Hayley Gilson started her Kayhi wrestling career by winning a region championship and finishing 6th at state her freshman year. Year two started even better; she is 8-2 overall and 8-0 in her weight class. She beat last year’s state champ twice in Wrangell the first week of the season.
“Hayley has worked very hard,” coach Rick Collins said. “She went to some wrestling with Team Alaska. She just takes it very seriously.”
Gilson spent the whole month of June training this past summer with Team Alaska. The season started out in Chugiak right after school got out. She trained there with over 100 wrestlers with ages ranging from 8-18.
After training for a week and a half, Gilson along with 17 others from Alaska traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma to participate in a tournament that consisted of team duals.
“Hayley seems to really be on a mission,” said Collins. “I just expect great things from Hayley this year.”
Girls wrestling is a relatively new program to Kayhi these past four years. In the previous years they would have one or two girl wrestlers. For meets the girls would be intertwined together with the boys.
“We started about the same time as everyone else about 3 years ago,” said Coach Collins
In 2015 ASAA finally made an all girls state tournament 4 years ago. In years past girls would compete with the boys at regions to go to state; girls would rarely go to state due to the fact that the boys were just better usually, but not always. Now that we have an all girls team the girls do not have to wrestle the boys anymore and they have had more girls try out for the team.
“Our program has built that way up with better numbers than in the past. We have 10 girls now, very significant because we used to have only one,” said Coach Collins.
Mt. Edgecumbe Lady Braves have clenched the region title for the past 3 years. Edgecumbe has about 20 more wrestlers than us. They fill the weight classes, unlike us. Captain Sully Shulz said our team would definitely have a shot at regions if we had more girls.
The Kayhi wrestling team won at the Haines Invitational Tournament this weekend. Coach Rick Collins said the team did good overall especially with the conditions and is happy with getting a big win before going into the Bill Weiss Tournament.
“We continue to improve and overcome adversity, but saw great improvement in more areas that we need to improve on,” said Coach Rick Collins.
While suffering a big loss to Nick Tipton last year at the Region V Tournament, senior captain Sully Shultz was looking to redeem himself but fell short of three matches to Tipton this weekend.
“Base line is that I need to work harder on bottom, I got in on so many shots on Nick and didn’t finish and rode bottom the entire match. I am dropping a weight class down for Bill Weiss and I’ll see how I do down there,” said Sully Shultz.
Junior Charles Blair has started his wrestling season with a record of 10-0 and is very happy with his wrestling so far.
“It really feels good representing Kayhi by winning matches and improving my wrestling skills,” said Blair.
Coach Collins is ready for this upcoming weekend of wrestling and is trying to overcome the lack of practices that the team has gotten due to traveling.
“This is a tough week for us, but we will be ready to roll and have a great home event,” said Collins.
The Lady Kings lost both Friday and Saturday night to the Lady Wolves. The Lady Kings fell 0-3 on both nights, on Friday night (28-26, 25-16, 25-7) and on Saturday night (25-12, 25-16, 25-16). It was the Kings last home games of the season. Although the Kings lost senior Erika Rauwolf is thankful for the experience she has had and for the support she received.
“It was a great weekend, I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to play for my school and to have the support that I had on senior night by my friends and family was truly a blessing,” said Rauwolf. “I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
The Lady Kings are two weeks away from heading into the Region tournament in Juneau.
The Kayhi Lady Kings will be playing the Sitka Wolves this Friday and Saturday night. These games will be the Kings last set of home games this season and for three of the senior players it will be their last home game ever. Senior Erika Rauwolf talks about this weekend.
“It’s for sure a bittersweet moment but good in a way. Everything has to come to an end eventually,” said Rauwolf. “It’s been a good couple years of playing.”
For senior Mackenzie Merrill it’s been a hard pill to swallow.
“It’s pretty emotional for me to think I won’t step on the home court and play volleyball again. I’ve had ups and downs with this sport but it was my very first sport that made me understand what a family really is. It’s hard to believe it’s going to be ending soon,” said Merrill.
Senior Madison Purcell has some advice for future Lady Kings and for underclassmen.
“Communicate with your coach, keep a good attitude and be ready to play,” said Purcell.
Friday: 5 pm Kayhi JV vs Sitka JV 7 pm Kayhi V vs Sitka V
Saturday: 5pm Kayhi JV vs Sitka JV Senior Night 7 pm Kayhi V vs Sitka V
The Lady Kings varsity volleyball team came back winless. Both Friday and Saturday night the Lady Kings lost 0-3. Sophomore Jenae Rhoads saw improvement in the team but said the team just couldn’t focus at critical times.
