Heading into the 2019 Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam wrestling season, the four-time defending champion Father Duenas Friars (4-0) boys appear to be the frontrunners as they won their two meets on Saturday by beating John F. Kennedy High School 63-9 and George Washington High School 57-15.

According to FD coach Terry Debold, the Friars are in their rebuilding year because they lost some All-Island champions from the previous years to graduation. The team has only a few returning boys who finished in the top three from last year’s tournament.

“We are a long way to go. I have a super young team this year,” said Debold. “ I have a freshman wrestling at 126 and a lot of sophomores in the starting lineup.”

According to Debold, Thomas Pool, a gold medalist in 2018, and Kaleb Gambala, the silver medalist in 2018, are expected to lead the squad.

“They will be supported by a bunch of other guys that have always been in the mix in the top three,” he said. “We will depend on them to pull us through the matches.”

Debold said he believes that there will be a lot of competition in both the boys and girls divisions. This year, all of the schools are represented, he said, adding he feels that the league has tremendous growth that will add to good competition.

In the closest matchup of the day, the JFK Islanders (2-2) went the distance, edging out the Okkodo Bulldogs (3-1) 34-33. The Islanders got key pins from Ryan Kent (170-pound weight class) and Ryan Perez (heavyweight). The Bulldogs got falls from Gregory Charles (132), Peter Olandez (145) and Samuel Gose (152)

JFK coach Pavin Blas said he believes there is room for improvement for his young Islander squad. He expects that the team will progressively get better as the season moves forward.

“I know we are a really young team and we are far from what I expect from my team,” said Blas. “I know we are a lot better from what I see at practice and what I see that happens on the mat. So we just have to make a transition. I expect a lot of change in the next few months .”

Okkodo won their earlier match 39-34 over GW.