Falcons Wrestle to Top State Tournament Placings

    Thunder Mountain junior wrestler Carson Cummins is shown winning his semifinal match at the ASAA state wrestling championships. (photo courtesy TMHS)

      Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Thunder Mountain High School wrestling team left their hearts on the state mats over the weekend with three grapplers placing on the podium and the Falcons taking ninth in team scoring.

      “I think we did alright,” head coach Adam Messmer said. “We were up against some kids that had twice as many matches on the season as we did. And we had a lot of guys drawn in to just out of the No. 1 seed. We had a lot of guys win a match and then they were going against the No. 1 seed their next match. Those were tough matches.”

      Falcons junior Carson Cummins earned a finals match against East Anchorage’s undefeated senior Elyle Fransisco.

      Cummins was taken down halfway through the first period and pinned with one second left.

      Cummins opened the tourney with a pin of Kodiak’s Ram Caballa, pinned South’s Israel Valadez in the quarters and won 7-5 over Colony’s Asher Clayton in the semifinals.

      “Carson has been getting better every year,” Messmer said. “That kid beat him by a point at Lancer (Smith Tournament in Anchorage) this year and then Carson beat him in overtime to get into the finals. That kid in the finals was just an animal, he was a little bit more pumped up and wanted it a little bit more. He kind of caught Carson in a bad situation pretty quick. Carson is a very technical wrestler. He’s a smaller kid so a lot of his partners in practice were freshmen and he taught them a wealth of knowledge. There were freshmen in practice hitting moves that I wouldn’t expect freshmen to do and that’s all because Carson is in there rolling around with them and explaining it as they go through it.”

      Falcons senior Kadin Messmer (7-7) placed third at 125 pounds, earning a 7-2 decision over Palmer sophomore Cody Vansiegman (31-13). 

      Messmer, a state placer last season, was not seeded in the tournament as he was injured most of the season.

      Messmer opened with a pin over North Pole’s Kolten Roedel, then lost to eventual state champion Matthew Mitchell of Colony. In the consolation rounds, Messmer pinned South’s Spencer Maxon and Lathrop’s Zak Lomax, and major decisioned Soldotna’s Ezekiel Miller to make the third place match.

      “I had three hard kids right away,” Kadin Messmer said. 

      Soldotna’s Miller was a familiar opponent.

      “I’ve wrestled him in middle school and stuff and club matches and he has always beat me,” Kadin Messmer said. “I ended up wrestling that match pretty smart and came out with the win. That match moved me to the third place match and I feel like I wrestled that match pretty smart, too. I’m a little bummed I couldn’t be in the finals but third place is always good and it feels good to end off my high school career with a win as my last match.”

      Kadin Messer only had a week to train for the regional tournament due to suffering a broken leg during the football season in the Juneau Huskies last home game. He played in the state championship game with what was believed to be a pulled muscle. His rehabilitation included weight room sessions and battle ropes and he pushed himself to his first two matches, which were in the region tournament which he won.

      He then had only a week after regions to prepare for state, making third place at state a remarkable achievement. Kadin Messmer described his third place match.

      “He’s pretty strong,” Kadin Messmer said. “The last two times we wrestled was in middle school free style, which throws are worth a lot more points. Those two matches I was winning and he ended up winning by throwing me in the third period because I made a simple mistake. This time I was winning in the third round by three points and ended up catching him off guard and throwing him. It was a big difference in the match.”

      Kadin Messmer thanked the coaches in his career, including Jesse Cruise, Sam Carney, Josh Houston, his father Adam, Gideon Monet and Dan Ondrejka, among others. He commented on leaving the Falcons team in good hands.

      “Sage (Richards) has come a long way,” Kadin Messmer said. “After middle school he just started walking through kids and Carson (Cummins) is one of the smartest wrestlers I’ve ever got to know. He knows every wrestler in Alaska and what they do. It’s a shame he got pinned in the finals. He can do better. I’ve known them for a long time and couldn’t be prouder of them.”

      Coach Messmer commented on his son’s return to the mat.

      “When he got into the room the last week or so the team saw him pushing himself,” he said. “He was wrestling a full minute with one guy and then going into another minute with a fresh guy and I think that opened the eyes of the other guys in the room as to what it takes to get to that high level."

      Falcons junior Sage Richards placed fourth at 189 pounds, losing by fall at 4:34 in the third place match to North Pole junior Daniel Conley.

      “He was really strong and he’s a good wrestler,” Richards said. “It was fun to wrestle him. But, you know, I didn’t win, I didn’t come out on top. Sometimes that happens. It’s still a fun sport and I enjoy it.”

      Richards was seeded with a bye to open the tourney, pinned Colony’s Gabriel Beaudoin in the quarters and lost by pin to South’s James Shivers in the semifinals. In the consolations, Richards pinned Palmer’s Lucas Frank to earn the third place match.