“I think we played better than when we first played [Juneau] we got close the first few matches but fell apart when we needed to focus on the game,” said Rhoads.
The Lady Kings will have their last home games and their senior night this upcoming Friday and Saturday.
Friday: Kayhi JV2 vs Juneau JV2 (25-17, 25-21, 25-19)
Cross country is the one sport where not only you’re racing against opponents but also the clock. The boys finished second at regions this year, 32 points behind Juneau Douglas. The girls were third, 49 points behind the first place Crimson Bears. The boys were led by sophomore Brent Capps, who consistently kept breaking his PR and improving throughout the season. “What makes Brent so special is he just can’t stop running,” said Coach Woodward. As the season went on Brent kept on getting closer to getting first but didn’t quite accomplish that; however, he did place higher. Brent dropped a whole 2 minutes over the course of the season to finish off with a PR of 17:02 in the 5K. Brent puts in the extra work that most people don’t and it pays off. “Brent runs any chance he has. He even runs home from school,” said Lapinski. Freshman Anneliese Hiatt (9th at regions) led the girls squad this season with her top time at 20.29, the first girl to break 21 minutes since 2015. “Just like Brent, Anneliese loves to run. That girl will always be running, I see her all the time when I’m around town,” said Woodward. Owen Woodward finished 8th in our home meet Sep 21. Owen was in the middle and never really stood out until regions. “I was worried that weekend because Owen was palling around with Brent and he had put on so many miles heading into regions and he had to be tired but he had his best race ever and dropped a whole minute,” said Woodward. “He kept up with Brent for as long as he possibly could. He was top three for our team for the first 2 miles. He went in as the 8th alternate.”. Kayhi will be losing five seniors this season. Junior Morgan Elerding said next year will be different next year without the seniors. “Ashley Cyr is the one I’m going to miss the most, I’ll miss just being on a team with her cause she is one of my closest friends. I always have a lot of fun with her on trips,” said Morgan Elerding. The team traveled to Craig, Petersburg, Juneau twice, Sitka for Regions, and Anchorage for state. They also hosted one home meet this season. Kayhi brought 7 boys and 7 girls up to race in Sitka for regions. In the past years it has always been the top team and the top 10 individuals who attend state. At the coaches meeting Coach Woodward was informed of something new to Region V. “The morning of regions I found out about the change they implemented last year- switching us from 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, to Division 1. They made some further changes on how many individuals we were aloud to take to state. We can now take 12 instead of 10,” said Woodward.
Kayhi volleyball is on its third coach in four years, but the coaching carousel might just stop with Kevin Johnson. Johnson was hired in June after previous coach of two years Beth Sandefur left to go coach the Schoenbar Middle School volleyball team. Kayhi last won a Region V title in 2015, that team was lead by Kevin Johnson’s daughter, Kreylyn Johnson who was a junior, but it seems longer after four near winless seasons. Johnson wanted to coach because he thought the team needed to reach their full potential as well as putting in the effort that it takes while having fun. “The program needed a coach who had some energy and that could get our girls to a higher level of playing,” said Johnson. “It’s to get the kids committed to understanding you have to work to win you can’t just show up and get lucky and I think the other part to that is that I want our kids to leave with a good experience” Johnson has coached both boys and girls in basketball and volleyball and it’s his twenty third year of coaching. “I’ve coached both this is my twenty-third year as a coach so I’ve been at it for a while, I’ve coached both genders,” said Johnson. “Girls you know you can coach hard, you can coach girls hard, you can push them you can drive them you can do all those things but the difference between males and females in coaching them is their ability to deal with what they internalize. With girls its a building progress but once they get there it’s over,” emphasized Johnson. Senior Captain, Mackenzie Merrill has had three different coaches her four years of high school volleyball. Not having the same coach for more than two years has taken its toll on Merrill. “It is definitely one of the biggest downfalls I struggled with as a player. Not being able to make a true connection with a coach was really hard,” said Merril. Merril said that the team has had big leaps from last season to this season with Kevin Johnson. “The biggest shift from last year to this year would probably be bringing in a new coach who wants to change the volleyball community in Ketchikan. He’s not only here to keep volleyball going but to make it a great program,” said Merril. Merril thinks that the team connects perfectly with Kevin Johnson. “I think we fit right in with Kevin Johnson. He is a coach who pushes and pushes until we reach our full potential. Even if that’s us slowly gaining progress or us losing our confidence he is right there to pick us up and show us what a team is,” said Merril. Merrill is confident in what Kevin Johnson and the team can accomplish in the future. “I know for a fact Kevin Johnson is going to lead this team to a region win and possibly a state win,” said Merril.