Each winning his weight class, Charlie Bower and Cameron Merklin-Bauer led Haines middle school wrestlers to a fourth-place finish among eight teams at the recent Floyd Dryden tournament in Juneau.
About 100 wrestlers competed, including eight from Haines. Participants also came from Juneau, Ketchikan, Hoonah, Pelican and Gustavus.
The competition was the third Dryden tournament for the fledgling, grade-school wrestling program and the first where Haines grapplers were champions, said coach Dennis Durr. “For the number of wrestlers we brought, we had a really strong team,” said Durr.
Although some wrestlers qualified for the statewide meet in Fairbanks, commitments to basketball are pre-empting participation, Durr said. “Almost the entire wrestling team is the basketball team.”
With a 6-0 meet record, eighth-grader Bower placed first in the 100-pound division, pinning his opponent in the final period of the title match. Merklin-Bauer, a seventh-grader, also pinned all six of his opponents, and won the final with a pin in the first period, Durr said.
Other wrestlers scoring for Haines included sixth grader Cole Ripley (4th, 90 pounds), seventh-grader Justin Albecker (3rd, 127 pounds), and eighth-graders Mori Hays (3rd, 140 pounds) and Austin Davis (4th, 148 pounds).
Logan Hotch of Klukwan and seventh-grader Parker Blair also participated.
Durr said he was satisfied with the team’s showing, which bodes well for next year’s high school wrestling team.
“We were just one point out of third (place). With Mori and Charlie, it looks like they’ll contribute to the high school team right away,” Durr said.
Fifteen students have participated in the program since early January, Durr said. The meet marked the end of the squad’s season.