Kayhi wrestling kicked off on Sept. 28 with its first official practice. This year the team has 17 state qualifiers returning from last years season, only losing last year’s seniors Nate Fousel and Trevor Wutzke. The highest returning placer last season is Brayden Linne, coming in sixth at the state tournament. State qualifier Max Collins will be a big contender for placing at state this year with a freshman year record of 32-2, and a sophomore year record of 28-12. Collins has never lost a match in Southeast in his high-school career. Payton Stewart, Justin Albecker, Kadin Hodges, Patrick Rauwolf, Vince Tenebro, Grant Collins, and Cameron Harris are all also contenders to place at state. With all this potential, Coach Rick Collins believes, “this could be the best team in Kayhi wrestling history”.
He’s the dude with a lot of water and super short shorts. During wrestling season he’s often seen looking continually bruised and beaten from practices and competitions. He scares off all competitors with his tough-guy appearance. Nathaniel Fousel is the 2014 state champion of the 195 weight class for 1A/2A/3A school division, and just this year he won the 4A state competition for the 195 weight class. He’s wrestled for eight years, four of those on the Kayhi team. He’s also been on the varsity baseball and football teams at Kayhi since he was a freshman. In the summer of 2014 he attended the JRobb Intensive Camp at the University of Minnesota, which is a hardcore program for top-notch wrestlers across the nation. Not only is Fousel an experienced and talented wrestler, but he is also a high achieving student, and is involved with his community. He’s a member of National Honor Society, and he has been a Captain on the wrestling team since his sophomore year. Balancing a busy practice schedule with tons of homework from his numerous advanced placement courses, as well as helping out in the community, is more than difficult, it’s nearly impossible. Wrestling head Coach Rick Collins says that Fousel’s work ethic is second to none, and his school and athletic records are great evidence of that. “Being on top of your homework, bring it on trips, doing your homework everyday after practice, and getting it all done, no matter what,” Fousel said. “Time management is a big deal.” Fousel is a senior this wrestling season, a year that his competition has no doubt been waiting for since he was a freshman. He’s one of those athletes that competed so well as a freshman he could have passed as a senior. Fousel says he would like to continue wrestling in college, but is unsure of his college plans. Collins says that he has the ability to compete in wrestling at the collegiate level. “Competing at college is definitely a big jump, but he has abilities, but yeah for sure he could,” said Collins. Senior year is a crazy year, but Nate isn’t letting any of that get to him. He set the goal of defending his championship title and he accomplished this goal, this time at the 4A level, because Kayhi moved back into the large schools class. Fousel has also set the lofty goal of being an All-American Athlete, even a National Champion. “[Senior year] is kind of sad, but I’m mostly just excited. I want to finish off by doing really well,” said Fousel earlier this year. This year Fousel’s weight class was even more competitive than last year, with a combination of Kayhi moving into a bigger division, and other wrestlers moving weight classes, so Fousel definitely had a challenge. “An athlete like Nate comes around about every 15 years or so at this size of high school, he’s really talented, a super nice guy, highly intelligent, works really hard, and he’s definitely a great wrestler,” said Collins.
Kayhi wrestling took first place 12 times at Regions last weekend. Students who placed first were sophomore Payton Stewart in the 98 pound weight class, freshman Brayden Linne (106), sophomore Vince Tenebro (116), freshman Shawn Tavares (120), sophomore Kadin Hodges (126), sophomore Max Collins (138), senior Trevor Wutzke (145), junior Gerik Sherrill (160), sophomore Micah Eichner (182), senior Nate Fousel (195) and senior Brian McClennan (285). Coach Rick Collins is impressed by the performance at Regions. “This is the most we have had in the Region V Tournament,” said Collins. “It has actually beat the record of students winning regions in this school, and we took first for the eighth consecutive time so I’m pretty proud of this team.” The team will head to state this weekend.
Ketchikan finished 13th out of 43 teams in the Lancer Smith Memorial Tournament in Palmer over the weekend. Senior Nate Fousel was the highest finisher for the Kings. Fousel lost his 3rd place match, 4-2. Kayhi scored 65.5 points, South won the tournament with a score of 224.5.
The Kayhi varsity wrestling team will be competing at the Lancer Smith tournament in Palmer Nov. 20th and 21st. ‘Lance the Legend’ was an alumni from Palmer who was recently inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. The tournament will include all of the southeast teams and central Alaskan teams. Kayhi competed in the Craig tournament last week and took first with 146 points over Wrangell with 99 points.
The Kayhi wrestling team is heading to Criag Nov. 13 to compete with all of the Southeast teams, except for TMHS and JDHS. The Kings have a very young team. “80% of our team is underclassmen,” senior Trevor Wutzke said. “We are more conditioned than most teams though.” The Kings took 4th at the Colony tournament last Friday under Colony, Palmer, and Wasilla. Senior Nate Fousel believes they will do better in Craig. “We are going to win it,” Fousel said.
The Kayhi Kings finished 4th in the Colony tournament Nov. 6-7. Nate Fousel and Sean Tavares won their weight class. Mathew Rodriguez also reached the finals. The Kings are next competing in Craig Nov. 13 and 14.