Falcons Grapplers host tournament this weekend

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A wrestler from Ketchikan and Thunder Mountain takes on last year’s Brandon Pilot Invitational at TMHS – 87 wrestlers will face off Friday and Saturday at this year’s event. (Klas Stolpe)

Juneau, Alaska (KINY) – The Thunder Mountain High School wrestling team, a mix of TMHS athletes and Juneau-Douglas Yadaa.at Kale, are hosting the Brandon Pilot Invitational Wrestling Tournament this weekend at TMHS Gymnasium, their last regular season competition before the Region V Championships.

“We’ve had a few little tournaments in the Southeast, but it’s nice to finally be able to show off all of our hard work at home,” said Falcons head coach Adam Messmer. “There are a lot of freshmen on this team and a lot of parents who haven’t had the chance to watch their kids wrestle all year. I know the kids are excited to wrestle at home and show family and friends what they’ve been working on.

Teams from Haines, Ketchikan, Mt. Edgecumbe, Petersburg, Sitka and Wrangell are expected and 87 wrestlers are scheduled to compete. The tournament is a preview of the Region V tournament scheduled for Wrangell on December 10-11, in which the Falcons grapplers will need to qualify for opponents Ketchikan.

“It’s going to happen faster than we think for sure,” Messmer said of the regions and the competition against Ketchikan. “Everyone’s sort of at the weight they’re going to be for Ketchikan. There are going to be some close matches that will decide who wins the regional tournament. It’s going to be tight. My assistant coaches and I sat down and traced in pencil and it’s going to be tight. “

For this weekend, Messmer said the conditioning has been taken care of.

“At the start of the season, we kind of struggled between having fun and working hard,” he said. “At the start of the season you really have to put in the effort and focus. There isn’t much time to have fun and play. And now that they’re pretty well conditioned and everyone kind of knows their role and what they’re doing, we’ve got some pretty intense workouts that allow for a bit more fun and games at the end of it. These guys really came together as a team. They don’t let it go, but they also have a lot of fun together. It has been a pleasure to train them this year.

The Brandon Drivers Invitational Tournament begins at 5:15 p.m. on Friday (December 2) and continues at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. There will be a lunch break on Saturday and the action will resume at 1 p.m. The Falcons’ senior night and tournament finals begin at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. TMHS Seniors Blaze Darbonne, Kadin Messmer, Kaleb Paddock and Thomas Jim will be honored.

Spectators will be authorized at this time and must be masked at all times, which will apply. Wrestlers will not wrestle with masks but must put them on at the end of all matches and in the building.

The tournament is named in honor of Brandon Pilot, who was a freshman on the JDHS Crimson Bears 2000 wrestling team when he died in a car crash on Fish Creek Road on November 18. A week later, the wrestling team continued with the planned Thanksgiving. Classic wrestling meeting, dedicated to the memory of Pilot and winning the team title. The following year, the tournament was renamed in his honor. Pilot was a distinguished club wrestler and competed in national tournaments. He was a versatile athlete, from baseball to football to wrestling.


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