Some quick footwork by coach Matt Hamilton helped turn a disappointing meet for the Ketchikan High School girls wrestling team into a trip to remember.
After all of the girls were quickly eliminated from the ACS Invitational, the former state champion showed he still knows how to throw a counter attack, finding another tournament for Kayhi to compete in.
The late addition to the schedule proved to be a winning move as Julia Biagi and Brooklyn Dillard each won championships, three other wrestlers placed third and the whole team got in a bevy of quality matches in the Eagle River Rumble.
“We had a rough go of it at ACS. The tournament was kind of a bust for us,” Hamilton said. “All the girls were out of the tournament by the end of the first night and we still had two more days up here. The girls did their best, but they just had a hard time. It was such a low note. They were all pretty bummed out.”
Hamilton talked to some of the other coaches at the ACS tournament and they let him know about other tournaments in the area, including the Eagle River tournament.
“I got on the phone at about 9 and called Eagle River and told them our girls wanted in the tournament and they got us in,” Hamilton said.
Biagi, who didn’t get to wrestle in the ACS tournament because of illness, recovered in fantastic fashion at Eagle River, pinning all three of her opponents in under a minute to win the 126-pound division.
“She was still feeling sick when we got up here and I kind of made the decision to pull her at the last second,” Hamilton said. “Julia is pretty hard on herself. When I told her she wasn’t wrestling she felt like she was letting people down. When I told them we were going to another tournament, Julie said, ‘I’ll be fine by tomorrow. I promise.’”
After pinning her first two opponents to reach the final, Biagi needed just 22 seconds to pin Nenana’s Chloe Parsons to claim the title.
In the 114-pound championship match, Brooklin Dillard pinned Dillingham’s Izabelle Savo in 2 minutes, 12 seconds.
“It is the first time she has won a tournament. She was absolutely ecstatic,” Hamilton said. “It was just amazing. She had some tough matches and did a really good job. I was very proud of her.”
In the 138-pound third-place match Isadora Oliver pinned Palmer’s Macalliste McGraw in 3:16.
“She pulled out a big win. That was a big moment for her,” Hamilton said. “It was awesome. The first time she has placed in a tournament. There were a lot of happy tears. It’s one of the top five moments of my coaching career.”
Gabrielle Bueno also finished third at 107 pounds and Summer Boling finished third at 114. Min Thou Vu was fifth at 114 and Sarah Weyhmiller finished sixth at 132.