Ruby McCue is declared the winner

Ketchikan High School senior Ruby McCue, center, is declared the winner after beating Mt. Edgecumbe High School's Serena Christmas, right, during the championship round of the Bill Weiss Wrestling Tournament on Saturday at Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium. Staff photo by Dustin Safranek

Ketchikan High School wrestling coach Matt Hamilton leaned over to his friend, and commented about the moment that was taking place under the spotlights on the center mat during the Bill Weiss Wrestling Tournament championships on Saturday.

“‘Did you ever think you were going to look at a female wrestler on this mat’ — because we hadn’t at Kayhi until a few years ago — ‘and see somebody who looks sound,’” he said. “That looks like they know what they’re doing out there, and are confident.”

It was an ode to girls wrestling — and just how far the sport has come in a short amount of time.

Kayhi has 11 girls on its wrestling roster this year. A few seasons ago, Kayhi just a had a couple.

This year’s group of seniors have seen it grow exponentially, and on Saturday, Kayhi’s girls wrestlers dominated on the mat.

“The ladies were really, really awesome,” Hamilton said.

Led by seniors Hayley Gilson and Ruby McCue, the Lady Kings tallied several victories during the two-day event inside Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium. Teams from Mt. Edgecumbe, Petersburg, Thorne Bay and Craig high schools had girls grappling at the tournament.

Gilson won the 135-pound weight class, and McCue came in second place. Gilson went undefeated during Friday and Saturday, and McCue’s only loss throughout the two days was against Gilson. The two battled wrestlers from Mt. Edgecumbe under the spotlights in the last round.

“The Mt. Edgecumbe ladies stepped up to give those girls their matches,” Hamilton said. “That was really great.”

Gilson beat McKayla Kazinguk, and McCue beat Serena Christmas.

“Gilson did amazing in that last match,” Hamilton said. “That was a great way to put the punctuation on the evening.”

And McCue did the same.

“Ruby came back this season, and one of my favorite things about her is she truly is not your average kid,” Hamilton said. “She sees things from very different angles, and it makes me really happy to be her coach because I’m interested to see what she becomes like when she becomes an adult. She has amazing viewpoints of the world, and very artistic.”

Along with the duo, Kayhi’s Julia Biagi won the 125-pound weight class, and the Lady Kings’ Abby Duckworth and Trisha Capps went head-to-head in the 119-pound weight class championship.

Capps ultimately won via a fall over Duckworth.

“I’ve been telling Trisha for weeks that she’s a wrestler, and you could kind of see it in her face that she didn’t believe me,” Hamilton said. “Abby is great. She’s a great wrestler, and I think with a little tweaking here or there, we’re going to (get her) some giant wins, up north.

“But tonight was Capps’ night,” he continued. “I think she does well under pressure. But she never balked at the moment. She went all in.”

That ‘all in’ attitude is the Lady Kings’ style.

The underclassmen are taking their cues from the seniors.

“With Hayley and Ruby, those are two women that I would not ever cross,” Hamilton said. “The next few years, I do not want to step in front of them because they know what they want in their life. And I’m really happy to be a part of their life, that way.”

Notes: Results from the Bill Weiss Wrestling Tournament will be in a forthcoming issue.