saturday, won one state title.

Daniel’s father, longtime Kenai Middle and High School coach Stan Steffensen, did point out that he had won three state titles in high school.

“I was always growing up and watching them win,” Daniel said of his brothers and sister. “It’s a dream to finally get one. It’s great.”

Kenai finished fifth in the team scores, while Nikiski was sixth and Homer was 10th. As recently as 2021, the Kardinals, at ninth, were the only peninsula school in the top 10 at Division II state.

Homer’s lone finalist, No. 2 seed Brayden Woods, lost a 6-1 decision to top seed Keegan Hanson of Wrangell at 152.

Nikiski put two in the finals — No. 3 seed Truit McCaughey at 215 and No. 2 seed Mayaac Schmit at 285. Both were pinned by top seeds — Sitka’s Aiden Ojala at 215 and Barrow’s three-time state champ Uatahouse Tuifua at 285.

Also for Kenai, Jaxson Young was third at 119, Keagan Stanley was third at 152 and Delen Byrd was sixth at 145.

For Nikiski, Frank St. Denis was fourth at 152 and Rex Wittmer was sixth at 285.

For Homer, Paul Minke was third at 145, Justus Grimes was fourth at 135 and Luca Fitzpatrick was sixth at 103.

Division I

It’s crazy it took this long to get to the match of Michael at 152, but such is the state of wrestling on the peninsula.

In the first round of matches of the night, Michael, the No. 2 seed, trailed top seed Zane Gerlach of South by the score of 10-4 with just 23 seconds left in the match.

Down that many points, the only way Michael could win was a pin and he managed just that with just two seconds left. Michael was on the bottom and he said the key was getting Gerlach’s arm.

“I was able to flip him over with my hips — I popped my hips pretty good and flipped him over on his back,” Michael said. “I just put my arm around his head and was able to get him, you know, flat.”

Dickinson said the match shows what makes high school wrestling great, and enough coaches agreed to make Michael the Most Outstanding Wrestler.

“It takes just two seconds and you can pin them,” Dickinson said. “It’s never over until that last whistle. Trevor is the kind of kid that knows that and trains for that.”

Michael, a junior, said the win was particularly sweet with his brother, Scott, in attendance. Scott was a senior last year and lost a chance at a state title when he took a controversial loss in the semifinals for slamming an opponent.

“I really don’t feel like that was a slam — it’s just how you view it,” Michael said. “I was really trying to win this one for him and my family.”

Strausbaugh’s win was less dramatic. The top seed notched an 18-5 major decision over No. 2 seed Jacob Morris of South. Strausbaugh, a junior, now has two state titles.

Strausbaugh lost to Morris in the first meet of this season. He said the morning and night workouts, also attended by LeClair, helped turn the table.

“I just didn’t wrestle to my full potential and trust the process that the coaches had given me,” Strausbaugh said of that first loss.

The Stars lost four finals. At 112, Carson Cobb, the No. 4 seed, had to forfeit after getting injured in the semifinals against top seed Max Francisco of East.

At 119, top seed Titus Watts of Soldotna lost an 8-4 decision to No. 2 seed Anan Siackhasone of South.

At 140, No. 2 seed Michael Dickinson lost a 7-5 decision to top seed Kenton Cooke of East, who is committed to wrestle at Division I South Dakota State.

At 171, No. 3 seed Collin Peck was pinned by top seed Roth Powers of South.

Coach Dickinson said the Stars were hurt by injuries in the team standings. In addition to Cobb, Bowen Korth, Hunter Bras and Tustin Keller had ailments that cost the team points.

Also for the Stars, Kenai Lepule was third at 285, Ryan Buchanan was fifth at 119, Keller was sixth at 130, Bras was sixth at 145, Korth was sixth at 171 and Sam Henry was sixth at 103.

Dickinson said highlights were Lepule winning three overtime matches and Henry showing heart because he gives up 30 pounds in every match.

