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Ketchikan slams into home tournament
Ketchikan High School wrestler Brock Thomas slams Thunder Mountain High School’s Nate Houston on Oct. 25, 2018 during the Bill Weiss Wrestling Tournament. Thomas won the bout by major decision 17-9. Ketchikan will host the Bill Weiss Wrestling Tournament this weekend in the Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium. Staff photo by Dustin Safranek

Daily News Sports Editor

It’s been a quick turnaround for the Ketchikan High School wrestling team — real quick.

Since returning home from the Haines Invitational on Monday, Ketchikan’s squad has barely had 48 hours to catch its breath and practice, before flipping back into competition mode on the mat again.

Ketchikan hosted the Sitka High School Wolves in the Craig Family Auxiliary Gymnasium on Thursday.

The two schools locked up in a mix of matches on Halloween night, to get the blood pumping for the Bill Weiss Wrestling Tournament this weekend.

“The ferry ride kind of prolonged (this past) weekend,” Ketchikan head coach Rick Collins said of returning back home from Haines. “So the week slammed together really fast.”

Sitka arrived to the First City early for the tournament. Several other schools arrived to town on Thursday.

Competition for the Bill Weiss Wrestling Tournament will begin at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, in a round-robin format in the Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium.

The tournament will bracket off on Saturday, starting at 10:30 a.m., with the finals slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

In addition to the Wolves, Craig, Kake, Haines, Hydaburg, Metlakatla, Mt. Edgecumbe, Petersburg, Thorne Bay, Thunder Mountain, Wrangell and Glennallen high schools will be in attendance for the Bill Weiss tournament.

Glennallen is the top-ranked wrestling squad in ASAA Division II.

“They’re really tough,” Collins said. “They’ve got a lot of upperclassmen. They’re incredibly well coached. They (compete) all spring, and then a lot of them compete in the summer and qualify for Team Alaska. So they’re very, very seasoned.

“They were here a couple years ago, and they had an excellent team then,” Collins continued. “But not nearly as loaded as this team. This team is really loaded. So I’m expected them to have a lot of success here.”

That said, Ketchikan also will be ready to compete.

“We’re hoping to lace them up and compete,” Collins said. “And be ready to go. ... We still have a lot of pride, and a good team. So we’ll be competitive.”

Ketchikan hit the weight room on Tuesday, and had a lighter work out on Wednesday, as it geared up for this weekend.

“We had a tough practice Tuesday to get our bodies ready to go for this weekend,” Ketchikan captain Andy Collins said. “We did a plate workout, and went and lifted weights after practice. ... We ran up and down the stairs with plates. ... You’re holding (the weight) above your head, so you have to keep it up the whole time.”

The weighted plates vary from 25 to 45 pounds.

“It depends on how much you weigh,” Andy Collins said.

The junior wrestler is one of three captains on the boys’ team this season, along with teammate Charlie Blair and senior Sully Schulz.

Sophomore Hayley Gilson is captain of the girls’ squad.

“Hayley was a unanimous decision,” Rick Collins said. “It’s a big honor to have your teammates vote for you. Definitely in all cases, Hayley was clear cut. Andy and Charlie, and Sully were very clear cut also. Pretty much every ballot we opened said (them).”

This weekend also will give an opportunity for Ketchikan to acknowledge its seniors on roster.

Schulz is the only Ketchikan wrestler that grappled all four years. Seniors Chris Harris, Vinny Trujillo, Caden Thomas and Katlian Blankenship also will be honored on Saturday, prior to the finals on Saturday, as well as team manager Riley Bolshakoff.

But just as some high school careers are ending, others are just beginning.

“This year we have a ton of, basically first-year wrestlers, that just started in January in middle school,” Rick Collins said. “They don’t even have a year of wrestling under their belt yet.”

But that’s why time on the mat is so important.

“Short weeks are brutal because instead of four days of practice, we have two,” Rick Collins said. “So that makes it hard to get enough done. But on the flipside, we get more competition, and experience on the mat. And that’s also really helpful.”

And it keeps the team on its toes.

“(This season’s) been going pretty good, pretty fast,” Ketchikan’s Degan Linne said. “Faster than normal, I would say.”

That’s the pace of the season — and a match.

“Just to stay aggressive,” Andy Collins said. “If you’re not aggressive, then you’re not moving and working. So you’ve got to set the pace of the match, and then keep it throughout the match.”