The Nome-Beltz wrestling team had a unique learning opportunity this weekend at the Anchorage Christian Schools (ACS) tournament: They got to take on wrestlers from around Alaska they wouldn’t normally get to see.
Head coach Dudley Homelvig says it was something of a preview for the state wrestling competition next month.
“There were a lot of really impressive wrestlers wrestling in the finals — even before that.”
One example of the tough competition: The top six wrestlers in the 120-pound weight class this weekend were the exact same top six from the next-lowest weight class at state last year.
Homelvig says that can provide motivation, especially for newer wrestlers:
“It’s a real eye-opener for them to see, ‘Okay, this is where we’re at, and there’s where we want to get to eventually.’”
The Nanooks’ veterans led their team to a seventh-place girls’ finish, out of 27 schools; and a tenth-place finish for the boys’, out of 33 teams. Top performances included Starr Erikson, who took 2nd-place in the girls’ 113; and Ben Cross, who took fourth in the boys’ 145.
Homelvig says developing as a wrestler is like building a house. And at this point in the season, different athletes are at different stages:
“Our more experienced wrestlers are further along in that construction process, and our beginners are still working on that foundation, maybe starting to put up some walls.”
He says he’s happy with the progress so far, but there were mistakes made at ACS, of course. The team is focused on improving the things they can, he says:
“At this point in a season, there’s not a lot you can do about being stronger, for example, but you can still become better-conditioned, and you can still improve your technique and your decision-making skills when you’re out there.”
Coach Homelvig says he’s urged the sixth-graders to really commit to the techniques they’re learning. After they were “thumped” by their older teammates at the Nome Invite two weeks ago, he says he pulled them aside and told them:
“‘You guys can’t get discouraged. What it was an eye-opener for you that the stuff we teach works, and you can’t get by on just athletic ability.’ So that was actually good: The middle school’s really been focused here in the last couple weeks. And, of course, we’re planning on taking every healthy, eligible kid up to Kotzebue this week.”
At the Bush Brawl in Kotzebue next weekend, Nome will face the Huskies, whose girls’ and boys’ teams placed third and fourth at ACS. The Nanooks will also face other teams from around the region as they work to prepare for the Northern Conference Meet on December 2nd.
Image at top: Nome’s Starr Erikson takes on a Bethel wrestler at the 2017 Nome Wrestling Invite (photo: Janeen Sullivan, used with permission).