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By JOE JUDD
Daily News Sports Editor
A week removed from a dominating display in front of home supporters in the 2017 Bill Weiss Invitational, the Ketchikan High School wrestling team now has its focus on a new task at hand.
Starting Thursday, the Kings will be on the road once again to wrestle in the Colony Tournament, which will take place at Palmer High School.
Kayhi head coach Rick Collins said after Wednesday’s team practice that he does not plan to send a full squad to Palmer this weekend’s festivities.
Instead, there will be a total of 11 wrestlers who will be making the trip on behalf of Kayhi; the group will consist of: Nate Eisenhower, Patrick Rauwolf, Max Collins, Andy Collins, Matthew Rodriguez, Mark Jasper, Brayden Linne, Joey Karlik, Brandon Weaver, Cameron Harris and Dawson Entwit.
“We’re just going to go out and focus on getting some good matches for the guys that we are bringing,” Collins said.
Kayhi will take on Colony and South Anchorage high schools — the top two ranked teams in Alaska — in a dual meet on Friday.
With so few Kayhi Kings making the trip this weekend, Collins said that he is not looking for his group to emerge from the meet unscathed.
This competition, like every meet until regions, will be another preliminary stepping stone for the Kings before they arrive at the end.
“What I’m really looking forward to is just getting our guys some good matchups,” Collins said. “It’s something they can build on toward the end of the year.”
Nate Eisenhower, who will be Kayhi’s representative for the 160-pound weight class, said he has been working to fix a few minor things before he takes to the mat again this weekend.
With the season nearing its halfway mark, Eisenhower said sometimes fatigue can settle in and make it difficult to press on with the routine.
“Halfway through every season, you kind of get that grind feeling and you just move past it and prepare for the big tournaments,” Eisenhower said.
As a team, Kayhi has taken the first-place spot in each of the three meets the team has competed in this season.
Throughout the season, coach Collins and his athletes have said that their sights have ultimately been set on performing well in the Region V Tournament in early December.
“It will be good competition throughout the weekend,” senior Max Collins said. “Also, it’s going to get me ready for state.”
Collins will take to the mat this weekend in the 152-pound group, and will go up against some quality wrestling talent from a much deeper pool than what Southeast schools are used to.
Environmental factors could also potentially play a role for Collins and his 10 teammates in the invitational.
“It’s all about being acclimated to wrestling up in the valley in Anchorage,” Collins said. “The air is drier; everything is a little different, so you just need to focus on that. The competition up there is much more dense.”
The senior said he expects to wrestle in either four or five matches on Saturday.
The action will begin on Friday afternoon and will pick on Saturday morning, with the championship matches set to take place later in the day.