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  • Anna Chabukina

It’s all in your Head

As I entered Teeland Middle School to cover today’s wrestling match, I wasn't sure what to expect. This was my first time watching wrestling. After watching the first few periods, the concept seemed pretty easy to grasp. If you’re not familiar with the intricacies of competitive wrestling, the goal is to force your opponent to land on their back on the mat, and hold them there for a minimum of three seconds to secure a win. Wrestlers score extra points by taking down their opponent throughout the match, flipping them onto their back. What I witnessed today was much more than just a competition – I saw athletes having fun in their element, playing a sport they clearly love.

Each wrestling match was organized by weight class, athletes paired up, shook hands, and began the competition. Being the first wrestling event of the 2024 Mat-Su Arctic Winter Games, this was the moment the competitors found out who their opponent would be for the rest of the week. With each introduction, I could tell by the wrestlers’ body language that their determination kicked up a notch. (It was honestly fascinating to watch.)

As pair after pair met on the mat for two two-minute periods, the crowd grew more invested. Team members sat close to the edge of their seats. The energy in the stands was electrifying! Seven pairs wrestled between Northwest Territories and Alaska and each competitor gave their all into today's matches. Northwest Territories walked away with two match wins and no forfeits. Alaska wrapped with five wins and two forfeits.

After the game, Shawn Flannagan of Team Alaska noted that of all the wrestling matches, the first match of an event is always the most nerve-racking. "Switching from collegiate to freestyle wrestling was fun. Exploring a new style was unique.”

"Coach reminds us to wrestle our own match," noted Team Alaska’s Infinity-Ann Asiaga-Higa. “Coach always says ‘don't let them get in your head.’" As the team summoned their confidence for the next match against Team Alberta North, Corbin Lutz of Team Alaska chimed in. "They said Canadians are different…they're stronger than they look."

Want to check out the next wrestling match for yourself? Head over to Teeland Middle School on Tuesday at 14:00 (2pm) and see if those Canadian competitors really are as strong as rumors imply.


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