Charlie Blair and Emilio Mangrobang

Ketchikan High School's Charlie Blair, top, attempts to take down Mt. Edgecumbe High School's Emilio Mangrobang during the Bill Weiss Invitational Wrestling Tournament championships on April 24 at Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium. Blair holds the No. 2 seed in the boys’ 145-pound bracket at the state tournament in Anchorage this weekend. Staff photo by Dustin Safranek

Ketchikan High School is back on the mat.

After nearly a month away from competition, the Kayhi wrestling squad is grappling again, and the team’s first time back in action is at the state tournament.

“We’re just going to go out and do the best we can, and see how it goes,” Kayhi head coach Rick Collins said. “We have some really solid kids, and I think that they could do very well. So we’ll see how it goes.”

A dozen wrestlers from Kayhi traveled to Anchorage on Wednesday — via the milk run — and will compete at Bartlett and Chugiak high schools on Friday and Saturday.

The 11 boys representing Kayhi — Nathan Mowery (119-pound), Sampson Oliver (125-pound), Kai Biagi (130-pound), Brock Thomas (140-pound), Degan Linne (140-pound), Charlie Blair (145-pound), Kolin Houthoofd (152-pound), Andy Collins (160-pound), Tyler Manypenny (171-pound), Micah Blake (189-pound) and Liam Moseng (285-pound) — will wrestle at Bartlett.

Julia Biagi, representing Kayhi as the lone girl grappler, will compete at Chugiak in the girls’ 130-pound weight bracket.

“We had some kids that would’ve qualified, but couldn’t (come) for different reasons,” Collins said. “... So we ended up (with 12 kids).”

Since arriving in Anchorage, every wrestler from every town participating at the state tournament has basically been locked in their hotel room, due to the Alaska Schools Activities Association’s novel coronavirus mitigation plan.

“We’re under a real strict mitigation plan, so the kids aren’t allowed to go to the store, or anything like that,” Collins said. “... We can order food (and have it delivered), or coaches can go shopping. So we made some grocery store runs.

“The non-vaccinated kids are being tested twice a week before they come to the tournament, so everybody’s made it through the testing,” he continued. “We’re here, and wrestlers from all across the state have been tested under the same protocol. We’re making it as safe as we can, and hopefully will get some good wrestling in.”

The Kayhi squad was able to practice Thursday morning, however, and Collins took the crew to Kincaid Park for a run through a trail, and a quick roll around the grass.

“We can’t get any workouts in the schools (here) because of COVID,” Collins said. “We’ve never been here in the spring before, so we went out to Kincaid Park, and got a trail run in and then did some wrestling stuff on the grass.

“It was alright,” he continued. “We did some upper-body stuff. It was good. Just get them breathing, blowing hard a little bit.”

The Kayhi team has had only a handful of practices since hosting the Bill Weiss tournament on April 24. But the opportunity to practice outside was a welcomed one.

“It was a good little workout, for sure,” Collins said. “A couple of the guys got in a run (on Wednesday), too.”

The state tournament can be followed on, or watched on livestream through the NFHS Network. A link to the NFHS site is available through, however there is a fee to watch the livestream.

Kayhi’s seeded at state

Several Kayhi wrestlers are seeded in their respective brackets.

Both Biagis are seeded. Julia is No. 4 in her 130-pound weight bracket; Kai is No. 3 in his.

Linne holds the No. 3 seed in the 140-pound weight class. Both Blair and Houthoofd hold the No. 2 seeds in their respective brackets. Blair in the 145-pound weight class; Houthoofd in the 152-pound bracket.

Andy Collins has the No. 5 seed in the 160-pound weight class, as well.

Seeding is done through, and depends on various factors, including head-to-head matches, bouts against common opponents, or previous state champions or runners-up. A wrestler’s record also is a factor.

“Record against head-to-head and common opponent are the two highest criterias,” Collins said. “But there isn’t any of that this year because you just wrestle within your own region. So that made it fall back to the last criteria, which is best overall record. ... So it’s going to be a bit deceiving. Without that head-to-head it kind of throws the seeding out of wack a bit.

Collins expects there to be some drama on the mat this weekend.

“March Madness for basketball gets a little wacky,” he said. “Wrestling does, as well, normally. But this has the potential to be really wacky. It’s makes it fun. Dramatic, for sure.”