Classifieds | Place a class ad | PDF Edition | Home Delivery | How to cancel
By A.J. JANKOWSKI
Daily News Sports Editor
Dalton Spear has wrestled enough matches not to let the crowd influence his emotions.
Even when chants of his name echo throughout the Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium — as they did before the 152-pound championship at Saturday’s Bill Weiss Invitational wrestling tournament — he keeps his mind clear.
"From my past experience, I've learned to calm myself down and not get all pumped up before my match," the Kayhi senior said. "I learned to think and wrestle at the same time."
Spear was one of four Ketchikan wrestlers to win a title at the Bill Weiss tournament, as the Kings won the event with 209 points, 93 ahead of its nearest competitor.
"This team is an amazing team," said head coach Bill McLaughlin. "I say this every year, but every year these kids come out and wrestle hard for me, and give me everything they've got. I could go through every kid and talk about their efforts."
Let’s start with Spear, who capped off an undefeated tournament (4-0) by defeating Kake’s Angelo Lerma, 10-6, under the spotlight in the finals.
Spear wasted no time scoring on Lerma, who attempted the bout’s first shot, but was quickly taken down and turned by Spear.
"I knew he was a big thrower, and he was a go-hard-go-at-it-type of wrestler," Spear said. "I waited for his mistake to go and make my move."
The senior led 8-1 after the first period, but stayed vigilant until the final buzzer, wary of Lerma’s pinning potency.
Wrestling smart has been Spear’s mantra thus far in his final season, and is the main reason why he is 10-1, his coach said.
"(Spear) knows what's coming, and he knows what to do with it," McLaughlin said. "He got out of position a couple times (against Lerma), but again, he realized, 'Hey, I'm up by six; losing a takedown doesn't hurt me. Fighting it and putting myself in bad position might. So yeah, you can have the takedown — I'll take the championship.'"
Kayhi had a total of eight wrestlers in the Bill Weiss finals; four of which were either freshmen or sophomores. Freshmen Trevor Wutzke and Nate Fousel were unable to top the podium, but both gained valuable experience at 98 and 170 pounds, respectively.
"Freshmen in the finals of this tournament, the grind that it is, it's experience," McLaughlin said. "They are going to learn and develop from it. By the end of the year, they are going to be able to accomplish more because of it."
Kadin Hallstrom, a classmate of Fousel and Wutzke, got a three-day crash course in redemption that ended with a first-place finish.
On Thursday, Hallstrom dropped an 11-9 decision to Wrangell’s Alex Cano in the teams’ dual match. On Saturday, the two stepped back into the circle to decide who walked away with the 113-pound bracket.
The two fought back and forth, scoring takedowns and reversals, until Hallstrom pulled away in the second period. He turned a one-point deficit (4-3) into a four-point lead (8-4) thanks to a takedown and three back points.
Hallstrom sealed the deal in the final moments, taking down Cano a fourth time, winning 14-6.
"Oh my god, I just won my first high school tournament," was what Hallstrom said he was thinking as the last seconds ticked away. "I could tell he was done. He wasn't moving or doing anything. It felt awesome."
McLaughlin felt the same way, enthusiastically celebrating within the tiny corner of the mat allotted for coaches.
"Kadin's a gamer," the coach said. "It's one of the things that you can't teach. If you get him into the finals, he just finds ways to win."
In the 106-pound finals, Kayhi sophomore Marcus Martin, who hadn’t wrestled this season until the Bill Weiss tournament, showed no rust from the offseason.
After 30 seconds of hand fighting with Mt. Edgecumbe’s Moses Jackson, Martin put Jackson from his feet to his back in the blink of an eye.
"It was pretty surprising," Martin said. "I honestly didn't think I was going to get that throw in there. It was a big rush of energy, and I just got it down."
Asked the name of the throw, Martin confessed he didn’t even know. Luckily, his coach was more than willing to elaborate.
"It's a chin whip, and they are nice," McLaughlin said. "I've got to be honest, in all my years I haven't seen many chin whips that went that quick and that flat. He didn't hesitate, and he didn't think about it. He was just like, 'I'm chin whipping, and it's going to happen.'"
The great escape
One year ago, Craig’s Will Brand defeated Isaac Lontz in the finals of the Bill Weiss tournament. Lontz was all too willing to return the favor Saturday, but with 30 seconds left, the senior’s prospects weren’t looking good.
In fact, Lontz couldn’t see them, or anything else, because he was on his stomach with his headgear covering his eyes. The score was tied, 3-3, and Brand had Lontz spread out on bottom.
"I looked up at the clock," Lontz recalled. "I heard Coach yelling the time's out. I thought, 'I can either stand up and win, or I can stay down here and lose.'
"I stood up."
