Friday and Saturday at the Halloween Monster Bash Duals, the Soldotna wrestling team took on the best teams in the state and came away with the title.
The Division I Stars kept on rolling by defeating Division II Kenai Central 72-3 under the spotlight at Soldotna High School on Tuesday.
“We’re just trying to promote the sport,” Soldotna head coach Neldon Gardner said of the spotlight setup. “The stands were pretty darn full. It’s nice to see that again. We’re getting more kids on the team and building a bigger fan base. So it’s an exciting time for the sport.”
Gardner also said the rapid growth of girls wrestling has brought more fans into the gym.
At the Monster Bash, SoHi defeated Colony and South in dual meets. The Knights and Wolverines are expected to be top contenders, along with Soldotna, for the Division I crown. Gardner is also waiting to get a look at Lathrop at full strength.
“Right now, anything can happen,” Gardner said. “I’m one of those that doesn’t count chickens until the eggs hatch at the end of the season.”
Kenai head coach Jason Chavarria was well aware of what his team would be facing Tuesday.
“Our wrestlers we have are so young, and we have a very small varsity,” he said. “And we’re having to bump so many new wrestlers up to varsity.
“But that’s what they needed, right? They needed to see where they need to be.”
Chavarria actually has a son on Soldotna’s team in Isaac Chavarria. Last year, Gardner told Jason Chavarria to take the Kenai job and build the Kenai program so the Stars would have some good competition locally.
“I think they’re doing good,” Gardner said. “We talked to a couple of other people in the gym that are wrestling community people. They said, ‘You know, you guys are looking awesome. But Kenai is bringing a program back in town.’
“So I’m all for it.”
Gardner said the victory was a team effort and no wrestler stood out.
Jason Chavarria said the obvious highlight for his team was Daniel Steffensen winning Kenai’s lone match of the night. Steffensen beat fellow freshman Michael Dickinson 6-2.
Chavarria said the two have been wrestling against each other their entire lives, though they are now 1-1 against each other in high school.
“Daniel is actually wrestling up to wrestle Michael,” Chavarria said. “That’s what we want, man. Great matches make you better.”
Chavarria also liked that Cameron Cook wanted to wrestle Isaac Chavarria at 152. Isaac got the pin.
“Props to Cameron. He wanted it and he worked for it,” Jason said.
Jason Chavarria said that in many matches, getting his wrestlers to believe they could wrestle with the Stars still proved a tough task. SoHi was able to earn pins in all the matches except for Kenai’s Reymond Perez losing 6-1 to Hunter Bras in an exhibition at 140.
Chavarria also liked the way Jayden Rodgers-Whipple went out and wrestled aggressively.
“Some of them are catching the vision, because it’s a vision, right?” Chavarria said. “Some of them are catching that vision and running with it. Others are not believers yet.
“You have to make them believe in themselves. And that’s the job of the coach.”
Stars 72, Kardinals 3
103 — Sam Strouse, Sol, won by forfeit; 112 — Jace Guilliam, Sol, won by forfeit; 119 — Jacob Strausbaugh, Sol, won by forfeit; 130 — Ezekiel Miller, Sol, won by forfeit; 135 — Daniel Steffensen, Ken, def. Michael Dickinson, 6-2; 140 — Hunter Bras, Sol, p. Owen Whicker, 3:58; 145 — Nicholas Rackley, Sol, p. Delen Byrd, 5:23; 152 — Isaac Chavarria, Sol, p. Cameron Cook, 4:35; 160 — Edgar Land, Sol, won by forfeit; 171 — Collin Peck, Sol, p. Jayden Rodgers-Whipple, 0:33; 189 — Hunter Richardson, Sol, won by forfeit; 215 — Rodney McNeel, Sol, won by forfeit; 285 — Kevin Steger, Sol, p. Ryan Yeager, Ken, 0:12.
Varsity girls: 132 — Kaytlin McAnelly, Sol, p. Sarai Bravo-Moe, 0:51; 138 — Daisy Hannevold, Sol, p. Jalyn Yeoman.
Exhibition: 140 — Hunter Bras, Sol, dec. Reymond Perez, 6-1; 152 — Trevor Michael, Sol, p. Bryce Jolicoeur, 3:36; 152 — Liam Peck, Sol, p. Macallen Marion, 1:53; 160 — Liam Boyd, Sol, p. Davis Deese, 0:54; 171 — Jaykob Kemp, Sol, p. Jayden Rodgers-Whipple, 1:57; 138 girls — Kaytlin McAnelly, Sol, p. Isabella Asi, 1:21; 152 girls — Trinity Donovan, Sol, p. Jenna Yeoman, 4:45; 152 girls — Erin Bell, Sol, p. Elisha Beans, 0:18.