The revived Glacier Bear wrestling program notched its first victory in a championship match Saturday when junior Jimmy Thomsen defeated Kake junior Angelo Lerma, 12-5, during a 10-team tournament in Wrangell.
"We’ve been in the spotlight a few times, but never a win," said coach Dennis Durr. "That’s a big stepping stone there."
Thomsen, a 16-year-old junior, handily won his first three matches to reach the championship round in the 152-pound weight class. "The last match was definitely the hardest. (Lerma) was pretty strong," Thomsen said. "He took me down on the first round but I recovered."
In the second round, Thomsen scored a reversal and a near fall, then added more points in the third round with more reversals.
Thomsen, who has wrestled since freshman year, said he wasn’t particularly surprised by the win. "I think it’s been building. I’ve been getting better each year from practicing and wrestling hard."
He said he was looking forward to an Oct. 28 tournament in Anchorage, when he’ll see the best wrestlers in the state. "I’ll be able to see all my competition."
Thomsen’s teammates, including older brother Kenny Thomsen, did well enough to put the small Haines team in the middle of the pack at the tournament, Durr said.
"It’s neat that we finally got one under our belt. It’s still too early to say much more. We still have a long way to go," he said.
Haines fans will get a chance to see Glacier Bear wrestlers in action Friday and Saturday at Karl Ward Gymnasium when Haines hosts its only wrestling tournament of the season. Up to 100 wrestlers from small schools are expected.
Senior Kenny Thomsen came close to a championship, losing a final round to a top-seeded Wrangell wrestler to place second in the 138-pound division. His tournament record was 3-1.
To reach the finals, Thomsen had to defeat teammate Caullen Taylor, a junior who wrestled in the same division. "He beat Caullen in a quadruple overtime match. They were neck and neck," Durr said. Taylor placed third in the division.
Senior Blake Ward made an impressive four pins in the 160-pound division to finish third. Ward, 4-1, lost to a Thorne Bay opponent who is Alaska’s number -one seed in the weight class. "He did well," Durr said.
Junior Zach Rossman, a team rookie, had an impressive fourth-place finish at 126 pounds. "He’s in there. He wrestled tough. He went 2-2, but he’s looking good for a rookie."
Sophomore Dalton Tuohy won a few matches at 145 pounds, while classmate Walker Blair and freshman Casey St. Clair also showed improvement, Durr said. "Our young guys are getting better every week. They’re getting in shape and coaches on other teams are noticing their progress."
Durr said he’s hoping for a big turnout at this weekend’s home tournament."We’re hoping people come out and bring their kids and relatives. A lot of the little villages like Angoon, Hoonah, Skagway and Pelican will be represented," Durr said. "(Wrestling) is new to people here but the team has been working hard and it would be great to see that support."
Spectators don’t need a technical knowledge of the sport to appreciate it, he said. "To put a person on their back is the ultimate goal. That’s worth the most points."