Whalers rush past Kotzebue in Northern Conference
Vakameilalo Tuifua, Ben Heather, Sione Tuifua, Calvin Miller and Bradley Brower all wrestled their way to first-place efforts this past weekend, and helped power the Barrow Whalers to the Northern Conference wrestling championship. The Whalers, who qualified 11 wrestlers for the upcoming state wrestling tournament, rolled up 185.5 points in the tournament, which was held in The Den at Nome-Beltz High School.
The Kotzebue Huskies, who will be sending a conference-best 12 wrestlers to Anchorage for the state meet, finished second in the team standings with 176 points. Nome-Beltz was third.
Vakameilalo Tuifia highlighted a solid outing by the Whalers in the heavyweight classification. Tuifua and Oneahi Talaiasi finished first and second, respectively, in the division.
The top two wrestlers in each weight classification earned berths in the state meet, which will be held on Dec. 14-15 in Anchorage.
Ben Heather and Sione Tuifua also walked away with impressive wins. Heather outwrestled Kotzebue's Andrew Bergan in the 220-pound standings. Tuifua, one of the top-rated wrestlers in the state, improved to 22-3 by winning the conference's 195-pound title. Kotzebue's Jack Hyatt was second.
Miller won the 152-pound conference crown by edging out Kotzebue's Mark Angelo Mangabat Salta by a 10-4 score in the first-place match.
Noatak's Robert Sheldon upset Salta in the 152-pound second-place matchup.
Brower won the 138-pound title.
Anthony Librado, Krystian Gandia and Amyaa Davis also earned trips to the state tournament. Librado finished second to Kotzebue's Michael Hatch in the 113-pound class, while Gandia was second in the 126-pound standings. Davis, now 17-9, finished second to Nome's Sierra Tucker in the girls' 145-pound division.
Jay Rick Nobleza and Sammy Keovilayhong narrowly missed trips to state. Nobleza finished third in the 132-pound division, while Keovilayhong was third in the 120-pound standings.
Kotzebue's Matthew De La Cruz won the boys' 132-pound championship. He outwrestled Nome's Eldon Cross in the first-place match.
The Huskies also collected conference championship honors from Ethan Roetman and Erik Mills-Bain. Roetman and teammate Billy Nelson finished 1-2 in the 170-pound division. Mills-Bain won the 182-pound title.
Jack Hyatt and Bergan also punched their tickets to state. They were second in their classifications.
Kotzebue also qualified five girls for the state tournament, including Tina Conwell and Carmella McCall. Conwell, who improved to 16-10 for the year, took first in the girls' 182-pound bracket.
McCall highlighted a 1-2 sweep of the top spots in the 120-pound division. Patricia McCall finished second.
Jessica McCall was second in the 106-pound standings, while teammate Kiersten Hunnicutt finished second to Selawik's Laura Ramoth in the 160-pound class.
Buckland's Jacquelyn Berlin turned plenty of heads as she garnered a spot at the state meet by winning the girls' 132-pound championship. She edged out Selawik's Trisha Mann in the title match.
Noatak's Kyleigha Wilson also advances by finishing second in the girls' 160-pound division.