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Wrestlers Head To State Championship

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KUCB
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Six students from Unalaska are competing at the wrestling state championship this weekend.

Coach Brian Whittern is in his first season as head coach. Last year, five kids went to the state championship. Since then he says there have been some changes in how you qualify, which makes it harder for Unalaska's squad.

“Our conference now gets 30 berths and there were 130 wrestlers," Whittern said. "The conference that was created with the split gets 30 berths and there were 43 wrestlers. Basically, all those people had to do was show up and they went to state.”

Half of the team headed to state has been there before. They’re lead by senior Trey Henning -- a four-time state qualifier and seeded second in his weight-class.

But historically, Whittern says Unalaska’s teams have been small. Wrestling isn’t the sport people think of as having the best athletes.

“Trey [Henning] is accomplishing something that very few kids do," he said. "Assuming he stays healthy this weekend and wrestles the way we expect him to, he’ll become a three-time placer [at state] which is pretty rare. He has the potential to become the first [state] champion from Unalaska.”

Regardless of the outcome, this season Whittern says has already had a lot of firsts. A lot of those firsts belong to junior McKenzi Berry.

“She’s the first to compete for us," Whittern said. "The first to get a win. The first to be a regional champion and now the first to qualify and wrestle at state.”

He hopes if others see the success of this team, they’ll want to join, too.

Zoë Sobel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2019. She returned to KUCB after a year living in Nepal and Malaysia as a Luce Scholar. She then returned to KUCB as a ProPublica reporter August of 2020 through August of 2021.