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By A.J. JANKOWSKI
Daily News Sports Editor
After the Bill Weiss Wrestling Invitational concluded Saturday night and the Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium began to clear out, Ketchikan High School senior Davon Wake stood near the middle of the mat-cleared court clutching an enlarged printout of the 170-pound bracket.
He had waited his entire career to earn a bout sheet, which is given to the winner of each weight class.
He was not letting go — to the bracket or the moment — anytime soon.
"It feels fantastic," he said. "I've been working six years for this."
Wake was one of three Kayhi wrestlers to win an individual title at their home tournament, as the Kings compiled 157 points to open their season with a team title in one of Southeast’s largest wrestling events.
Kayhi showed some rusty during the dual-portion of the Invite on Friday, but wrestled strong all day long Saturday, placing nine wrestlers inside the top three of their respective weights.
"We had some matches that didn't go so well (Friday), and we kind of flipped the switch (Saturday) and came out and did our thing," said Marcus Martin, a junior who defeated Sitka’s Caleb Suarez 5-2 to win the 120-pound bracket.
Along with Martin and Wake, sophomore Nate Fousel also won gold, as he punished Juneau-Douglas’ Cody Weldon from all three positions before eventually pinning him with 39 seconds left in the second period.
"I just wanted to wrestle my match," said Fousel, who finished second at 170 pounds at last year’s Bill Weiss. "I felt good out there."
Trevor Wutzke, Robert Williams and Keenan Spencer finished second for Kayhi, while teammates Josh Danao, Kadin Hallstrom and T. McBurnette avenged earlier losses by battling back to earn third place.
"The No. 1 thing I look for is effort, and it was there," said head coach Rick Collins. "I just loved their effort, and if they keep that up, they're going to grow so much throughout the year."
Craig took second in the team standings with 124.5 points, as all four Panthers who made the finals took home first-place finishes.
Seth Packer, Hunter Fitch, Wyatt Patten and Tucker Thain each won their brackets for Craig, and Thorne Bay’s Tell Tripple and Luther Jenson both took first to give Prince of Wales Island six champions.
"The Island’s really strong," Collins said, "which helps us be strong."
Metlakatla heavyweight Tristan Alexander used two reversals and a takedown to top Thunder Mountain’s Rick Johnson 6-1, giving southern Southeast 10 of the 13 titles.
Petersburg’s Daryl Toyomura, Sitka’s Jaren Sumauang and the Crimson Bears’ J.D. Hudson rounded out the champions.
"I was kind of hoping for a few more (Kings) in the finals, but it just didn't shake out that way," Collins said. "We lost a few heartbreakers, but we won some dramatic matches, too."
None were more dramatic than the 170-pound final between Wake and Wrangell’s Jeffrey Rooney, who had defeated the Kayhi senior 9-4 in a dual Friday.
This time around, with the entire student section chanting his name, Wake controlled the pace early by notching a takedown 40 seconds into the match.
"You can't think of the past," Wake said. "I didn't show him everything I had (Friday), and I came into today thinking that I was going to win."
A pair of escapes by Rooney tied the score at 2-2 with 30 seconds remaining in the second, but Wake got both arms around his opponent and threw him for the deciding takedown.
Wake was on bottom for the entire third, but never gave up any back points and came away with the victory to start his first year as a starter on the right note.
"I've never felt that before. I've never been in the spotlight," Wake said. "I felt so great when the crowd started screaming my name. I had to do it for my hometown."
Collins said Wake "wrestled great all day," but just like the rest of the Kings, the coaching staff will find areas in need of improvement going forward.
"You're always looking for that perfect match, and perfection really never exists," the coach said. "We're going to coach a few things and a couple situations on every kid out there."
All things considered, Collins said he was very pleased with the way his team competed in its first weekend of competition.
"You've got to start somewhere, right?" he said. "We're competitive and we want to do our best all the time, but we also understand that it's really early. We're going to go out, analyze our mistakes and keep working."
Kayhi and the rest of Southeast heads to Juneau Friday for the Pilot Tournament.
With three guys winning titles and six more standing on the podium Saturday, the Kings are confident they can keep the ball rolling next week.
"This is such a big stepping stone for us," said Wake, holding his bout sheet firmly by his side. "We got a few first places, and we won the team title. I'm feeling great about us going into Juneau."
1) Ketchikan, 157 points; 2) Craig, 124.5; 3) Petersburg, 123.5; 4) Juneau-Douglas, 71; 5) Thunder Mountain, 68; 6) Thorne Bay, 64.5; 7) Sitka, 61; 8) Wrangell, 58; 9) Haines, 42.5; 10) Hoonah, 40; 11) Hydaburg, 38; 12) Metlakatla, 35.5; 13) Skagway, 17.5; 14) Yakutat, 6; 15) Klawock, 4.
