This past weekend, Haines High School hosted the Region V wrestling tournament for the first time in memory, and senior Jimmy Thomsen rose to the rare occasion.
Thomsen claimed the title of Southeast small schools champion at 152 pounds, after going 4-0 at the tournament. He and two teammates will travel to the state championship in Nikiski Dec. 7-8.
The Glacier Bears finished in fourth place in the 2A division and sixth place in the entire tournament. Craig, Wrangell and Metlakatla finished first, second and third, respectively, in the 2A division. Mount Edgecumbe finished first overall.
Thirty coaches, 160 wrestlers, and a handful of parents from all over Southeast descended on Haines to watch the competition.
In Saturday’s main event, Thomsen defended his regional title. His opponent Angelo Lerma, last year’s 152-pound runner-up, came into the gym fired up and wanting to upset the hometown crowd.
Lerma was aggressive and kept the match close. With seconds remaining in the final round, Thomsen sealed the deal and his ticket to state. “The crowd got their money’s worth,” said head coach Dennis Durr.
“I felt the tourney went well. I went in with the right mindset and a good game plan and I got first,” Thomsen said. He will go to state as the fourth seed and will compete against the fifth seed Friday morning.
“I feel confident, but not overconfident. I’m going there with the mindset to win,” Thomsen said.
Sophomore Josh Stearns, runner-up in the 220-pound weight class, and freshman Zane Durr, who finished fourth out of nine competitors at 126 pounds, will also travel to state.
“It feels really good. I don’t feel like it has really set in yet, but it’s an honor and I’m just going to compete and do my best,” said Zane Durr.
Zane Durr’s first scheduled opponent hasn’t lost in three years and is ranked number one at the 126-pound weight class. This will also be Stearns’ first time competing at the state level.
“It’s great to be going to state. There is a lot of tough competition up there, and I will be the smallest competitor in my weight class. I hope to place and finish the year strong,” Stearns said.
Senior Caullen Taylor finished 1-1 in the regional meet. He injured his shoulder during a tie match in the quarter-finals and was pinned. Taylor ultimately forfeited the tournament due to injury.
“It’s a disappointing way to finish my senior year,” Taylor said.
Senior Corey Piper battled to finish with a record of 3-2 to put him in sixth place at 132 pounds. Senior Zach Rossman finished 2-2 with what coach Durr called “a solid workman-like performance.” Junior Walker Blair scrapped his way to a 2-3 record, putting him sixth at 160 pounds.
Sophomore Casey St. Clair finished with a record of 1-2. Freshman Kai Hays finished with a record of 2-2 and a promising future in the 160-pound weight class.
For live online coverage of the state meet, visit www.akmat.org. The tournament starts Friday, Dec. 7, at 10 a.m. and ends Saturday night. For more information on the state meet, visit www.akmat.org or www.asaa.org/sports/wrestling.