James, Evatt lead Nanook wrestlers at Nome Invite
The south wall of the Nome-Beltz gym became a huge projection screen for most of Friday and Saturday - the telltale sign that the annual Nome Wrestling Invite meet was under way. The large illumination listed pairs of wrestlers from as far north as Barrow and as far south as Bethel, and announced the order of non-stop action taking place on either one of two, large blue mats that nearly covered the entire gym floor.
By the time awards were announced late Saturday evening, after 15 hours of wrestling action, two Nanooks varsity boys found themselves on top the podium of their respective weight classifications, and two Nanook varsity girls had claimed first place in the girls division.
Nome senior co-captain Tim James has been a member of the Nome wrestling program for six years. The 2015 state tournament participant become one of 14 Nome Wrestling Invite varsity boys champions by posting a perfect 4-0 record in the round-robin style competition at the 170-pound weight class.
James’ first two matches were against members of the Kotzebue Huskies, a team that took third place at the 2015 state tournament. James pinned Billy Nelson in one minute 54 seconds, and then dispatched Jack Hyatt in a 7-2 decision. He finished pool action with pins over Jon Avalnun of Gambell in 3:13, and Charlie Tikik of Kotzebue in 43 seconds.
Sophomore Caleb Evatt is still relatively new to the sport, but is having early success in his second year as a wrestler. He wrestled in the 113-pound weight class last weekend after placing sixth at the 2015 state tournament at 98 pounds.
Like James, Evatt went undefeated in the round-robin matches of his weight classification. He started off the competition by recording a pin over Jarius Allain of Bethel, who wrestles for a team that took second at state last year. He won by scores of 16-1 over Sammy Keovilayhong of Barrow, and 6-4 over Nome teammate JJ Marble. Evatt secured first place by pinning Darien Washington of St. Michael in 1:42.
The Nanooks’ Ben Cross took a big step toward making his second trip to the state tournament by placing second in the 138-pound weight class, which had enough wrestlers to have a championship bracket. On his way to the finals, Cross beat Nuq Alexie-Leonard of Bethel, 6-3, and recorded pins over Andrew Aningayou of Gambell in 1:53 and Kevin Bergman of Galena in 58 seconds. He beat Bradley Brower of Barrow 8-4 to advance to the first place match, where he was pinned by Bethel’s Hayden Lieb in 3:35.
Other varsity boys weight class winners were Thomas Dyment, Bethel (106 pounds), Adrian Smith, Bethel (120 pounds), Tristen Evan, Bethel (126 pounds), Carl Charlie, Bethel (132 pounds), Mian Alexie-Leonard, Bethel (145 pounds), Kagan Stockton, Barrow (152 pounds), Isiah Passi, Barrow (160 pounds), Louis Edenshaw, Kotzebue (182 pounds), Sikulik Johnson, Unalakleet (195), Ryan Smith, Bethel (220 pounds) and Thomas Tocktoo, Galena (285 pounds).
Nome’s remaining varsity boys participants were JJ Marble (3rd place at 113 pounds), Elden Cross (9th at 132), Josh Cannon (2nd at 145), Cody Ferris (4th at 152), Owen Hebel (6th at 152), Aaron Rose (2nd at 152), Chase Marvin (3rd at 182) and Zach Tozier (3rd at 285).
“It’s just a base builder,” said senior co-captain Tozier about the importance of the Nome Wrestling Invite to his team. “This is the second meet of the year, so it’s just something to base off where you are at, and just get better from it,” he said.
High School Girls Results
The Nanooks’ Starr Erikson is making a name for herself among Alaska’s high school girls wrestlers. Erikson, who placed sixth at state last year at 106 pounds, won the 113-pound girls weight class at the 2016 Nome Wrestling Invite by pinning Devine Lake of Galena in 1:31, and Carrmella McCall of Kotzebue in 1:55.
