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Willis continues Bonner Springs wrestling tradition

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Caleb Willis is one of the top wrestlers in 5A for tradition-rich Bonner Springs

  • Bonner Springs senior Caleb Willis is one of the top ranked wrestlers in Kansas. (Photo by Nick Verbenec,
    Bonner Springs senior Caleb Willis is one of the top ranked wrestlers in Kansas. (Photo by Nick Verbenec,

The Bonner Springs wrestling program has a rich tradition of success with well over 100 state placers and 23 individual champions in program history. The Braves are gearing up to make another postseason run and senior 220 pounder Caleb Willis will lead the way and go down as one of the program’s all-time greats.

Currently ranked third at 220 behind Newton senior Wyatt Hendrickson and St. James Academy junior Cade Lautt, Willis is a three-time state qualifier and a two-time state finalist. In 2017 he was a state champion and in ’18 he finished runner-up with a 39-2 overall record.

Willis currently stands at 25-2 on the season - with both losses coming to Lautt - and his career record is 137-16. He wrestled at 220 each of the last three seasons after opening his high school career at 195.

Bonner Springs currently ranks fifth in the absolutely loaded 5A team rankings trailing Goddard, Ark City, Maize and Blue Valley Southwest.

The Braves have three other wrestlers currently ranked with sophomore Derek Duffett in third at 106, senior Joe Tapia in fourth at 152 and senior Zane DeLeon in fifth at 182.

Bonner Springs coach Brandon Jobe called Willis, a year-round wrestler who doesn’t play other sports, a “blessed athlete” who excels “on the mat as well as the weight room” and “shows excellent leadership skills.” 

Willis is a two-year team captain who wrestles Freestyle and Greco Roman outside of the high school season.

“He's very competitive, and has a rare drive to win every time he competes,” Jobe said. “He's willing to stay late, or come early in the morning to get extra work in, and help younger guys put in extra work.”

We caught up with Willis earlier this week to get an update on his season and future plans, but first, check out some of his season highlights in this Hudl video.



Q&A with Caleb Willis:

Q. You are one of the best wrestlers in Kansas. What does it take to perform at such a high level on a weekly basis?

A. To continue to perform on a high level constantly I work on my mistakes and areas I can improve my wrestling while training my mind and body to be able to compete. I also tell myself my goals and what I need to do to achieve them.

Q. What do you love about wrestling?

A. I love the fact that anyone can wrestle. You don’t have to be athletically gifted to be good. You just have to want it and work hard.

Q. What are some things you do to stay in such excellent physical condition with your diet and exercise plan?

A. In my diet, I cut out sweets and pop and unnecessary sugars. I feel the best way to stay in peak shape is to wrestle, so I hit the mat is much as possible with plenty of CrossFit.

Q. Who are a couple opponents you've most enjoyed wrestling during your high school career?

A. I enjoyed wrestling Devon Spexarth, Cameron Hunt, also Cole Edwards.

Q. Do you plan to wrestle collegiately?

A. I do plan on wrestling at the next level and currently undecided where I will continue my career. I currently have an offer from Fort Hays State.

Q. What is your favorite subject in school? What would you like to study in college and do as a career once you're done with your education?

A. My favorite subject in school is Anatomy, I plan to study Exercise Science and be a Physical Therapist.

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