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Wrestling: 3-2-1A boys preview

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  • The Eureka community celebrated the high school's first state title in any sport after the team won the 2019 3-2-1A wrestling championship in February. (Photo courtesy Robin Wunderlich, The Eureka Herald)
    The Eureka community celebrated the high school's first state title in any sport after the team won the 2019 3-2-1A wrestling championship in February. (Photo courtesy Robin Wunderlich, The Eureka Herald)

*Kansas Pregame will release its second annual Winter Preview late this week. This year we're trying something new by releasing some of our preview coverage of basketball and wrestling online prior to the release of our complete digital edition of the magazine, followed the second week of December by distribution of hard copies. Follow along here and on social media for complete distribution details. COACHES, don't see your team listed or have updates to your lineup? Email us details at pregamequestionnaires@gmail.com. Note: Girls' wrestling, in its first season as a KSHSAA sanctioned sport, will be featured in an all-class preview.

Rankings, results, state records and more. Find it online at www.KansasWrestling.org.

Last season, Eureka became the first 3-2-1A eastern school to win state since 2001. Colby took second, and Norton third. Eureka won the first athletic state championship in any sport. However, the Tornadoes graduated their twin brothers and state champions in Kolby and Kendall Beitz. KSHSAA will have updated classifications prior to Christmas. Scott City, Colby and Burlington could move to 4A or stay in 3-2-1A.

Additionally, three key wrestlers are likely out for some, if not all of the season. Lakin senior Hadley Panzer, a Kansas State football commit, went undefeated at 285 pounds and suffered a football injury. He is expected to miss the season. Smith Center's Jaden Atwood was injured in the second half of the Redmen's semifinal win over Plainville, and is a two-time state placer. Hoisington 285-pounder Riley Philbern is ranked fourth, but a knee injury, also in football, will likely keep him out the entire season.

In the state rankings, Smith Center stands first, followed by Hoxie, Norton, Hoisington and Colby. The back half of the top-10 is Rossville, Beloit, Eureka, WaKeeney-Trego and Riverside.

The No. 1-ranked wrestlers are Colby sophomore Tyler Knox (106), Rossville senior Zach Archer (113), Jayhawk-Linn senior Brody White (120), Silver Lake junior Kai Allen (126), Hoxie senior Dylan Weimer (132), Atwood at 138, Fredonia senior Matt Weilert (145), and Eureka junior Brennan Lowe (152).

The higher weights feature top-ranked junior Tate Seabolt (160), Plainville senior Jordan Finnesy (170), Smith Center senior Brell Spiess (182), Hoisington senior Wyatt Pedigo (195), Osage City junior Dane Whalen (220) and Beloit senior Creighton Johnson (285).

Allen, Weimer, Lowe, Finnesy and Pedigo are defending state champions. Pedigo is a two-time state titlist.

Here's a look at all the teams we received questionnaires from in alphabetical order:

ATWOOD-RAWLINS COUNTY 19th year coach Scott Urban has a significant number of returners. Sophomore Jose Paz (113), junior Alex Paz (120), sophomore Cade Migchelbrink (138), junior Kendrick Woody (152), junior Eddie Hanson (160), sophomore Ashton Bearley (170), sophomore Preston Bearley (182), sophomore Conner Finley (195), junior Cyrus Green (220) and senior Harrison Colgan (285) are all back. Woody was sixth at state in 145.

BLUESTEM has third-year coach Nash Burtin. The Lions finished 2-5 in dual matches. Sophomore Bailey Fiebiger returns at 152, and junior Jonathan McAmis is expected to start at 182. They combined for a 15-37 record.

“We will struggle again, due to numbers,” Burtin said. “Overall, last season was not good, but some individuals made some strides toward the end of the year. We didn’t qualify anyone to State, so improving on that is the number one priority.”

BURLINGAME coach Doug Bingham is in his 15th year at the school. Osage City and Burlingame co-op for in wrestling, and Osage City junior Dane Whalen (220) is a two-time state qualifier and has a fifth-place showing at state. Elijah Collins is a returning state qualifier. Bingham said the team goals are to improve throughout the season and peak at regionals and state and said staying healthy is the team's key to success.

For BREWSTER, coach Chris Allen is in his fourth year at the school and 28th overall. The Bulldogs return three wrestlers: 195-pounder Ryan Hause, Brandon Kenny at 138, and Colten Palmer at 145. Allen said the team goals are to qualify a wrestler for state and improve records. He listed dedication as the team's key to success.

