Wrestling team starts strong; home tournament Oct. 28-29
Led by undefeated senior Nygel Duffy-Webb and impressive rookie performances, the Haines High School wrestling team won 34 matches and lost 20 last weekend at a tournament in Kake.
The showing was the best by the Glacier Bears since wrestling was revived here three years ago, said coach Dennis Durr. "I’m real proud of the guys." Metlakatla, Thunder Mountain, Juneau-Douglas, Kake, Hydaburg and Mount Edgecumbe competed.
A Haines tournament, featuring as many as 100 wrestlers, will be held here Oct. 28-29 and will be a rare opportunity for fans, as the tournament rotates around communities, Durr said.
A seven-year wrestler who transferred here from Colorado, Duffy-Webb won the 135-pound weight class, taking seven matches with pins and making two more pins in exhibition.
"Our team was looking real good, especially for the first tournament of the season, and some of these guys have never wrestled before," Duffy-Webb said.
It was great for Haines wrestlers to beat ones from larger schools, but the season will start in earnest in Ketchikan, when squads will field full rosters, said coach Durr. Edgecumbe is expected to have 50-70 wrestlers and Craig and Petersburg will be tough as well. "This was more of a warm-up. Ketchikan will show us where we really stand."
Last weekend, senior Nathan Piper and sophomore Mario Benassi each placed second in their respective weight classes. Both Piper and Benassi are new to the sport.
"I just gave it my best," said Piper, who qualified to wrestle at 171 pounds but was thrown into a weight class up to 189 pounds. Piper attended school last year in Massachusetts.
Brother Jesse Piper, who led last year’s team and is helping coach this year, has been a boost, he said. Piper and Benassi each went 5-2 in the tournament.
Sophomore Caullen Taylor placed third of seven wrestlers at 135 pounds, with a tournament record of 4-3.
Junior Jerry Strong was third of four wrestlers at 112 pounds; freshman Walker Blair was third of four, wrestling at 125 pounds.
Sophomore team captain Jimmy Thomsen, fourth of eight wrestlers at 145 pounds, narrowly lost to an Edgecumbe wrestler when he ignored a coach’s advice to get to his feet, allowing his opponent to beat him with a "sucker move."
"I should have listened to the coach and let him stand up. I was better on my feet than he was," Thomsen said. Durr said Thomsen was the team’s most improved from last year.
Senior Tyler Thomas competed at 152 pounds but got knocked out in his second match.
Duffy-Webb spent the summer running and boxing in preparation for the season. He explained his outlook toward the sport. "A lot of it’s mental. Once you start losing, you have to learn how to lose. You have to play through getting mad, and keep it under control. You’ve got to know how to correct what you’re doing," he said.
Duffy-Webb said he’s impressed with his teammates. "Up here, they’re strong. That’s good. Hopefully, we can take a number of people to state and place some people."
Other team members are junior Kenny Thomsen, sophomore Corey Piper, and freshmen Dalton Tuohy, Devon Light and Dustin Swift.
Durr replaced outgoing coach Ed May. Assistants include Sage Thomas.