Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Three wrestlers qualify for state


Three Haines High School wrestlers qualified for this weekend’s state tournament at Anchorage Christian School, matching last year’s total.

Freshman Charlie Bower (106 pounds), senior Walker Blair (152) and sophomore Kai Hays (160) earned state berths by placing among the top grapplers at last weekend’s regional tournament in Sitka.

Host Mount Edgecumbe was the overall, team champion, followed by Petersburg and Craig. The Glacier Bears placed eighth out of 15 total teams from classes 1A, 2A and 3A. Co-coach Dennis Durr said team scoring mostly was aligned by the size of each squad, because “it’s hard to beat the numbers.”

The most surprising performance for the Glacier Bears at the regional event was from the sophomore Hays, who missed much of the season due to injury. He entered the tournament unseeded, and then posted a 4-1 record for third place.

“That was really nice,” Durr said. “We didn’t see that coming.”

He said Hays is “extremely strong” and has been “muscling guys around.”

“His strength is his strongest aspect, and that’s what got him there,” Durr said. “He’s just getting better, because he’s really working hard in practice.”

Bower also was a third-place finisher for Haines, tallying a 3-1 mark in an eight-wrestler bracket.

“Charlie is, first of all, a very natural athlete, but he’s very, very coachable and he learns quickly in practice,” said co-coach Andrew Cardella, who noted Bower intently watches video to analyze technique.

Blair, a senior leader for the team this season, slipped into a spot at state as an alternate. The top four finishers automatically qualify, and he placed fifth with a 2-2 record, but another athlete withdrew from state consideration after an injury. This will be Blair’s first appearance at state.

Both Blair and sophomore Zane Durr (145 pounds) were in 16-wrestler brackets. Durr narrowly missed a state berth, placing fifth and being designated as an alternate. He was 4-2 at the tournament and was hoping to make state for a second time.

“That’s two years in a row that we’ve brought a freshman to state,” coach Durr said, referring to Bower. “That’s great, and I think that junior high program is really paying dividends right now.”

Freshman Ketch Jacobson (106 pounds), freshman Mori Hays (138), junior Casey St. Clair (152) and sophomore Tyler Murphy (170) also wrestled for Haines at regionals, and the team continued to practice this week.

“It’s still a team, and we need the whole team,” coach Durr said.