BELLEVILLE-REPUBLIC COUNTY has 285-pounder Eyann Zimmerman, the 285-pound defending state runner-up at 39-5. He is ranked second at 285. Junior Kaleb Talkington was fifth at state with a 36-8 mark. He is projected at 126 pounds. Sophomore Andrew Hubert (30-18) is a state qualifier and is projected at 160/170. Sophomore Jonathon Dyke (18-15) is a state qualifier and projected at 113. Adam Polansky is the head coach.

BELOIT 34th year coach Andy Niemczyk posted another strong year with a 7-1 record in  duals, third at regionals and 11th at state. Junior Cooper Adams (106), junior Mason Fuller (113), sophomore Connor Cosand (120), Tristan Thompson (126), junior Asa Carr (132), sophomore Tate Kadel (138), junior Landon Kadel (145), junior Hunter Prochaska (152), sophomore Brennan Walker (170), sophomore Cameron Konkel (182), sophomore Braden Burks (195) and senior Creighton Johnson (285) return. Kadel finished 35-8 and was fourth at state at 132. Johnson was 36-9 and third at state at 220 pounds.

“We have a young team with a lot of talent,” Niemczyk said. “As a dual team, we will fill the weights and be fairly tough. Tournament wise, we will get better as the season progresses. Barring injuries, I feel we could make a run as a top-three finisher in Class 3-2-1A.”

CENTRAL HEIGHTS second-year coach Jeffery Meyer returns one starter: junior 132-pounder Cass Burroughs.

CHAPARRAL sixth-year coach Jeff Green led the Roadrunners to an 8-5 dual record. Jarrett Angle (138), Brian Escobar (132), Joe Ord (126), Eric Helms (170), and Austin Muller (152) are back. Green said the Roadrunners' goals are league and regional champions, and said practice is the team's key.

CHASE COUNTY returns four starters: junior 126-pounder Trint Rogers, freshman 145-pounder Mitch Budke, junior 152-pounder Cory Owen, and senior 170-pounder Cael Budke. Notably, Budke is a two-time state qualifier at 145 in '18, and 160 in '19. Budke has committed to Emporia State football, has 74 career victories and is a seven-time tournament finalist. Budke's goal is to earn a state medal.

Rogers (31-10) had two tournament championships and had a pair of wins against state medalists. Rogers was a win away from the state tournament. Freshman 145-pounder Mitch Budke was a kids' state wrestling medalist in freestyle and folkstyle. Junior 152-pounder Cory Owens was a returning state qualifier.

COLBY 14th year coach Matt Sims led the Eagles to a state runner-up behind Eureka. Colby returns 11 wrestlers, including five wrestlers with state qualification. Sophomore 113-pounder Aiden Cook (29-16) was a state qualifier at 120. Sophomore Tyler Voss (40-8) was third at 106.

Senior 170-pounder Cade Lanning went 24-21 and was sixth at 152. Junior Hagan Booi was second at 195 with a 39-7 record. Heavyweight Declan Ryan was a state qualifier with a 30-15 mark. Sophomore 126-pounder Keden Frahm (23-14), senior 145-pounder Konnor Griffen (24-16), junior 152-pounder Wyatt Tubbs (20-20), and senior 220-pounder Rowdy Farr (12-12) are all back.

“We will need to work hard to replace the three seniors from last season,” Sims said. “This year's team is still a young team, but returns a lot of varsity experience from last year. The team will continue to improve as the season moves along improving on last year's season and performances.”

In late November coach Sims said his squad could end up competing in 4A.

Dusty Rhodes, in his 38th year at DOUGLASS, led the Bulldogs to a Central Plains League champions, a regional runner-up and 20th place finish at state. Douglass has a number of returners: senior Dakota Tireman (113), senior Zacharis Lough (126), sophomore Kaden Small (132), senior Tre Karagainis (138), sophomore Matthew Reynolds (145), junior Charles Pearson (152), sophomore Dalton Hilyard (160), sophomore Jace High (170), freshman Wade Morgan (182), Clayton Elliott (195), senior Isaiah Wasson (220), and Joe Martin at 285.

Lough and Reynolds were third place at regional, and Isaiah Wasson was fourth at 220. Rhodes has goals to win league, regional and state tournament and has the team key as hard work.