It wasn’t easy. First, Lontz had to find his base, and get to his knees. Then, he got to his feet. Then, with the crowd and his coach urging him on, Lontz broke away from Brand’s hands, earning the escape point to go up 4-3 with 10 seconds left.
Lontz fended off Brand in the waning moments, and won the Bill Weiss tournament for the first time.
"That kid just fights," said McLaughlin of Lontz. "There were probably three times in that match where he could have given up a point that would have lost the match. The same goes for (Brand). You wrestle that match 10 times, you might get 10 different results."
The Kings’ next competition comes in two weeks at the North/South Tournament in Soldotna. For Kayhi’s champions — as well as placewinners such as Kohl Hallmann, Logan Collins and Ben Kacenas — the Bill Weiss tournament is just the beginning.
"This is a nasty, tough sport," McLaughlin said. "I just pour Kool-Aid. These guys got to drink it. They've got to work hard, and do the job.
"These guys aren't freaks. This is hard work."
Around the mat
While Kayhi was the top team Saturday, there were plenty of other noteworthy performances from wrestlers of the other 16 programs.
Craig’s Tanner Thain can add another Bill Weiss title to his resume, which already contained two Bill Weiss championships and a pair of state titles. The 126-pounder pinned his way to the finals, and stuck Thorne Bay’s Tell Tripple in 20 seconds to win the bracket. Thain is 26-0 this year.
Sitka tied the Kings for most champions with four. Jaren Sumuang, John Davis, Mitchell Boord and Elliott Anderson each took home titles for the Wolves.
Thorne Bay’s Anthony Minnillo lived up to the title of No. 1 in small schools at 160 pounds. Minnillo, 27-1 on the year, did not give up a single point all tournament, and beat Jimmy Thomsen of Haines, 4-0, in the finals.
Metlakatla’s Tristan Alexander pinned Josh Stearns of Haines in 1:31 to win the title at 220 pounds.
Bill Weiss Invitational tournament results
1) Ketchikan, 209 points; 2) Wrangell, 116; 3) Mt. Edgecumbe, 115; 4) Craig, 100; 5) Sitka, 89.5; 6) Thorne Bay, 69.5; 7) Haines, 55; 8) Juneau-Douglas, 52; 9) Metlakatla, 41; 10) Petersburg, 36.5; 11) Kake, 35; 12) Hoonah, 17; 13) Hydaburg, 13; 14) Thunder Mountain, 11; 15) Yakutat, 9; 16) Gustavus, 0; 16) Klawock, 0.
Top-four wrestlers per weight
1) DJ Toyomura, PBG; 2) Trevor Wutzke, KTN; 3) Seth Packer, CRG; 4) Curtis Wimberley, WRG.
1) Marcus Martin, KTN; 2) Moses Jackson, Mt. Edgecumbe; 3) William Moore, Kake; 4) Maize Nelson, Metlakatla.
1) Kadin Hallstrom, KTN; 2) Alex Cano, WRG; 3) Noah Castle, CRG; 4) Trevor Creed, MTE.
1) David Dumesnil, Juneau-Douglas; 2) Extry Collins, CRG; 3) Ben Kacenas, KTN; 4) Josh Danoa, KTN.
1) Tanner Thain, CRG; 2) Tell Tripple, Thorne Bay; 3) Kris Thornsteinson, PBG; 4) Napolean Media, KTN.
1) Isaac Lontz, KTN; 2) Will Brand, CRG; 3) Hunter Fitch, CRG; 4) Roger Miller, WRG.
1)?Jaren Sumuang, Sitka; 2) Kurt Dingwall, WRG; 3) Logan Collins, KTN; 4) Mitchell Reeves, CRG.
1) John Davis, SIT; 2) Tanner Thomassen, WRG; 3) Franklin Hoogendorn, MET; 4) Joe Chadwell, KTN.
1) Dalton Spear, KTN; 2) Angelo Lerma, KAK; 3) Luther Jenson, TB; 4) Vance Gregory, MTE.
1) Anthony Minnillo, TB; 2) Jimmy Thomsen, Haines; 3) Craig DeBoer, KTN; 4) Davon Wake, KTN.
1) Mitchell Boord, SIT; 2) Nate Fousel, KTN; 3) Devon Miller, WRG; 4) Robert Williams, KTN.
1) Jeffrey Rooney Jr., WRG; 2) Kohl Hallmann, KTN; 3) Sam Sergie, CRG; 4) Casey Menadelook, MTE.
1) Elliott Anderson, SIT; 2) Christophe Journey, MTE; 3) Jerry Hudson, JD; 4) Jalen Vantrease, KAK.
1) Tristan Alexander, MET; 2) Josh Stearns, HNS; 3) Caleb Ford, KTN; 4) Tulensa Timothy, JD.
1) Gusty Akelkok, MTE; 2) Cody Ring, KTN; 3) Marty Vera, MET; 4) Chatham Conner, SIT.