Shungnak’s Spencer Woods was the only U.S. wrestler to advance to Sunday’s medal round at the Zagreb Open Greco Roman tournament in Croatia. Woods placed fifth in the 180-pound weight class after dropping a 7-2 decision in the bronze medal match against Peter Doemoek of Hungary. The Alaskan fell behind 7-0 after the first period before battling back in the second period. He advanced to the medal round after an 8-4 win over Finland’s Jonni Sarkkinen. Woods opened with a two-point throw out of bounds and later was able to turn Sarkkinen from a defensive position to run the score up to 7-0. Woods, a former two-time Alaska state champion for Kotzebue High, competed at the 2022 Senior World Championships and placed fourth at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials. He’s part of the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program, which allows top-ranked soldiers to perform at the international level while also serving their nation in the military.
At the McKendree University Bearcat Open in Illinois, Sitka’s Sydnee Kimber and Anchorage’s Shelby Ottum and Jayleen Sekona each earned a trip to the podium. Kimber, a McKendree senior at 191 and three-time defending national champion out of Mt. Edgecumbe, went 4-0 on the weekend with pins in 14 seconds, 42 seconds, 57 seconds and 1:57. She also surpassed the 60-win career benchmark for third-ranked McKendree. Ottum, a North Central College junior at 155 out of South who was coming off a finals appearance at the inaugural CCIW Championships, went 4-2 in the tournament and finished fourth. North Central is the No. 1-ranked team in the country. Sekona, a defending national champion, is a Colorado Mesa sophomore at 191 out of South. She placed fourth in her weight class after going 3-2 for the fourth-ranked Mavericks.
At Campbell University, nationally ranked brothers Caleb Hopkins and Levi Hopkins of Palmer each posted victories over The Citadel to remain undefeated in five Southern Conference matches. Only four Camels are 5-0 in league matches, with two of them are out of Colony. Caleb, a senior and two-time NCAA qualifier, currently is ranked No. 28 at 184 and defeated Micah DiCarlo 12-0 to move his season record to 14-7. Caleb has also won more than 50 career matches in a star-studded career that includes two Southern Conference individual titles. Levi, a junior ranked No. 29 at 197, downed Mark Chaid 6-1 to improve his record to 18-8; that’s the second most wins on the team. Campbell ranks No. 11 in the NWCA Division I Mid-Major top-20 poll.
At Utah Valley University, nationally ranked Evan Bockman of Anchorage has won 16 of 21 matches at 197 this season, including a win over Levi Hopkins in a rare matchup between Alaskans at the D1 level. Bockman, a returning NCAA qualifier out of Grace Christian, has furnished five wins by pin or major decision to help him achieve a No. 20 national rank. Bockman leads his team in victories, with his fastest pin coming in 57 seconds.
At Doane University, North Pole brothers Brandon Antesberger and Bradley Antesberger have helped the Tigers make school history for team victories in a single season as the NAIA team has won 18 of 19 dual meets. The old record was 15 wins, and the season is still going, showcasing this group’s prowess. Both Alaskans posted a 2-0 record last week with each Antesberger winning by decision and fall. Doane is ranked No. 4 among NAIA teams and Brandon (285) and Bradley (197) each are among the individual rankings.
At Cal Baptist, Glennallen’s Caden Gerlach has bagged six of his 12 victories by pin at 184 and 197, with the fastest one coming in 2:20. At 12-11 on the season, the sophomore is the only wrestler on his team with a winning record as Cal Baptist plays a tough schedule. Last weekend proved that point as Gerlach won a 4-0 decision over Guillermo Escobedo of Wyoming before dropping back-to-back 4-2 heartbreakers to opponents from Northern Colorado and Northern Iowa. Gerlach owns a 40-25 career record.