For the second year in a row, the Bethel Wrestlers brought home the gold. Senior Thomas Dyment capped off his last year in a big way, becoming Bethel Regional High School’s first ever four-time State Champion when he beat Maxim Kusnetsov from Voznesenka High School.
“I haven't wrestled this kid before and I got it," Dyment said. "And in the first period. Fricken' awesome! State finals; I’m excited.”
Dyment isn’t the biggest wrestler on the team, but that did not stop him from having a 34 and 0 record this year in the 130-pound weight class. He was a freshman when he won his first state championship in the 98-pound weight class, and he did the same the following year. Weighing a little more his junior year, he won the state championship in the 106-pound weight class. Dyment’s high school record is impressive: 127 wins and only seven losses. For that accomplishment he was voted the Division II Outstanding Wrestler of the year.
It was not as good of a day for Jarius Allain. The 106-pounder narrowly missed being a State Champion, losing in the finals to Deven Perez from Eielson High School. The heartbreak was clear on Allain’s face as coaches and friends consoled the senior after his last match. Ever a champion, he put his best face forward and stated how he would progress: "just work on my defense a little and get a little more work in on offense,” Allain said.
Mian Alexie-Leonard, at 152-pounds, won his first State Championship. He turned the tables on James Heppe from Klawock High School, a wrestler who has beaten him in the past.
“Yeah, he beat me at ACS [Anchorage Christian Schools] finals," Alexie-Leonard said. "Tried to get a game plan in where you’re fast on your feet. Gave up a couple of points fighting on bottom. I feel great. I got him this time.”
In the 145-pound weight class Hayden Lieb, son of coach Darren Lieb, won his second consecutive State Championship, defeating Jonas Heepe from Klawock in what was an epic day for the Bethel Warriors.
“I was like, 'Just go out there and kind of roll with him.' When I was rolling, I looked at my dad. He said, 'Pin him,' and it was time to pin him, so I went out there and pinned him,” said Lieb.
Bethel’s Darren Lieb and Paul O’Brien were voted Head Coach and Assistant Coach of the Year. Lieb, at the end of the day, took stock.
“I can’t be more proud of them: the way they competed, the way they wrestled. It was such an emotional day," Coach Lieb said. "It was a hardworking day for everyone.”
Possibly the most dramatic story on Saturday was how, despite overwhelming odds, the Bethel Warriors, with only four wrestlers in the final championship round, faced off against Homer’s Mariners with seven contenders in the final and a 40-point lead; Bethel managed to accrue enough team points to win the Division II Team Championship.