ELLSWORTH senior Tyler Walford is ranked fifth at 285 at wrestled tough matches with Republic County's Eyann Zimmerman last season. He was 31-5 entering the state tournament and went 1-2 losing to Panzer in the second round and then Chaparral's Jaden Eslinger. He pinned eventual state runner-up Zimmerman en route to winning the 285-pound class at the North Central Activities Association league tournament. With Zimmerman, Johnson and Walford the 285-pound class the NCAA is stacked.

Returning senior Morgan Kelley also qualified for state at 145 but went 0-2. He is joined by several other returning seniors with varsity experience.

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ERIE's Will Weber has served as the Red Devils' coach for five years. Erie returns three weights, all sophomores: Drayton Kennedy (113), Nate Thompson (120) and Quinten Heady (126). All three were state qualifiers.

EUREKA coach Mike Davison led the Tornadoes to the first boys' team athletic state championship in school history. Eureka graduated state titlists, and twins, Kolby and Kendall Beitz. Junior Connor Hughes, sophomore Brody Harrison (145), junior Brennan Lowe (152), junior Brent Escareno (160), and sophomore Garrison Spoonts (170) return. Hughes (25-15) was a state qualifier, while Lowe is a two-time state qualifier and defending state champion. Escareno (40-5) is a two-time state qualifier and defending state runner-up. Spoonts is a state qualifier.

“Our team goals are to continue to grow as a unit, and build off of last year's success,” Davison said. “We want to win league, hopefully in both the boys and girls divisions, and represent our school well at the state tournaments. We need to pride ourselves on our work ethic, and try and have as much fun as possible along the way.”

ELL-SALINE's Norm Jennings is in his first year as a high school head coach after three seasons at middle school. Senior 285-pounder Noah Hopkins (16-15) leads five returners, four boys and one girl. Jennings said remaining healthy is the team's key.

“Increase the number of state qualifiers,” Jennings said of team goals. “Continue to build a competitive team and increase the number of participants. Build a solid foundation for our girls' team. Enjoy the season as a family!”

GARDEN PLAIN coach Joe Gassmann is in his fourth year at the school. GP returns eight wrestlers: Logan Albers (106), Jeremiah Nowak (113), Chance Fortune (126), Elliot Helten (138), Gabe Gordon (145), Teagen Doerr (152), Jeb Nowak (160), and Tranden Daerr (170). Nowak and Daerr are both returning state qualifiers.

FREDONIA first-year head coach Brent Trujillo has four returners. Senior Matt Weilert is a two-time state qualifier who was sixth in '18 and third last year. Weilert was 36-8 last year. Junior Bo Tindle (19-21) is at 152 and sophomore Taron Ward (17-14) is at 160. Junior Buddy Claibourn is a returning state qualifier with a 26-10 mark at 170.

“We want to have our upperclassmen continue to build on their success, while mentoring our younger kids,” Trujillo said of the team's keys and goals. “With strong showings from our upperclassmen and good development from a talented group of underclassmen, we expect to be competitive wherever we go. Wrestling to our ability, developing our talent, and being disciplined on and off the mat.”

GOODLAND coach Joe Sramek is in his 14th year at the school. The Cowboys went 8-13 in duals and took 11th at regional. Sophomore D.J. Knox (106) went 37-12 and was state runner-up. Junior 126-pounder Brody Kaup (14-15) was a state qualifier. Senior 195-pounder Dawson Holub went 28-20 and was a state qualifer.

“We will be a young team and our key to success will be our attitude and willingness to improve everyday as the season progresses,” Sramek said.

HALSTEAD's Chris Wilson is in his sixth season at the school, fourth as head coach. The Dragons have sophomore Patrick Mueller (138), junior Ivan Gutierrez (145), junior Carter Hiebert (152), junior Kaden Hill (160), junior Kaden Lopez (195) and Cole Herman (285). Hiebert is a returning state qualifier with a 24-16 record, and Herman was hurt last year. Freshmen Skyler Geer (126) and Kaleb Wise (182) are expected to be key wrestlers.

“I thought that last year our team, which consisted of mostly freshmen/sophomores competed well against older kids in varsity matches,” Wilson said. “With more experience now, I look for our juniors to step up as leaders and have a big year. We have a solid group of juniors that have wrestled together since junior high that push each other and continue to get better.”

