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Tristan Goodell is Koliganek’s first state wrestling champion

Courtesy of Tristan Goodell.
Tristan Goodell at the 2022 state wrestling tournament in Anchorage. Goodell is Koliganek's first statewide wrestling championship.

High school junior Tristan Goodell, 16, is Koliganek’s first state wrestling champion. He competed in the Division II 125-pound weight class at the ASAA State Wrestling Championships at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage last weekend. He said the moment he won was striking.

“My finals match, that feeling after I won... I was happy and felt pretty amazing. The first Koliganek state champ,” he said. “It feels pretty great. I had good people that supported me [like] my uncle. My uncle was the coach.”

Goodell was the runner up for the state championship in the 130-pound weight class last year. This year, he dropped down to the 125 pound class.

Tristan Goodell 2.jpg
Courtesy of Tristan Goodell.
Tristan Goodell at the state wrestling tournament.

“I was hoping to get first,” he said. “I was just keeping my mind clear and getting ready to head out on the mat. ‘Cause it’s a pretty big tournament. There can be a bunch of competition.”

Goodell has wrestled since sixth grade. He said his uncle, Gusty Tunguing III, encouraged him.

“My uncle became coach and he wanted me to join,” he said. “I ended up loving the sport.”

Goodell said a big part of wrestling is traveling and making new friends. His favorite moves include the outside single leg, where the wrestler shoots to the outside of their opponent rather than attacking from underneath.

"You take a shot to the furthest leg and you grab their ankle or something, and you could turn into like a double leg or a single leg move," he said.

Winning the state title is especially meaningful because his uncles have also competed at state tournaments. One of them even won when he wrestled for New Stuyahok.

“I feel like it’s pretty important to me, cause there’s been two state champions in our family,” Goodell said. “I really looked up to them. They’ve both been to state and they’re really happy for me to win it.”

Get in touch with the author at or 907-842-2200.

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.