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

Verhamme places fourth in state wrestling finals


December 20, 2018

Two Haines Glacier Bears wrestlers closed their season at state championship tournament last weekend in Anchorage, on Dec. 14 and 15.

Senior Kamakana Kanahele and sophomore Wesley Verhamme took home eighth and fourth place respectively in their 16-person weight brackets.

Kanahele won two matches and lost two, against first and fourth-seed opponents.

“I gave them a pretty good fight for their money,” he said. “Almost got the first-seed on his back but he turned around and he pinned me.” Kanahele said his opponents were more experienced.

Coach Ben Bard said that Kanahele’s performance at the championship was one of the best he’s seen.

“It was a different Kamakana than I’m used to seeing,” Bard said. “Usually he’s a little more lethargic on the mat but this time he was moving like lightning, taking good shots, staying in position and doing things the right way.”

The competition marked the last time graduating senior Kanahele would compete as a Glacier Bear, and he said he left it all on the mat and will now look to his younger teammates to carry the squad forward next year.

Kanahele said he’s proud of the way teammate Wesley Verhamme performed at state, and predicts the rising athlete will post more wins if he keeps up his training.

“I could see him taking first place if he pushes hard enough,” Kanahele said. “And he’s only a sophomore.”

Verhamme won four of his six matches, earning a fourth place medal in the heavyweight division, where he beat out competitors as much as 50 pounds heavier than him.

Initially, Verhamme said he was worried about competing on the light end of his weight bracket when he saw a 280-pound wrestler “throwing guys around like rag dolls,” but was able to tactically overcome his heavier competitors by observing them beforehand.

“I knew if I stayed low and put head pressure, I’d be okay,” he said. “I ended up pinning him in the first minute of the match.”

Bard said that next season, Verhamme will cut weight to wrestle in a lower weight bracket, at 215 pounds, down from 230 this year.

“He’ll probably be a bit leaner, quicker, and he’ll be stronger at that weight class,” Bard said. “I have a really good feeling about him.”

As for Kanahele, he said he plans to wrestle in college after taking some time off to do a two-year missionary retreat with his church.


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