Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Floyd Dryden Middle School wrestling team dominated their Southeast competition at Ketchikan over the weekend, winning eight individual titles and the team title at the Schoenbar Championships at Schoenbar Middle School. The tournament is considered the Southeast championships.
“To be honest with you, Wrangell had such a tough team this year,” Floyd Dryden head coach Ken Brown said. “Wrangell was really good and the key moment was probably in the finals when we stuck 12 kids in the finals and eight of them came out on top. That’s how we did it.”
Competing team point totals were FDMS 309.5, Wrangell 307, Craig 197, Schoenbar 142, Petersburg 124, Sitka 68, Haines 42 and Naukati 41.
FDMS eighth grader Eli Harvey was chosen the tournament’s outstanding wrestler by officials and coaches. Harvey claimed the 115-pound title.
“He did a really great job,” Brown said.
Other first place titles went to sixth graders Carson Kactz at 75 pounds, pinning Wrangell’s Amira Roher, and Caleb Aube at 100 pounds with an 18-6 major decision over Craig’s Conner Heidey; seventh graders Camden Messmer at 95 pounds, pinning Craig’s Jack Conaster, and Isaiah Galletes-Fale at heavyweight pinning teammate Liam Fenumiai; and eighth graders Gunnar Niere at 105 pounds, pinning Wrangell’s Boomchain Loucks, Toby East at 148 pounds, pinning Craig’s Abby Patten, and Noah Ault at 121 pounds pinning Wrangell’s Jackson Powers. Ault bumped up to 121 from 115 pounds.
“He just dominated and did a really great job for us because we needed those points,” Brown said. “And Toby East, I didn’t think he was going to take first and he just stepped up, I’m so proud of him. And Camden (Messmer), I don’t think anybody scored a point on him, he destroyed everybody he came across.”
This is the third Southeast title in a row for the Eagles.
“Usually we win the title in the wrestle-backs,” Brown said. “Getting lots of third and fourth places. But this year being so thin it really had to come down to winning first place and the kids that stepped into the finals really stepped up and they got us lots of pins, which gets us bonus points.”
Brown noted that every member of the team was important.
“Every single kid scored a point in this tournament,” he said. “It was pretty awesome.”
Second place finishes went to sixth graders Tristen Malacas at 210 pounds and Fenumiai at heavyweight, eighth grader Matthew Epperly at 110 pounds, and eighth grade girls team member Alba Muir at 190 pounds.
“The kids just did a wonderful job coming through for us,” Brown said. “It was awesome. We won by 2.5 points. It was so close.”
Third place finishes went to seventh grade girls team members Caelih Willet at 115 pounds and Charlie Jackson at 121 pounds.
Fourth place finishes went to seventh graders Ivan Shockley at 148 pounds and Easton Burger at 160 pounds.
Fifth place finishes went to seventh graders Marcus Woods at 85 pounds and Sonny Mazon at 105 pounds.
“They are just good kids,” Brown said of the Eagles. “I’ve always had nice kids, good kids, and I’ve had students from all walks of life, but these kids, all they want to do is have fun and wrestle. And they live by my motto, ‘I don’t care if I win or lose as long as I give it my best effort.’ Every time they stepped out there they gave their best effort and if they didn’t, they knew right away and they would let you know. I don’t have to tell they they could do better. They would be like, ‘Coach, that wasn’t my best effort.’ And the next time out they would go at it. I think a lot of that comes from the leadership of the upperclassmen.”
Brown noted eighth graders Noah Ault and Eli Harvey as positive examples on the team.
“I’ve never seen Noah step down from a challenge,” Brown said. “Noah takes a challenge head-on with a smile and goes 100 miles an hour through it… and Eli is not much of a talker but does a really good job of leading by example, he works hard and goes out there and does his thing. It’s just the kids.”
The Eagles assistant coaches are James White and Joardan Savaland. Other Floyd Dryden wresters were seventh graders Issac Hill (105-pounds) and Jake Chambers, sixth grader Judah Marr (210), and fifth graders Jack Peque (75), Landon Hill (85), Parker Katasse (90) and Mathew Shockley (100).
Members of the Floyd Dryden team will combine with members of Juneau’s Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School and compete at the Tanana State Tournament at Tanana Middle School in Fairbanks this weekend. The team will participate under USA Wrestling member Juneau Youth Wrestling Club as Tornados Wrestling.
FDMS eighth grader Gunnar Niere has been wrestling for five years.
"I love hanging out with the team," Niere said. "And I love winning, of course, getting first is really fun. I'm going to try my best at state and hopefully win a match. I went up to state a few years ago and didn't win a match but now I am pretty confident
Niere said his favorite move is the head-and-arm
"It's really easy to do," he said. "But it's really easy to defend also. I like just throwing them on the mat and watching them trying to get out."
Niere said there have been many times when opponents have escaped his move and thrown him on the mat.
"But of course I learned from it," Niere said. "To get good at wrestling you don't want to get pinned and you have to practice a lot. Even time you lose you have to learn from your mistakes. You have to adapt.
FDHS seventh grader Camden Messmer has been wrestling for eight years.
"I like having fun with my friends and winning," Messmer said. "I'm going to have fun at state and try to win first."
Messmer's favorite wrestling move is the cradle.
"It's just fun to do I guess," he said.
Messmer said wrestling, "Is all about losing and learning how not to get pinned.
Heading to state to compete are eighth graders Marlin Cox (DZ, 105), Gunnar Niere (FD, 105), Eli Harvey (FD, 114), Noah Ault (FD, 114), Landry Dillingham (DZ, 122), Damien Marvin (DZ, 140), Toby East (FD, 148), John Polasky (DZ, 132), Kallum Arndt (DZ, 160) and Kyle Carter (DZ, HvyW); seventh graders Camden Messmer (FD, 91), Landyn Dunn (DZ, 91), Jed Davis (DZ, 98), Hunter Carte (FD, 98), Ethan Vankirk (DZ, 126), Ivan Shockley (FD, 148), and girls team member Nixie Schooler (DZ, 97); and sixth graders Carson Kactz (FD, 70) and Caleb Aube (FD, 98).
“We will definitely make some noise because we are bringing some definite talent,” Brown said.
Above - Floyd Dryden Middle School seventh grader Caelih Willet pins Wrangell Middle School's Silje Morse in the Schoenbar Championships at Schoenbar Middle School on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022. (Dustin Safranek/Ketchikan Daily News). Below - The Floyd Dryden Middle School wrestling team pose with their Southeast Championship trophy from the Schoenbar Championships at Schoenbar Middle School on Saturday, Feb. 19. (Photo courtesy FDMS).