98 pounds: Seth Packer (CRG) dec. Buddy Stelmach (PBG) 8-7
113: Daryl Toyomura (PBG) pins Trevor Wutzke (KTN)
120: Marcus Martin (KTN) dec. Caleb Suarez (SIT) 5-2
126: Tell Tripple (TB) maj. dec. Keenan Spencer (KTN) 10-1
132: Hunter Fitch (CRG) maj. dec. Trevor Cox (SKG) 9-1
138: Wyatt Patten (CRG) dec. John Brooks (PBG) 5-4
145: Jaren Sumauang (SIT) pins Logan Turcott (PBG)
152: Luther Jenson (TB) pins Billy Ware (PBG)
160: Tucker Thain (CRG) pins Malik Brown (JD)
170: Davon Wake (KTN) dec. Jeffrey Rooney (WRG) 4-2
182: Nate Fousel (KTN) pins Cody Weldon (JD)
220: J.D. Hudson (JD) dec. Robert Williams (KTN) 7-2
Hvy: Tristan Alexander (MET) dec. Rick Johnson (TM) 6-1
Kayhi at Bill Weiss
Trevor Wutkze pins Charlie Bower (HNS)
First-place match: Daryl Toyomura pins Trevor Wutzke
Marcus Martin pins Josh Danao
Josh Danao pins Caleb Meyer (SIT)
Third-place match: Josh Danao maj. dec. Quinn Slayton (TB) 12-3
First-place match: Marcus Martin dec. Caleb Suarez (SIT) 5-2
Keenan Spencer maj. dec. Nathaniel Lenhard (PBG) 11-2
Keenan Spencer pins Manny Budke (HNH)
First-place match: Tell Tripple (TB) maj. dec. Keenan Spencer 10-1
Trevor Cox (SKG) tech. fall Dallas Dillard 18-1
Sam Nolan (TM) pins Dallas Dillard
Mason Hoppe (KLW) pins Kadin Hallstrom
Kadin Hallstrom pins Darren Shilts (WRG)
Kadin Hallstrom maj. dec. Michael File (PBG) 14-1
Third-place match: Kadin Hallstrom maj. dec. Sam Nolan (TM) 9-1
Theo Benson pins Samuel Sheakley (HNH)
Theo Benson pins Mori Hays (HNS)
John Brooks (PBG) maj. dec. Ben Kacenas 13-4
Ben Kacenas maj. dec. Luke Gunderson (WRG) 14-4
Ben Kacenas pins Samuel Sheakley (HNH)
Wyatt Patten (CRG) dec. Theo Benson 4-0
Theo Benson dec. Ben Kacenas 1-0
Third-place match: Hunter Boyer (TM) dec. Theo Benson 4-3
Jaren Sumauang (SIT) tech. fall Hitsati Hudson 20-2
Josh Young (SIT) pins Hitsati Hudson
Sidney Edenshaw (HYD) pins Brendon Divelbiss
Justin Elmore (TM) pins Brendon Divelbiss
Luther Jenson (TB) pins Gerik Sherrill
Justin Elmore (TM) pins Gerik Sherrill
T. McBurnette dec. William Peele (HYD) 5-3
Tucker Thain (CRG) maj. dec. T. McBurnette 12-3
T. McBurnette dec. Ben Rockwood (YAK) 12-7
Third-place match: T. McBurnette dec. William Peele (HYD) 6-3
Jeffrey Rooney (WRG) pins Daniel Lontz
Alonzo Leisholmn (MET) tech. fall Daniel Lontz 16-1
Davon Wake pins Matthew Davis (PBG)
Davon Wake dec. Torsten Skaflestad 5-1
First-place match: Davon Wake dec. Jeffrey Rooney (WRG) 4-2
Nate Fousel pins Jase Lippert (TM)
Nate Fousel dec. Kirk Evens (PBG) 7-1
Q’on Bear Clark (TM) dec. Jake Stout 3-1 OT
Cody Weldon (JD) dec. George Bolton 14-10
Daniel Eichner pins Lianno Vejar (TM)
Nate Fousel pins Daniel Eichner
Jake Stout inj. def. Jase Lippert (TM)
Jake Stout tech. fall George Bolton 15-0
Jake Stout dec. Daniel Eichner 7-1
Third-place match: Q’on Bear Clark (TM)?dec. Jake Stout 6-2
First-place match: Nate Fousel pins Cody Weldon (JD)
Robert Williams pins Robert King (HYD)
First-place match: J.D. Hudson dec. Robert Williams 7-2
Matthew Gudgel (PBG) inj. def. Dallin Ward
Joey Yaletchko (TM) inj. def. Dallin Ward