Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Soldotna's Bechler Metcalf and Kenai Central's Keyshawn McEnerney tie up at 152 pounds at Kenai Central High School on Thursday. Metcalf scored a 10-4 victory.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Soldotna's Bechler Metcalf and Kenai Central's Keyshawn McEnerney tie up at 152 pounds at Kenai Central High School on Thursday. Metcalf scored a 10-4 victory.

Soldotna takes dual over Kenai

On a snowy Thursday evening at Kenai Central High School, the Soldotna wrestling team took a commanding 54-18 dual win over the host Kardinals in a speedy competition.

If anything, the night served as a warmup act to what is expected to be a hotly contested Northern Lights Conference meet in just over a week.

“I think four of the top teams in the state are in our region,” said Kenai Central coach Stan Steffensen. “Everyone is working hard and at the end of the year, everyone just wants to get better.”

The schools of Soldotna, Kenai, Palmer, Wasilla and Colony hold a combined 38 of 90 ranked wrestlers in the state on the Class 4A level, so the upcoming region tournament — to be held Dec. 9 to 10 on Cliff Massie Court — is expected to be a power display.

Some of that power lit up the gym Thursday evening. Kenai forfeited six matches that gave SoHi 36 automatic points that hurt its chances of winning the dual, but the Stars also recorded several big wins that swayed a lot of points their way.

In the 152-pound bout, Bechler Metcalf of SoHi outlasted Kenai senior Keyshawn McEnerney in a tug-of-war battle. Metcalf trailed 3-0 early but busted out an escape and a takedown to tie it up. McEnerney took a 4-3 match lead on an escape with 45 seconds left, but with under 30 seconds to go, Metcalf rallied back with a takedown to retake the lead, and he never looked back.

“I was really defensive, I was reacting to him, because he has some funky moves,” Metcalf said. “I took a chin whip off one of his shots.”

Making the victory over McEnerney even more special was the fact that Metcalf entered the night as the No. 6 seed in the weight class, while McEnerney is the top grappler in the state at 152.

“I had this drive to win that I got from my dad,” Metcalf said afterward. “He’s always telling me I can be the best.”

Steffensen said McEnerney, the lone senior competing on the Kardinals’ Senior Night, made a few small mistakes that cost him the match.

“Keyshawn got some scrambles and got some points, but I think he might of relaxed a little bit,” he said.

The match showcased a remarkable display of parity within the 152 class, which Gardner touted as the “most stacked” division in the state.

Earlier, in the 195-pound clash, Soldotna’s Austin Schrader scored the win in overtime over Kenai’s Byron Dunham when the two grapplers couldn’t come to a decision after six minutes. Schrader scored the winning points in a 6-4 decision. Dunham is currently the No. 4-ranked wrestler in the state at 182 pounds, and Schrader is typically a weight class or two lower than where he competed Thursday night.

Plus, Schrader has been dealing with the recovery process after he had his wisdom teeth pulled earlier in the season, which left him out of commission for a few weeks.

“You could see he was getting a little tired,” Gardner said.

Kenai’s only points came from Tyler Vaughn’s pin on SoHi’s Darius Martin at 126 pounds, Keaton Logston’s win in the 138 match by injury default over Amanda Wylie, and Jacob Anderson’s pin over Logan Schrader in the 145 bout.

Among other SoHi wins not by forfeit, Logan Craig pinned Kenai’s Pierce Peterson in the first period of the 106-pound bout.

Thursday at Kenai Central High School

Soldotna 54, Kenai 18

98 — double forfeit; 106 — Logan Craig, Sol, pin Pierce Peterson, Ken, 1:03; 113 — Gideon Hutchison, Sol, fft; 120 — double forfeit; 126 — Tyler Vaughn, Ken, pin Darius Martin, Sol, 0:00; 132 — Travis Howell, Sol, fft; 138 — Keaton Logston, Ken, def. Amanda Wylie, Sol, inj; 145 — Jacob Anderson, Ken, pin Logan Schrader, Sol, 2:38; 152 — Bechler Metcalf, Sol, def. Keyshawn McEnerney, Ken, 10-4; 160 — Talon Musgrave, Sol, fft; 170 — Dylan Donham, Sol, fft; 182 — Brenner Furlong, Sol, fft; 195 — Austin Schrader, Sol, def. Byron Dunham, Ken, SV 6-4; 220 — Eli Floyd, Sol, fft; 285 — Austin Reeves, Sol, fft.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Soldotna's Logan Craig works his way to a pin of Kenai Central's Pierce Peterson at Kenai Central High School on Thursday.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Soldotna’s Logan Craig works his way to a pin of Kenai Central’s Pierce Peterson at Kenai Central High School on Thursday.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Soldotna's Amanda Wylie tries to fight off a takedown attempt by Kenai Central's Keaton Logston at Kenai Central High School on Thursday. Logston won the match by injury default.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Soldotna’s Amanda Wylie tries to fight off a takedown attempt by Kenai Central’s Keaton Logston at Kenai Central High School on Thursday. Logston won the match by injury default.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Kenai Central's Byron Dunham tries to control Soldotna's Austin Schrader at 195 on Thursday at Kenai Central High School. Schrader scored a 6-4 sudden victory.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Kenai Central’s Byron Dunham tries to control Soldotna’s Austin Schrader at 195 on Thursday at Kenai Central High School. Schrader scored a 6-4 sudden victory.

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