TECHNICAL  MOVE – Nanook Ben Cross, top, downed team mate Tobin Hobbs in the championship match by a fall.

Nome hosts regional wrestling tournament

Wrestling fans got plenty of action on Friday and Saturday in the Nome-Beltz gym as wrestlers from around the region went to the mat to prove their strength, endurance and technique. Teams came from Elim, Gambell, Savoonga, Kotzebue, Bethel, Stebbins, Shishmaref and St. Michael to join the Nome Nanook squad for two days of wrestling.

A round-robin format, where each wrestler wrestles everyone in his or her weight category, was used Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Then the top four were seeded into brackets for the championship round.

Nanooks who finished on top include Paris Hebel, Caleb Evatt, Ben Cross, Owen Hebel, Starr Erikson, Ethan Hannon, Lucas Marvin, Darlin Awinona-Smith, and Hayden Leeper.

“I brought eight wrestlers,” said Gambell’s coach Ira Iworrigan. “Three high school, one elementary, and four junior high school.“ He liked the results the wrestlers returned to the island with. “Good results. We had two second place finishers, a first place finisher, one third. They didn’t give out awards for elementary but my elementary wrestler went undefeated.”

In addition to the Nome Invite Gambell will go to the Bush Brawl next weekend in Kotzebue as well as to regionals in Kotzebue in late November. “I’m taking the high school team down to ACS this year,” he said. “And then the junior high and elementary team will be heading down to Unalakleet in a couple of weeks.”

The Nugget asked how the wrestlers’ technique is shaping up at this point in the season. “Their technique is looking good, the conditioning can be a little better. But they’re still working hard,” Iworrigan said.

Coach Kellen Katcheak of Stebbins was pleased with the team’s two first places. Seventh grader Averon Katcheak won in the middle school 92 and 98 lbs by a fall over Nome’s Son Erikson. “My only girl took third in the 145 lb weight class,” he said. They brought six wrestlers and will be at the Bush Brawl next weekend. He said he was pleased with where they are at this point in the season. “Yeah, they’re doing pretty good with these big strong wrestlers.”

Derek Seppilu, coach of Savoonga, brought seven wrestlers to Nome, three in high school and four middle schoolers. “We did pretty good, especially for a couple that are first year here,” he said.  “This is one of three tournaments that we are able to go to. Next the Bush Brawl, then regionals in Kotzebue.”

Nanook wrestler Ben Cross wrestled six matches and took the championship at 145 lbs, winning by a fall over team mate JJ Marble. Cross had a good cross country season this year so the Nugget asked him if he thought that helped his endurance. He affirmed that it did. Asked about his technique at this point in the season he said it’s hard to tell. “I haven’t wrestled a whole lot at this point,” he said. “I had one good match-up last week. We’re going to Kotz next weekend and I’ll get a better feel for it.”

Dudley Homelvig, long-time Nanook coach now retired, would have liked to see more teams. “Galena has come in the past and they’re a real nice group to have here, great kids, good hard wrestlers,” he said. “Unalakleet’s not here. I don’t know if they have a program but they’ve been real good in the past. So we miss them. It’s good to see Savoonga kids here, though. We haven’t seen them for a while. But it would be nice if there were more kids here. We ended early last night and had long breaks today. We had a two hour break this afternoon, we could have been wrestling then.”

Next week the wrestlers are off to Kotzebue for the Bush Brawl.

To see the round-robin results and all championship results please visit  Fans can follow the Bush Brawl at

The Nome Nugget

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Nome, Alaska 99762

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