Raiders finish 8th at state wrestling tournament
ANCHORAGE — Dustin Ruckman wrestled his way to a bronze medal on Saturday and helped carry the Unalaska Raiders to an 8th-place finish at the 2017 ASAA/First National Bank Division II State Wrestling Tournament.
The Raiders were among more than 50 teams from across the state participating in the meet, which was held Dec. 15-16 at the Alaska Airlines Center.
As a team, the Raiders rolled up 71 points. Bethel Regional High School won its second state team wrestling championship with 207 points. Homer finished second at 196.
Ruckman and teammate Seth Henning highlighted Unalaska's efforts at the tournament. Ruckman placed third in the 132-pound classification, while Henning wrestled his way to fourth in the 195-pound standings.
Ruckman rebounded from a first-round loss to Homer's Ian Stovall in grand fashion. After dropping an 11-9 setback to Stovall, he reeled off four straight wins en route to gaining a spot in the third-place match against Nome's Eden Cross. Ruckman cemented the third-place honors by grinding out a 7-1 victory over Cross.
Henning narrowly missed becoming the Raiders' second medalist. He went 3-2 in the tournament, with his second loss coming to Craig's Kayden Bird in the third-place match.
Talon Shaishnikoff and Matthew Faoasau also turned in outstanding performances for Unalaska. A senior, Shaishnikoff placed fifth in the 192-pound standings. He finished off a 3-2 outing by defeating Dillingham's Sam Jenkins by a 10-6 margin in the fifth-place contest.
Faoasau finished sixth in the 185-pound bracket. After battling his way to the fifth-place match, he suffered a 6-1 loss to Bethel's Ryan Smith and settled for sixth overall.
Unalaska also garnered solid showings from several other grapplers over the weekend, including Blaine Henning and John Esnardo.
Henning capped his season by going 2-2 in the 120-pound division. Esnardo was 2-2 in the 126-pound class.
Alex Esnardo Jr., Chris Garcia, Quinnton Parker, Johnny Khongsuk and Curtis Jeppesen also notched wins for the Raiders.
Also competing in the tournament for Unalaska was Landen Shaishnikoff, who went 0-2 in the 145-pound division.