Wolves pin 8 first-place wins at Wrangell regionals

Wrangell's wrestlers secured more first-place wins during regional championships than any other high school at the meet.

Athletes from Mt. Edgecumbe, Craig, Petersburg, Sitka, Haines, Thorne Bay, Ketchikan and Juneau's Thunder Mountain came to Wrangell to compete in the Southeast regional championships last Friday and Saturday.

In the girls division, two-time state champion senior Liana Carney bested Ruby McCue of Ketchikan in the 135-pound weight class. Carney pinned her opponent in 30 seconds to win first place in the finals.

Sophomore Mia Wiederspohn pinned Chloe Vasquez of Thorne Bay in 15 seconds to win first place in the 145-pound weight class.

Wrangell's boys compete in Division II, pitting them against Craig, Haines, Mt. Edgecumbe, Petersburg and Sitka. Ketchikan and Thunder Mountain are in Division I. The boys competition in Alaska is split into two divisions, based on school size.

It was Lucas Schneider's first time at a regional championship. The freshman didn't have any competitors in the 112-pound weight class, though he did pin Hayden Jimenez (103 pounds), of Haines, in the second round of an exhibition match. Schneider had a guaranteed first place in his weight class and will be joining other teammates at the state championships this weekend.

Junior Randy Churchill pinned Rogan Hanson of Craig after 3:18. He won first place for the 152-pound weight class. Teammate Ryan Rooney won first in the 160-pound weight class, pinning Sitka's Jason Young in 1:49. Fellow junior Ethan Blatchley won first place in the 171-pound class, pinning Aiden Ojala of Sitka in 3:10.

Senior Rowen Weiderspohn pined Kael Osborne of Mt. Edgecumbe in 1:26 to win first place in the 189-pound class. And senior Jake Eastaugh pinned Petersburg's Kyle Biggers in 5:50 to win first place in the 215-pound class.

Rooney and Carney were voted by the coaches as Outstanding Wrestlers, the third time for each athlete for their divisions. The competition also produced the most individual regional titles the Wrangell team has ever won.

"We're proud of all these kids," said Jack Carney, assistant coach for the Wrangell squad. "We have kids who want to wrestle the tough matches. They want to wrestle the ones they lose to, not just the ones they beat."

Some of those matches were tougher than most, as junior Steven Bales was injured on the first day in his match against Frank St. Denis of Mt. Edgecumbe, taking him out of play for the rest of regionals.

Freshman Della Churchill took on Laney Green of Mt. Edgecumbe in the finals, eventually falling to her opponent and landing in second place in the 112-pound weight class. Churchill's teammate senior Jamie Early also ended up second in the 130-pound weight class after falling to Hayley Gilson of Ketchikan.

Freshman Daniel Harrison looked forward to competing against long-time rival Jason Young, but fell to the one-time No. 1-ranked junior, earning Harrison third place in the finals.

Though competition was fierce throughout the weekend, the sportsmanship and bond between teams was evident and positive.

"We got some fire. People are showing up," said James Valentine, Petersburg's head coach. "Even if they're losses, they're better losses than I've seen all year. Wrangell is so tough, and they always have been. They've always brought it to us. However, there isn't animosity because we're doing the same to them, but at the end of the day, it's Southeast first."

State championships are scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Anchorage.


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