Starr Erikson is wrestling champion
Starr Erikson took the top spot on the podium in the 112-pound category at the Alaska State Championships held in Anchorage on Dec. 14-15.
Erikson won the final match in a fall at 1 minute and 55 seconds. While Erikson won her division, her team mates on the Nome-Beltz wrestling squad faced tough competition and also managed to place well.
Two Nanook boys took second places. Caleb Evatt, a 125-pounder, lost to Homer’s Seth Inama in the championship match, earning the second spot. In the same weight category, JJ Marble wrestled to fifth place.
In the 145-lbs division, Ben Cross took second, losing in the championship match to a Glennallen wrestler. Elden Cross was sixth at 152 lbs.
“I think it went really well,” said Nanook coach Charles Cross. “The tournament went really well. We had two wrestlers take second, Caleb Evatt and Ben Cross. And Starr Erickson is state champion at her weight.”
The Nugget asked Coach Cross about the road system wrestlers having more matches under their belt by the time state comes around. Does that matter?
“I would say that in the big picture it does make a difference,” replied the coach. “Starting from middle school all the way through high school it costs these other schools so much less money to get to competitions than it does for us. So we end up having to spend thousands of dollars every time we want to go to a tournament. And that’s just for air travel. For them it’s renting a bus or just driving across town. It’s considerably cheaper from elementary school all the way through high school. They get quite a bit more matches over the course of four years. Over six years it means hundreds more matches. It plays a part but it’s not everything. Another point to consider is our athletes in Nome typically are multi-sport athletes. In some schools if you play basketball that’s the sport you play. If you wrestle that’s the sport you participate in. There are not multisport athletes like there are out in Western Alaska.”
What happens to Nome’s wrestlers once the season is over? “No more wrestling until next September,” answered Coach Cross. “There is no club. In these other locations there are clubs where they wrestle freestyle and Greco Roman and so they continue to wrestle year round. For Nome, the issue is cost. So our wrestlers are either doing no sport or moving on to other sports. Right now it’s basketball and others are getting ready for skiing.”
And what about the coach? What does he do now that the season is over?
“My preparation doesn’t really stop. Today I watched the same amount of wrestling videos as before. Like all the other wrestling coaches I go back to doing normal things.”
Wrestling is a sport, which is common to most cultures around the world. It is also a sport that has changed very little over time.
“Some early explorers who came to the Bering Strait region observed a lot of wrestling on St. Lawrence Island,” said Coach Cross. “Wrestling is universal. It’s a great test of strength and endurance and it’s a great sport.”