Glacier Bear wrestlers head to their biggest tournament of the year after a boost from the home crowd at last weekend’s Haines tournament.
Former Oregon high school wrestler John Hedrick was among scores residents who turned out at the two-day competition that featured eight teams and 149 matches.
Hedrick said the competition was the first he’d seen in 30 years. "When I used to wrestle there’d be these old, wobbly guys who’d come in the gym and yell at us to make certain moves. We used to always think, ‘Who are those guys?’ I ended up being that guy."
Hedrick said he had fun explaining the sport to members of the Haines volleyball team in the cheering section. "It didn’t really matter that they didn’t understand it all. The sport itself is so exciting, the crowd was into it."
Because the tournament was round-robin, placings weren’t kept but junior Jimmy Thomsen extended his undefeated season, winning five matches. Senior Kenny Thomsen and junior Caullen Taylor each went 4-1, and senior Blake Ward and sophomores Dalton Tuohy and Walker Blair each won three matches.
Coach Dennis Durr said cheering peaked during a battle between freshman Josh Stearns and a Gustavus wrestler in the 220-pound division. "Josh didn’t win but he wrestled hard. I’ve never heard it so loud in there."
Durr said he was encouraged by turnout at the meet. "It looked like a lot of people in town who’d never seen it before thought about checking it out. The people I talked to said it was a blast."
Durr will be taking a competitive team including the Thomsens, Taylor, Ward and sophomore Zach Rossman to the Anchorage Christian School tournament, where about 400 athletes compete.
The tournament is an important one because final standings are used to determine seeds at the state tournament. "It almost translates directly to state. (For wrestlers) to even place in the top eight there would be a pretty good thing.
The team has meets in Craig, Ketchikan, and Juneau before the regional tournament Dec. 2-3 at Mount Edgecumbe.