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By JOE JUDD
Daily News Sports Editor
Beginning Thursday, the Ketchikan High School wrestling team will host the annual Bill Weiss Invitational.
After spending the first couple of weekends of the month away from home to begin the 2017-18 season, the Kings can now look forward to putting their talent on display in front of local supporters.
Kayhi head coach Rick Collins said on Wednesday that his team has been doing a lot of fine-tuning and has worked on technique quite a bit in practice this week.
With competition for some wrestlers beginning on Thursday evening, the Kings have been dealt a shorter week than normal as far as preparation is concerned. Collins said there are both positives and negatives to the situation.
“The good news is, some of our kids will get some matches, which is really valuable experience,” Collins said. “The bad news is, we have one less day of practice this week.”
Collins went on to say that his wrestlers are rather content with not having to spend the weekend away from home, in addition to competing in the Kayhi-hosted event.
“There's typically some really contested brackets,” Collins said. “It's fun, so the kids are really looking forward to it.”
Kayhi finished in first place in Wrangell two weeks ago and took home another top finish in Juneau’s Brandon Pilot Invitational, held last weekend at Juneau-Douglas High School.
Scoring 210 points as a team and placing ahead of eight other schools in Wrangell, followed by last weekend’s competition in Juneau — which saw a litany of Kings take spots somewhere in the top three in their respective bracket — have Kayhi positive going into the weekend when they face opponents they have familiarity with after some early season meetings.
The Kings’ Mark Jasper said he feels that he usually feels propelled by the added presence of his family in the stands during home meets and is ready to get invitational started.
“I feel like I wrestle a lot harder (at home). I want to impress my family and friends,” Jasper said.
During the week when practice is not in session, Jasper says he likes to go over footage of his matches from the most recent meet, regardless if they ended in a win or a loss.
Any free time he gets is good enough of an occasion for Jasper to go over film.
Jasper's teammate Paul Allmendinger said he has mostly been focusing on his technique, while trying to stay in shape during this shortened week of practice.
Coach Collins commended and thanked the fundraising effort put forth by many parents and supporters of the team.
Between hospitality rooms for referees, housing arrangements, concessions and table workers, a lot must be done before the main attraction can begin.
“There's just a lot of work that goes into running a tournament,” Collins said. “It's three times the work to host (a tournament) than to just go to one.”
Competition is scheduled to begin at 5:15 p.m. and conclude at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday with scramble pairings set to take place on at least two separate mats.
The meet will officially open at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, with competition resuming at 10:30 a.m. on Friday. Awards will be given to the top 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A teams.