October 6, 2011 |

Bear wrestlers start season this weekend in Hoonah

Several Haines wrestlers have the potential to be weight-class champions, coach Dennis Durr said this week.

"We don’t have a big enough team to compete for a team championship. We’re not able to spread out wrestlers over all the weight divisions. But as for individual champions, we have a good chance," Durr said.

The Glacier Bear wrestling team travels to Hoonah this weekend for a multi-team tournament, the first competition of its 10-week season. Ten boys have come to recent practices, Durr said.

The team graduated three seniors last year, but has picked up a few freshmen and upperclassmen. "I’d be happy if we could keep (ten). That would be nice," he said. The program is open to girls, but none have come out this year. (Girls make up as much as half the membership in some other schools in Southeast.)

The team is in its fourth year since the school wrestling program was resurrected and veterans are showing confidence, he said. "I really believe good things will happen this year."

Durr is looking for leadership from junior Jimmy Thomsen, who won some matches at the state championship last year, and to classmate Caullen Taylor and sophomore Walker Blair, who nearly advanced to the championship. "We have a good chance to send more than one wrestler to state," he said.

Other wrestlers include seniors Kenny Thomsen and Blake Ward, juniors Zach Rossman and Corey Piper, sophomore Dalton Tuohy, and freshmen Josh Stearns and Casey St. Clair.

Piper is a team veteran who has a good chance of making it to state, Durr said. Rossman is a first-year wrestler who shows promise. Ward previously wrestled and did very well, he said.

The team will compete at seven tournaments before the regional meet at Mount Edgecumbe in early December. A Haines tournament is scheduled for Oct. 21-22.

The squad is assisted by recent graduate Jesse Piper, the first wrestler of the reincarnated team to qualify for state, and recently was boosted by instruction from summer resident Andrew Cordella, a former Division I college wrestler.

Four or five students are expected to participate in a junior high wrestling program that starts in January. "They’re welcome to come out now and see what we do, though it can be a little intimidating for them. But if they stay with it, it will pay off for them."

Workouts are 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the elementary gym. Durr said he encourages other former wrestlers to stop by and lend their expertise. He can be reached at 314-0322.