Ryne Sorenson came late to wrestling. He broke in last year as a junior, and learned the ropes by partnering with Ryder Torgeson, who would go on to take second in state that year at 160 pounds.

Torgeson returned the favor this year as a graduate, spending about three weeks on the mat training his old partner. Sorenson steadily improved, but never imagined that the winners’ podium would be a part of his future.

“It felt really good. I never thought at the beginning of the season I’d be standing up there.”

Sorenson’s season could not have better bookends. Both involved Bryan Carillo, a wrestler out of Cordova.

 “He was my first loss of the season at the ACS tournament up north. I was in the semi-finals, he was the number-two seed. He pinned me in a head-and-arm.”

Sorenson would meet Carillo again the finals of the state tournament in Nikiski, but the hours of training with Torgeson came in to play, along with the humbling pin at ACS.

“He tried the same move again in the finals at state. It didn’t work the second time.”

Sitka took fifth place overall in state, the highest finish in Coach John Hedden’s memory. Four other Sitka wrestlers all placed: Darin Davis was third at 103, Chris Clement was sixth at 119, Will Patrick placed second at 125, and Max Hanson sixth at 140. Hedden says Davis, a sophomore, was competitive with the state’s top wrestlers in his class this year, losing a close match in the semi-finals. Patrick went down in what Hedden calls a “technical” dual to his rival Jesse Rogers at Mt. Edgecumbe.

“And Will lost in double overtime with a match score of 2 – 1. Will scored one escape, and Jesse scored two escapes in the match.”

This was par for the course for Patrick and Rogers, who met several times over the course of the season. Rogers has no trouble pulling up the match scores.

 “I wrestled him once in the duals, once in Petersburg, once in Metlakatla, they were all 3-1, 3-1, and 9-3.”

The Mt. Edgecumbe senior won the state championship at 125 this year. Last season he took the title at 119. His brother, Matt Rogers, was the champion at 152. The twins stayed home last year in Dillingham and helped that team to a state championship in 2009. Back at Mt. Edgecumbe for their senior season, the Rogers brothers knew that they would be meeting hometown friends as opponents. A week before state, Matt did not seem too bothered by the idea.

 “I’ve gotten pretty used to it. It’s not too bad anymore.”

Matt Rogers ended up facing former Dillingham teammate Reed Tennyson in the finals. Rogers won, becoming only the second undefeated wrestler in Mt. Edgecumbe history. He was named the state tournament’s outstanding wrestler.

“We knew that they would do well, both Matthew and Jesse. Their work ethic is phenomenal,”  says Carl Blackhurst, co-athletic director at Mt. Edgecumbe.

 “They go to wrestling practice, and then when I’m in doing my basketball practice they’re both in there running laps and running stairs. They’re in there every morning working out. Those guys, they really deserve it. When you see a kid like that get on the podium, you feel good about it because they definitely earned it.”

Blackhurst has similar praise for Jaylin Prince, a Mt. Edgecumbe junior from Kotlik. Prince, in his second year of wrestling has taken his second heavyweight title. Prince is not particularly large, nowhere near the 285-pound heavyweight classification. Blackhurst says Prince fast, strong, and coachable. And a “pretty cool customer.”

“That’s what it takes at the state tournament. You need to be cool, calm, collected. He doesn’t try to do anything over the top. He just handles business.”

Because his state title last year at heavyweight was a surprise, Prince spent this season as the man to beat. As advertised, Prince didn’t mind the added pressure. “It’s not really a new place for me. It’s my second year going after the state title, and I believe I’ll do good if I work hard.”

The Rogers twins and Prince are the seveth, eighth, and ninth wrestling champions in Mt. Edgecumbe’s history. Prince is the first athlete to win the same title twice at the school.
© Copyright 1970, Raven Radio Foundation Inc.