Seward’s Ridge Conant works his way to a pin of Haines’ Hayden Jimenez in the Division II final at 112 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Ridge Conant works his way to a pin of Haines’ Hayden Jimenez in the Division II final at 112 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

South’s Roth Powers controls Soldotna’s Collin Peck on the way to a pin in the Division I championships match at 171 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

South’s Roth Powers controls Soldotna’s Collin Peck on the way to a pin in the Division I championships match at 171 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

East’s Kenton Cooke wrestles to a 7-5 decision over Soldotna’s MIchael Dickinson in the Division I title match at 140 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

East’s Kenton Cooke wrestles to a 7-5 decision over Soldotna’s MIchael Dickinson in the Division I title match at 140 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Daisy Hannevold wins the girls state title at 138 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Daisy Hannevold wins the girls state title at 138 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Hunter Forshee-Kurtz works his way to a pin of Tristan Tilden in the Division II title match at 130 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Hunter Forshee-Kurtz works his way to a pin of Tristan Tilden in the Division II title match at 130 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Jacob Strausbaugh escapes from South’s Jacob Morris on the way to an 18-5 victory in the Division I title match at 125 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Jacob Strausbaugh escapes from South’s Jacob Morris on the way to an 18-5 victory in the Division I title match at 125 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Tommy Jarnig works his way to a technical fall over Chevak’s Laiton Pingayak in the Division II final at 103 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Tommy Jarnig works his way to a technical fall over Chevak’s Laiton Pingayak in the Division II final at 103 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Kaytlin McAnelly wrestles to a 6-4 decision over Bethel’s Isabel Lieb in the girls title match at 132 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Kaytlin McAnelly wrestles to a 6-4 decision over Bethel’s Isabel Lieb in the girls title match at 132 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Jessica LeClair works her way to a pin of Wasilla’s Kaelynn Seidl in the girls finals at 100 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Jessica LeClair works her way to a pin of Wasilla’s Kaelynn Seidl in the girls finals at 100 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

The Kenai Peninsula swept the Most Outstanding Wrestlers with Soldotna’s Kaytlin McAnelly winning for girls, Soldotna’s Trevor Michael winning for Division I and Seward’s Hunter Forshee-Kurtz winning for Division II on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

The Kenai Peninsula swept the Most Outstanding Wrestlers with Soldotna’s Kaytlin McAnelly winning for girls, Soldotna’s Trevor Michael winning for Division I and Seward’s Hunter Forshee-Kurtz winning for Division II on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Rowan Peck wrestles her way to a 4-3 decision over Newhalen’s Pagan Lester in the girls title match at 120 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Rowan Peck wrestles her way to a 4-3 decision over Newhalen’s Pagan Lester in the girls title match at 120 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Roane Cook works her way to a pin of Redington’s Nikayla Miller at 185 pounds at the girls tournament Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Roane Cook works her way to a pin of Redington’s Nikayla Miller at 185 pounds at the girls tournament Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Trevor Michael hugs Soldotna head coach Pete Dickinson as assistants Max LeClair and Phil Leck celebrate. Michael won the Division I state title at 152 pounds by pinning South’s Zane Gerlach on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Trevor Michael hugs Soldotna head coach Pete Dickinson as assistants Max LeClair and Phil Leck celebrate. Michael won the Division I state title at 152 pounds by pinning South’s Zane Gerlach on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Aiden Schilling loses a 4-2 decision to Dillingham’s Dylan Mccambly in the Division II final at 119 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Aiden Schilling loses a 4-2 decision to Dillingham’s Dylan Mccambly in the Division II final at 119 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Saoirse Cook works her way to a pin of Palmer’s Sarah Callender in the girls title match at 126 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Saoirse Cook works her way to a pin of Palmer’s Sarah Callender in the girls title match at 126 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward celebrates winning the Division II state wrestling title Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward celebrates winning the Division II state wrestling title Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna celebrates winning the girls state wrestling title Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna celebrates winning the girls state wrestling title Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Daniel Steffensen wrestles to a 22-13 victory over Redington’s Aidan Laselle in the Division II title match at 140 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Daniel Steffensen wrestles to a 22-13 victory over Redington’s Aidan Laselle in the Division II title match at 140 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Sitka’s Aiden Ojala works his way to a pin of Nikiski’s Truit McCaughey in the Division II final at 215 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Sitka’s Aiden Ojala works his way to a pin of Nikiski’s Truit McCaughey in the Division II final at 215 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Valarie McAnelly works her way to a pin of Eagle River’s Lauren Bodeen in the girls final at 107 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna’s Valarie McAnelly works her way to a pin of Eagle River’s Lauren Bodeen in the girls final at 107 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

South’s Anan Siackhasone works his way to an 8-4 decision over Soldotna’s Titus Watts in the Division I title match at 119 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

South’s Anan Siackhasone works his way to an 8-4 decision over Soldotna’s Titus Watts in the Division I title match at 119 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Brayden Woods wrestles to a 6-1 loss to Wrangell’s Keegan Hanson in the Division II finals at 152 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer’s Brayden Woods wrestles to a 6-1 loss to Wrangell’s Keegan Hanson in the Division II finals at 152 pounds Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at the state wrestling tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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