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

Wrestlers to grapple in state tournament


December 13, 2018 | View PDF

The Haines Glacier Bears wrestling squad is sending two athletes to the state championship in Anchorage this weekend.

Senior Kamakana Kanahele and sophomore Wesley Verhamme placed third and second respectively at the regional tournament in Juneau last weekend, which secured their spot in the state tournament.

Kanahele went 1-1, defending his third-place position. He wrestled a lighter weight athlete, whose technical skill and speed made for a tough match, Kanahele said. “Keeping up with him was a little harder. He was a lot faster than I was,” Kanahele said. “I have skill, but I like to muscle people around. He has technique and he’s quick, so I had to figure out what to do. He gave me a good match but I still won.”

Kanahele pinned his opponent in the second round. This training week, and his last state tournament as a high-school wrestler, Kanahele said, will be one of the toughest and most emotional weeks he’s had. “Because I’m a senior, I’ve been doing it for a while and I’ve made a lot of friends through wrestling. I get to see them one last time and wrestle with them. I’m going to take pictures with them, and I’m hoping to end this year with a bang.”

The camaraderie developed from wrestling with Verhamme has also been rewarding, Kanahele said. Verhamme’s drive and intensity pushed Kanahele to improve.

Coach Ben Bard said Verhamme, who’s wrestling in the heavyweight division, has a great shot at placing in state. He’s wrestled all season against last year’s heavyweight champion Haley Osborne. Verhamme has spent plenty of time on the mat against the Mount Edgecumbe junior, practice Bard said has steeled Verhamme for state.

“Wesley has been wrestling the toughest competition in his weight class,” Bard said. “Even if he’s getting his face slammed into the mat, it’s just going to make him that much tougher against the other guys.”

Verhamme said while he’s smaller than most of the athletes he’ll face at the state tournament, he’ll take advantage of his speed and improved technique. “I feel like I’ve gotten a lot faster,” Verhamme said of his improvement this season compared to last. “I’m shooting in, and as soon as I’m hitting the ground, I’m turning into my next move. It’s all owing together.”

Bard said he’ll spend the week refining technique and preparing the boys for the competition. “It’s about getting them more mentally prepared than anything,” Bard said.


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