Nome’s Sierra Tucker also ran the table with three straight pins on her way to claiming first place at the 145-pound weight classification. She took down Denise Adams of Koyuk in 4:41, Sylvia Nayokpuk of Shishmaref in 3:44 and Megan Black of Galena in 1:54.
Erikson and Tucker were joined in competition by teammates Sonja Hukill and Anna Peterson, who took third an fourth place respectively at 132 pounds.
Madison Hadley of Kotzebue won the 120-pound girls weight class. Lindsay Beans-Polk captured first place in the 132-pound class.
Smith leads middle schoolers
The Nome Invitational also featured lively contests for sixth through eighth graders. Because of the limited number of girl participants, all middle school wrestlers were grouped together is similar weight classes.Showing that she was undaunted by the challenge, Nome’s Katie Smith beat four boys en route to a first-place finish in the 113-pound weight classification. She started things off by pinning Raymond Ningeulook of Shishmaref in 1:40 and then took down David Cardenas of Nome in 33 seconds. Her closest match was a fourth round 7-6 win over Elijah Saccheus of Elim. Smith capped her perfect weekend with a 14-1 win over Lucas Marvin of Nome.
Other Nome middle school competitors were Seth Noon (2nd place at 80 pounds), Ethan Hannon (1st at 80 pounds), Parker Kenick (5th place at 92 pounds), Karlin Ahwinona-Smith (2nd at 92 pounds), Andy Peterson (7th at 92 pounds), Natallie Tobuk (6th at 92 pounds), Paris Hebel (3rd at 92 pounds), Gary Olanna (4th at 98 pounds), David Cardenas (2nd at 113 pounds), Lucas Marvin (3rd at 113 pounds), Sadie Ellison (2nd at 126 pounds), Elijah Quandiaz (1st at 285 pounds) and Deklan Agloinga (3rd at 285 pounds).
“I’m blessed this year, and have been the last couple of years,” said Nanooks head coach Dudley Homelvig in reference to the large cast of on-the-mat supporters he has with the team. Homelvig said his assistant coaches are Corey Erikson and Duke McGuffey. Also coming to help Nome wrestlers during the team’s practices at the National Guard Armory Building are Jared Miller, Lonny and Emery Booshu, Matt Michaels, Koren Green, Chase Madden and Charlie Cross.
All that help is “really great for the kids,” explains Homelvig. Having extra people at meets frees the longtime Nome coach of coaching duties during matches, allowing him to concentrate on taking notes, and developing future technique plans for each wrestler.
The Nanooks continue their season next weekend at Seward's “King of the Mountain” meet.
Top BSSD results
The 2016 Nome Wrestling Invite was attended by six Bering Strait School District teams. Two squads were led by 2015 state meet participants.
Unalakleet’s Sikulik Johnson, who wrestled at 182 pounds during last year’s ASAA tournament, took first place at 195 pounds last weekend. Unalakleet’s Colton Ivanoff took first place in the middle school’s 98-pound weight class.
Gambell brought only high school competitors. They were led by Ben Apangalook, who took third at 220 pounds. Apangalook attended the 2015 state meet at the same weight. Also earning third place finishes for Gambell were Andrew Aningayou at 138 pounds, and Jon Avalnun at 170 pounds.
Elim’s top varsity finisher was Russel Saccheus, who placed second in the 220-pound weight class. Leroy Bradley placed first in the middle school’s 126-pound class. Koyuk’s top high school placer was Gerald Kimoktoak who took third at 145 pounds. Both Denin Prentice (92 pounds) and Ben Homekingkeo (138 pounds) took first in their middle school weight classes.
Shishmaref's top varsity performer was Sylvia Nayokpuk who took third in the 145-pound girls weight classification. Clare Junger (98 pounds) and Raymond Ningeulook (113 pounds) both took fifth in their respective middle school categories. Gunnar Oyoumick’s fifth place finish in the 113-pound class was St. Michael’s top varsity performance. Mathias Ambrose took second in the 98-pound middle school category.