      Richards took fifth place last season. This year he joined the team after the football season finished in their state championship game and was considered an inspiration in the wrestling room to the younger grapplers.

      “I think I just started late in the season,” Richards said. “I needed to work harder in practice. I don’t have any excuses or anything, what happened, happened, I don’t feel bad because I left it all out there on the mat. I feel like there was nothing more I could have done to win those matches. Now I just need to work out a lot in the off season, do some club wrestling and prepare for next year's football and wrestling seasons.”

      Coach Messmer commented on Richards.

      “He is definitely moving up,” he said. “Getting better by the match. The kid he lost to for third place he had never wrestled before and that kid was head and shoulders the strongest kid at the tournament in his division. And to get into that consolation Sage wrestled the No. 1 seed and had him on his back twice. They both came out with a ball of fire, it was just a tough match. Sage’s work ethic is really up there. After placing fifth last year he came into this year with a goal to take state. Unless a kid has been up here and had a taste of success or seen teammates have some success, seeing what that actually means  and the dedication it takes to get to that high level, it is hard to tell a kid what it is. Sage’s work ethic was above and beyond most in the room.”

      TMHS placed ninth in the team scoring, one placing over Region V champion Ketchikan.

      “We were very celebratory about that,” Coach Messmer said. “After getting beat in regions by them and to come up here with the number of kids we had and only having two kids seeded to their seven, it definitely perked up the team a bit.”

      Colony won the team title with 248.5 points, South scored 236, Lathrop 223.5, Soldotna 208, Palmer 147, Wasilla 128.5, East 120.5, Service 87, TMHS 70, Ketchikan 66, Chugiak 64, North Pole 46, West Valley 45.5, West 40, Dimond 30.5, Eagle River 29, Student Wrestling Development Program 9, Bartlett 6 and Kodiak 0.

      Other Falcons action included 135-pound sophomore Chase Darbonne, who went 1-2, including an opening loss to the eventual state champion; 140-pound freshman Justus Darbonne went 1-2, including a quarterfinal loss to the eventual state champion; 152-pound Jarrell Williams went 2-2, including a quarterfinal loss to the eventual state champion; 103-pound freshman Colton Cummins was 0-2, including an opening loss to the eventual state champion; and 119-pound freshman Owen Woodruff was 0-2 and 130-pound freshman Justin Geary 0-2.

      “I don’t know what our luck is about getting drawn into state contenders,” coach Messmer said. “If we have a kid that is not seeded they will be drawn in against the state champ. They all wrestled hard.”

      After the tournament the coaches gathered the team together.

      “I told them I was proud of all of them,” Messmer said. “They all have been sweating and bleeding on the mat for months to get to this point. This was the big show and they all left it on the line. I couldn’t have asked anything more out of any one of them. Me and my assistant coaches, I can’t speak any higher about them, DanO and Gideon Monet, we work well as a team and I couldn’t do it without those guys. There are a lot of logistics with being the head coach and those guys are right there covering the mat when I am having to run around and do administrative stuff. We are already looking toward next year.”

    Above - TMHS junior Sage Richards is shown after winning his 189-pound quarterfinal match against Colony's Gabriel Beaudoin at the ASAA State Wrestling Championships in Anchorage. Below - Falcons senior Kadin Messmer is shown throwing his opponent at the ASAA state wrestling tournament. (photos courtesy TMHS)


    103 - Palmer so. Kale Salisbury (30-3) by D 7-4 over Soldotna fr. Jacob Strausbaugh (27-6).

    112 - East jr. Elyle Fansisco (32-0) by Fall 1:59 over TMHS jr. Carson Cummins (23-2).

    119 - East sr. Benjamin Pople (39-2) by MD 10-1 over Colony sr. Elias Cordell (24-4).

    125 - Colony so. Matthew Mitchell (21-1) by D 6-5 over East so. Kenton Cooke (39-4).

    130 - South jr. Dylan Shaw (38-0) by MD 10-2 over Wasilla sr. Tyler Foss (22-5).

    135 - South so. Aaron Concepcion (39-2) by UTB 2-1 over Colony sr. Carter Silva (27-1).

    140 - Lathrop sr. Colton Parduhn (44-0) by MD 12-4 over Ketchikan sr. Degan Linne (19-2).

    145 - Colony jr. Elijah Larsen (37-0) by MD 14-6 over Soldotna jr. Isaac Chavarria (24-5).

    152 -Palmer sr. Antonio Woodfork (33-0) by Fall 3:15 over Lathrop jr. Aaron Johnson (41-3).

    160 - South sr. Chad Hakala (47-3) by MD 11-3 over Lathrop jr. Jacob Johnson (40-7).

    171 - Soldotna sr. Wayne Mellon (21-0) by D 14-9 over Palmer sr. Preston Long (13-5).

    189 - Soldotna jr. Hunter Richardson (37-2) by D 7-1 over South jr. James Shivers (36-2).