HILLSBORO coach Scott O'Hare is in 17th year as head coach and has a career record of 102-92. The Trojans went 3-5 in dual competition, took seventh in league and ninth at regionals. Junior Jordan Bachman (34-10) was fourth at state at 138 pounds. Sophomore Tristan Rathbone (24-19) was a state qualifier at 145. Lone senior Andre Patton went 24-16 at 160 at Canton-Galva, which co-ops with Hillsboro. Hillsboro will have just one senior and returns seven of eight varsity wrestlers.

“I am anticipating that this team will be very coachable and willing to work hard to improve,” O'Hare said. “We need to get great leadership from our senior and experienced junior group.”

HOISINGTON's Dan Schmidt is in his 23rd season as head coach the school. The Cardinals went 5-0 in duals, took second at regionals and ninth at state. Hoisington returns state champion Wyatt Pedigo at 182 pounds, along with 13 of its 14 regional participants, and all five state qualifiers.

“We also will return a state qualifier from the year before that was injured the last meet of the season, and was unable to wrestle in the postseason,” coach Schmidt said. “We thought that he would have been a state placer if not for injury.”

HOXIE coach Mike Porsch is in his 14th year as head coach. The Indians graduated four-time champion Dayton Porsch, now at Northern Iowa, from a team that finished in third place at state. Senior Dylan Weimer will likely compete at 138 after he was the defending state champion at 132.

Sophomore Drew Bell will wrestle at 126 after he was fourth at state at 120. Junior Aidan Baalman was fourth at 145 and will compete at 152. Andrew Foote (160), Donovan Baluch (182), Kaden Sekevac (220) and Brandon Baker (285) are returning wrestlers.

“Our returners need to pick up where they left off, and our incoming freshmen need to make the adjustment to high school wrestling fairly quickly to be in position to peak in February,” coach Porsch said.

HORTON is in its second year having wrestling after a seven-year hiatus.

LAKIN coach Jim Christiansen in his third year as head coach. However, senior Hadley Panzer, a Kansas State football commit, will miss the year because of a football injury after a 39-0 season and 2019 state championship at 285 pounds. Senior 182-pounder Kayden Christiansen was 27-9. Junior Kade Lovelady (160), senior Jonathan Ortiz (138), and senior Nathan Reimer (113) are back.

The cooperative of LINCOLN-SYLVAN-LUCAS has one senior, Jerry Marinhagen, after two-time state qualifier Chantz Vath opted not to wrestle for his senior season. S-L has a pair of juniors with Marshall Hurlbut and Tra Barrientes, the latter a two-time state qualifier at 220 pounds.

MISSION VALLEY has coach Josh Parker, in his sixth year at the school, second as head coach. Senior Shelby Kesler is a three-time state placer and was third place at 126. Junior 285-pounder Nolan Parker (30-10) was a state qualifier in '19. Sophomore Jon Grame (19-13) was also a state qualifier.

Chas Hauck in his fifth year as head coach at MINNEAPOLIS after a successful season that included three tournament titles and a second place showing at league. Minneapolis has sophomore Gage Carlson (113), junior Adam Reed (182), junior Keyon Baccus (195), Dayton Randall (126), Chase Anderson (160) and Brody Murk (152). Carlson is a returning state qualifier with a 27-15 record, while Randall is a two-time state qualifier, and Anderson is also a state qualifier.

Former OAKLEY standout Levi Younkin is in his first year as the Plainsmen head coach. Junior 138-pounder Eric Cain (26-15) is a returning state qualifier. Senior 145-pounder Aidan Stephenson is 27-10 and a two-time state qualifier. Younkin has a goal to have a top-10 finish at state.

“To have fun and enjoy the sport, hard work, and have great fundamentals,” Younkin said of the team's keys.

NORTON coach Bill Johnson is starting his 31st year with a 244-65 dual record. The Bluejays took third place at regionals and fourth place at state. Norton has nine returning starters. Sophomore 106-pounder Darius Shields was 32-14 and sixth at state. Senior Camdyn Unterseher went 27-10 and is a three-time state qualifier. Senior 160-pounder Brandon Vacura finished 31-10 and was sixth at state. Senior Cole Amlong finished 28-7 and finished second and fifth at state.

At 195, Judson Wiltfong (30-12) is a state qualifier. Junior 182-pounder Gavin Sproul (24-16) and senior 182-pounder Alex Auker (13-7) are both two-year varsity letterwinners. Norton graduated just two seniors from what coach Johnson called “a major rebuilding year.” Norton also suspended two wrestlers for the season.

This winter, Schields is ranked fourth at 106, Unterseher fifth at 126, Vacura is fifth at 160, Amlong second at 170, and Wiltfong third at 195.

