Bethel Warriors Win 2017 Great Alaska Conference Wrestling Championship

Dec 11, 2017

Bethel Regional High School senior Matthew Hunter hugs coach Darren Lieb after winning the 126 lb. boys bracket at the 2017 Great Alaska Conference Wrestling Championship on December 9, 2017.
Credit Patrick Williams / LKSD

Bethel Regional High School dominated the 2017 Great Alaska Conference Wrestling Championship this weekend. Across Friday and Saturday, 19 teams from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and Unalaska competed for a chance to wrestle at State. Bethel Regional High School correspondent Hunter Carter was there and joined KYUK after the conference.


KYUK: Hi Hunter. Thanks for being here. Tell me the high points.

Carter: For the overall scoring, Bethel Regional High School came in first place with 299 points, followed by Unalaska with 228 points. For the small school division, Napaskiak came in first place with 82 points and Quinhagak came in second place with 46 points. The highest overall team GPA was Unalaska with a 3.3 grade point average. Coach Darren Lieb for Bethel Regional High School also got the coach of the year for this region.

KYUK: And who were the conference’s Outstanding Wrestlers this year?

Carter: They were both from Bethel Regional High School. For the girls, it was senior Kelly O’Brien. She was the 145 lb. girls champion. She was interviewed by Bethel Regional High School student Fiola Dema, and here’s a clip from that:

  • Dema: So how did you feel during your match?
  • O’Brien: I felt pretty good. I’d beaten the girl a couple times before, so I was pretty confident.
  • Dema: What do you think is your biggest wrestling accomplishment?
  • O’Brien: Probably being a two-time state champion and now a four-time regional champion.
  • Deme: Great. Are you very excited to go to state?
  • O’Brien: Yes, I’m planning on beating Makenzie Cook. She beat me last year in the state finals and this year I really want to win it.

Bethel Regional High School senior Thomas Dyment was named Boys Outstanding Wrestler after winning the 113 lb. bracket at the 2017 Great Alaska Conference Wrestling Championship on December 9, 2017.
Credit Patrick Williams / LKSD

Carter: And for the boys' Outstanding Wrestler, it was senior Thomas Dyment. He was the 113 lb. champion. I interviewed him at the conference and here’s a clip from that:

  • Dyment: I’m now a four-time regional champion, which is very exciting and awesome.
  • Carter: What’s going to be your mindset going into State?
  • Dyment: Well, I’m going to have a clear mindset. I felt really prepared for the state tournament this year.

KYUK: This conference was huge. It was the regional championship; it decided who went onto State. Take me there. What was the feeling in the Bethel Regional High School gym this weekend?

Carter: When I first got there on Friday, before I even entered the gym, I heard this very loud hype music playing, so you could tell it was a very energetic atmosphere. When I got in there, I saw all these different wrestlers warming up with their teams, getting ready for their matches. And as I sat down with some of my friends in the bleachers, I looked around, and I saw all these different community members from different ages talking with each other and catching up, because there were a lot of villagers coming in to support their local teams. So there were a lot of people not only going there to watch wrestling, but also to catch up with people who they haven’t seen in a while.

Throughout the conference it was very positive. There was a lot of great sportsmanship from the teams and from the community members. The crowd was very supportive of not just their own wrestlers, but other wrestlers as well. And people would clap when some wrestlers won and when they also lost. There was great support from the crowd.

But from the wrestling teams, it was very interesting. At other tournaments I’ve been to, wrestling teams kind of stick with each other. But this one, they were actually going out and talking with wrestlers from different communities, and making friendships, and being very supportive of each other. As I’d be walking with some of the wrestlers from BRHS, they’d interrupt the conversation and tell a wrester they were going past, ‘Hey, good luck with your match. I hope you do well.’ It wouldn’t even be people they knew. They were just being supportive, and Bethel wrestlers showed that to everyone else. All these village schools in Alaska, they were very supportive of Bethel, and it was more of like this family environment when it came to wrestling. So it was really great to see all these wrestlers united as one region, but also competing for that region champ spot.

KYUK: Which matches stood out to you at this conference?

Carter: So the one match that comes to mind, and it’s been sticking with me ever since I watched it, was senior Matthew Hunter’s match from Bethel Regional High School. His championship match, it was very close. He was actually leading. However, it was still a nail-biting match.

Bethel Regional High School's Ryan Smith wins the 285 lb. bracket at the 2017 Great Alaska Conference Wrestling Championship on December 9, 2017.
Credit Patrick Williams / LKSD

The last 30 seconds of it, they were all locked up. We had no clue what was going to happen. We were all cheering for Matthew, and he came out victorious at the end of it. And the first thing that he did was he jumped up; he went straight to his coach; and he gave him a hug. And they were talking to each other, and I could just tell Coach Darren Lieb was very proud of him.

And the next thing he did was he went to his family members: his siblings, his mom, his grandma. He gave them all hugs. And every time he looked up, you could just tell he was proud of what he’d done. He’s made his community proud.

Me being his friend, I went up to him; I gave him a hug; and I just expressed how proud I was of him. And it was just a great feeling, seeing one of my friends I grew up with obtain one of his goals in life to become a regional champ, especially in his senior year. So that was a really great match to watch.

KYUK: And which weight class did he win?

Carter: He won the 126 lb. boys championship bracket.

KYUK: When will we see these wrestlers again?

Carter: The Bethel Regional High School wrestling team will be going to Anchorage to compete at the state conference. They leave Wednesday night, and they’re going to be competing Thursday through Saturday.

KYUK: Hunter Carter is a junior at Bethel Regional High School. Thank you so much for joining me.

Carter: Thank you.​