    215 - Soldotna jr. Liam Babitt (36-0) by D 6-2 over West Valley jr. Peter Macchione (20-2).

    285 - Lathrop jr. Noah Curtis (38-0) by MD 16-5 over Colony sr. Daniel Van Slyke (21-2).

    DII TEAM - Bethel 158, Reddington 152, Glennallen 133.5, Delta 121, Dillingham 116.5, Wrangell 115, Nome 87.5, Grace Christian 84, Kenai 72.5, Barrow 70, Nikiski 70, Seward 53, Homer 44, Hutchinson 44, Valdez 42, Mt. Edgecumbe 41, Eielson 39, Shaktoolik 35, Sitka 35, Petersburg 33, Craig 25, Anchorage Christian 24, Houston 23, Haines 21, Savoonga 21, St. Mary’s 20, Napaskiak 16.5, Gambell 16, Quinhagak 14, Cordova 12.5.


    103 - Seward fr. Aiden Schilling (13-11) by Fall 0:52 over Reddington jr. Caleb Metcalf (13-7).

    112 - Reddington so. Myles Campbell (24-1) by MD 20-8 over Delta so. Oran Brown (25-9)

    119 - Bethel sr. Landon Smith (36-0) by Fall 3:08 over Valdez sr. Wyatt Williams (17-5).

    125 - Bethel so. Paul Dyment (26-11) by MD 11-2 over Delta so. Garrett Coen (27-5).

    130 - Bethel sr. Joseph Smith (26-2) by Fall 1:38 over Mt. Edgecumbe so. Tristan Goodell (7-2).

    135 - Dillingham sr. Cemetery Hoseth (19-2) by Fall 3:05 over Glennallen sr. Keegan Delaquito (23-9).

    140 - Glennallen sr. Jordan Korth (21-4) by D 7-2 over Dillingham fr. Ty Kolbe (16-5).

    145 - Dillingham sr. Zach Kolbe (18-5 by D 8-4 over Glennallen so. Bowen Korth (32-6).

    152 - Glennallen sr. Alex Buck by D 9-2 over Kenai jr. Andrew Gaethle (28-5).

    160 - Wrangell sr. Ryan Rooney (21-0) by Fall 5:25 over Reddington sr. Charles Severance (18-3).

    171 - Nikiski sr. Simon Grenier (25-5) by D 7-3 over Wrangell jr. Ethan Blatchley (22-4).

    189 - Hutchinson sr. Seth Briesmeister (12-1) by D 7-5 over Wrangell sr. Rowen Wiederspohn (8-2).

    215 - Delta sr. Stephen Hunt (18-5) by D 6-4 over ACS jr. Ryan Randall (22-8).

    285 - Barrow so. Uatahouse Tuifua (29-1) by D 9-3 over Barrow sr. Nicholas Liomaiava (19-7).

    GIRLS TEAM - Lathrop 164, Colony 98, North Pole 88, Bethel 79.5, Palmer 71, Soldotna 64, Wrangell 62, Redington 59, Nome 51, Ketchikan 47.5, Valdez 47, Hutchison 46, Service 46, East 45, Barro 37, West Valley 35, Chugiak 34, Newhalen 29, Kodiak 23, Kenai 22, Chevak 20, South 18, Bartlett 17, Dimond 15, Dillingham 13.5, Petersburg 12, Wasilla 12, Sitka 11, Mt. Edgecumbe 10, Homer 9.


    103 - Lathrop so. Megan Spencer (34-6) by D 13-8 over Lathrop jr. Kaylana Nations (24-5).

    112 - Lathrop sr. Autumn Poland (35-1) by D 8-6 over Kodiak sr. Olivia Troxell (19-1).

    119 - Palmer sr. Trinity Pendergrass (16-1) by Fall 5:30 over Lathrop sr. Kierstyn Bockert (26-2).

    125 - Nome jr. Natalie Tobuk (22-0) by Fall 4:45 over Service jr. Mckaylie Luedde (22-10).

    130 - Newhalen jr. Aileen Lester (14-2) by MD 10-0 over Ketchikan sr. Hayley Gilson (12-2).

    135 - Wrangell sr. Liana Carney (19-0) by Fall 1:23 over East sr. Maysa Brown (19-3).

    145 - Soldotna jr. Trinity Donovan (36-0) by Fall 1:31 over Lathrop so. Heaven Matheny (33-5).

    160 - North Pole jr. Emily Bellant (39-0) by Fall 1:33 over Hutchison so. Jaylynn Hernandez (17-9).

    189 - Redington sr. Twyla Anderstrom (20-1) by MD 10-1 over Valdez sr. Alyvia Askren-Weber (6-3).

    235 - West Valley jr. Alice Bent (20-2) by Fall 2:50 over Barrow so. Manusiu Muti (12-2).

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