Lady Warriors take second place at annual Bethel Wrestling Invitational
Three wrestling mats covered the basketball hardwood floors in Bethel’s gymnasium. The air was filled with a stale, soupy mixture of sweat, musk, and concession stand food. Parents and student athletes ranging from fourth to 12th grade spilled from the surrounding bleachers and onto the edge of the mats to cheer on their favorite grapplers. Darren Lieb is Bethel’s Varsity Wrestling Coach and tournament organizer.
“This weekend has been amazing. We had almost 400 wrestlers compete in grades four through 12. And so it's been a good, tough tournament,” Lieb said.
Lieb is in his 25th year of coaching and he’s excited about the season. “Our wrestling team, we're still learning, we're still growing. We're a young, pretty inexperienced team and we're still trying to find ourselves, both boys and girls.”
The Lady Warriors were poised to win several medals heading into the final round on Nov 12.
“They understand the success that they want, they know what they have to do, and they're resilient and hardworking. That shows that we have six, we have five girls in the medal match out of the nine that we started with in the tournament, and so that's a testament of hard work paying off,” Lieb said.
Overall, the Lady Warriors as a team placed second while the boys team earned fourth place.
Individually, in the 100-pound girls division, junior Emilie Madson pinned teammate Constance Albert for first place. She enjoys wrestling’s technical aspect.
“I want to try new moves and new things that I haven't tried on people before and practice a lot of new techniques,” Madson said.
In the 126-pound girls division, Hannah Howell, also a junior, placed third. She’s been wrestling since she was a kid.
“I enjoy wrestling for the thrill of it. And just now, I'm having the time of my life. My thoughts on this tournament is that everybody really improved, and everyone's just getting so much better every single day,” Howell said.
Isabel Lieb has been wrestling since she was five. She received one of the four Outstanding Wrestler Awards given out this past weekend. The 138-pound junior pinned a Valdez wrestler in 39 seconds to place first in her weight class.
“My goal for the season is the state title. I've been working as hard as I can this season and during the summer to get that state title,” Lieb said.
In the girls 145-pound division, Payton Boney placed second.
Zellia Avalos is the 152-pound wrestler. The 11th grader is in her sixth year of wrestling. She pinned her opponent from Scammon Bay in just 22 seconds. Although she was excited for her win, she still thinks that she could do better.
“I will give it my all and keep trying, looking for things that I need to improve on and work on it. And also with my teammates too,” Avalos said.
On the boys side, Paul Dyment, the 130-pound junior, is another Warrior to watch out for. He’s been a wrestler since he was six years old. He pinned South Anchorage’s Eli Armstrong in just over a minute. Last season’s state champion is looking to repeat.
“I feel really confident going forward this season. And hopefully getting that state title,” Dyment said.
The state championships are scheduled for Dec. 16 and 17 at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.