Shockley earns trip to State

Senior wrestler Chris Shockley of Skagway won just one match at the Region V meet in Sitka Dec. 6-8 but it was enough for the senior to earn a trip to the State Wrestling Tourney.
Shockley was seeded sixth at 145 pounds going into the region tourney and drew a first round bye. He then lost his first match but came back to post a win over a Klawock opponent in the consolation round. Even though he lost his next match to a Mt. Edgecumbe opponent, Shockley still qualified for the fifth place match. In that match, the Skagway senior was pinned by Nyle Thomas of Petersburg at the 2:07 mark, but he medaled with the sixth place finish.
Going into the ASAA State Championships last weekend at Kenai, Shockley had been sick and barely made the 140 pounds needed to stay in his weight class, said coach Josh Coughran.
Shockley drew the eventual runner-up, Zach Rininger of Seward, in the first round and was pinned at the 1:30 mark. In the consolation round, Shockley drew a bye and then wrestled Thomas Alakayak of Manokotak. It was a close match.
“Chris was down by five or six points going into the third period and then tried to get that back on a five-point-move,” Coughran said. “But the Manokotak had good defense on it and got the pin in the third round (at the 3:48 mark).”
Skagway almost sent two wrestlers to State.

Every Skagway wrestler came back with an award: top (from left), Chris Shockley, coach Josh Coughran, and Clayton Harris; bottom, Jeremy Kilburn and Crystal Ketterman.

At Regionals, freshman Crystal Ketterman was “within a takedown” of a trip to Kenai, her coach said. She went the distance against a Ketchikan opponent whom she beat earlier this season, and led at times, but ended up losing 13-10.
Skagway senior Clayton Harris ran up against a couple of tough opponents that he had trouble with earlier in the season and lost both of his matches. He was named to the region’s all-academic team.
Freshman Jeremy Kilburn had a tough draw against the top seed in his weight class, and then lost a close match in the consolation round. Kilburn and Ketterman received sportsmanship awards. Their coach said that if both freshmen stick with wrestling, then they should be locks for State by the time they are seniors.
“I’m real proud of the way our team performed at regionals,” Coughran said.
He added that the wrestling community is solidly behind switching back to a spring season next year. Having the wrestling season begin after basketball should get more kids to stick with the sport.

Stranded in Skagway
State trip hopes ruined for snowbound Panther spikers
The weather in Skagway is as unpredictable as a rabid dog. With clouds high above the mountains it looked as though that day would be hospitable. Only four hours earlier on Dec. 6, the wrestling team had taken off in their Cherokee 6 to head to Regionals. It was now time for the volleyball team to board for their Region tournament in Hoonah.
It was as if the gods had put up a gigantic stop sign. As the team left the school to head to the airport, low clouds began to sleep in the bottom of the canal. The Panthers still had an opportunity to leave, but the window of opportunity was closing rapidly. The sign stood clear and firm – if Skagway was going to the Region Tourney it would not be by air.
“We never looked at sending the girls out on the ferry (Dec. 4) because they would miss too much school and the ferry would not have even taken the team to Hoonah. They would have stayed in Juneau for two days,” said activities director Jeff Kasler. “It’s one of those situations where you’re darned if you do and you’re darned if you don’t.”
The clouds over Skagway forced the Panthers to forfeit the first match of the tournament against Hydaburg. But that did not take SHS out of State contention yet. Skagway was able to catch the late ferry on Friday night and get a special charter from Allen Marine, taking the Panthers from Juneau to Hoonah in time to work their way out of the deep hole they had been put in for the double elimination tournament.
Lady Luck and possibly mental fatigue were not on the Panthers’ side though. A fresh Klawock Chieftains team worked efficiently and derailed the Panthers.
Communication errors and dead feet hindered the weathered Skagway team and most of all broke their spirit. The Panthers were unable to rally from small deficits which eventually turned into insurmountable holes that buried them. It was over faster that it took to get started.
The Panthers floor general, Crystal Ackerman, said that the mental fatigue hurt them more then the physical fatigue.
“We were on an emotional rollercoaster,” Ackerman. “We came close but after everything we had been through we didn’t have any more energy.”
“I don’t know if I would make the same decision again,” Kasler said. “School has priority over sports, but I feel terrible, especially for the seniors.”

Panthers play sick, but play with pride: J-Hi boys take second place

The Skagway J-High Panther boys lost their first game of the season and finished second at the annual Fastbreak Tournament in Juneau earlier this month.
The boys, with high expectations in their B-bracket, were barely beaten by the Craig Panthers in the finals. The girls’ only win came against Sitka, even though some games were very close.
Through stiff competition and constantly battling the flu, the Panthers played well in the tournament considering the amount of young players on each team.
The boys lost by three to Craig in the finals, leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of veteran members of the team. The Panthers, who were up five in the closing minutes of the game, had a virtual meltdown after Skagway’s Trevor Cochran was whistled with a technical foul after verbally abusing an official. The Panthers were set to win the bracket after dominating performances throughout the tournament, including an earlier win over Craig.
The girls team came in rebuilding from their success last year. Opening against Ketchikan was not what the Panthers had hoped for, especially because the team felt they were seeded because of the game of players who have moved to the high school ranks.
The Panther girls were able to play their opponents tough, but a lack of experience made the Skagway bench look thinner then the roster showed.
“We had a bunch of close games,” said girls head coach Jeff Kasler. “They (other teams) were much larger than us and pounded on us inside and wore us down.”
Kasler also said that he was very proud of the way both Skagway teams played. Hopefully the J-Hi Panthers will find a way to battle the opposition and not the flu bug during their next tournament in Whitehorse in the middle of January.
The SHS varsity season begins with the annual Alumni games on Dec. 28 and the Don Hather Invitational Tourney on Jan. 3-5. – STAN BUSH