“I felt we really matured as individuals and in wrestling skills last season,” Johnson said.  “Several of our kids really stepped up to the next level when the team needed them. At the start of the season, we were not even ranked in the top-10, and justifiably so. With another year of experience under our belts, and we look to improve on last season's state finish.”

OBERLIN-DECATUR COMMUNITY's Shane Bird is in his 14th overall season with the program, third as head coach. Oberlin has freshman Josh Juenemann (106), and eight returning weights: sophomore Corbin Wessel (113), sophomore Reece Grafel (120), sophomore Brecking Sauvage (126), senior Colton Ketterl (132), junior Alex Eskew (138), senior Dawson Kempt (145), senior Bryson Metcalf (152), and junior Gavon Uhelin (160) are back. Grafel went 28-7 and was fourth place at 106, while Sauvage, Ketterl, and Eskew were all state qualifiers. Kempt was injured in '19. Uhelin went 20-8 and fifth place at 160.

ONAGA third-year coach Chris Niehues has sophomores Kaid Schwant (140) and Riyln Mayginnes (182), along with four seniors: Trenton Cott (170), Kameron Henneberg (195), Tommy Kaberline (220) and Vincent Lara (285). Coach Niehues said the team would like to “get a few state qualifiers.”

“Leadership is hopefully a strong spot for us this year with a group of seniors,” Neihues said.

PHILLIPSBURG has a pair of key returners who will either wrestle at 132 or 138. Jacob Sisson was 29-6 and second place at 126. Aaron Lenker finished 23-8 and was a state qualifier. Rylan Hayes, at 285, finished 21-15 and was a state qualifier.

“Returning a two-time state finalist back in Jacob Sisson along with Aaron Lenker (state medalist and qualifier) and Rylan Hays (state qualifier),” coach Andy Kenney noted. “Also, returning six wrestlers with varsity experience, (we're) looking for this year’s team to make big strides on the varsity stage. We need to improve every day in the wrestling room with the little things and focus on one match at a time to reach the state competition.”

PLAINVILLE coach Ryan Becker returns three strong wrestlers with sophomores Ben Hansen and Jesse Mackey, both state qualifiers, and senior Jordan Finnesy, a defending state champion.

RILEY COUNTY first-year coach Jared Weatherhead returns junior 106-pounder Tyler Fief (23-19), junior 113-pounder J.R. Thelwell (27-17), junior 126-pounder Grayden Jackson (30-20) and senior 170-pounder Deon Barnes (26-14). They are all state qualifiers, while Jackson is a two-time state qualifier and took sixth place at 126 pounds last winter. Weatherhead has goals to win regionals and a top-five team at state.

“Being in the best shape possible and being aggressive on the mat,” Weatherhead said of the team's keys.

RIVERSIDE coach Tom Resler in his ninth year at the school. The Cyclones were 8-4 in duals and finished fifth at regionals. Beau Horn, who will wrestle at 138, finished 34-6 and was state runner-up. Luke Horn, at 152, went 35-7 and finished fifth. Quenton Barron, at 170, was 17-12 and a state qualifier.

“The Horn twins both have a chance to win state,” Resler said.

Chris Schaefer is in 20th year at the school, second season as head coach for SILVER LAKE. Senior 182-pounder Dawson Schwarz, senior 195-pounder Gideon Remer, sophomore 126-pounder Justin Rakestraw, and junior Kai Allen. Schwarz and Rakestraw are both returning state qualifiers and Remer is a three-time state qualifier. Allen is a two-time state qualifier, and won the state championship at 126 pounds. 

Schaefer's goals are to win regionals, win league and finish in the top-three at state. He said “good leadership” is the team's key.

RUSSELL second-year coach Dan Weigel, a former Plainville state champion, has four returning wrestlers: senior 120-pounder Stephan Baldwin, and sophomores Jacob Windholz, Jesse Whitmer and 285-pounder Max Self. Baldwin is a returning state qualifer.

“The goal for the Russell Broncos' 2019-20 season is to help these young student athletes, build character through the discipline of wrestling,” Weigel said.

SMITH CENTER coach Brock Hutchinson is in his 21st year as head coach. SC finished first at league, first at regionals and fifth at state. Senior Jaden Atwood, who suffered an injury at the end of football season that likely ended his high school wrestling career, went 38-10 at 138 pounds. He was fifth at state in '18, and third in '19. Senior Jacob Conrad finished 31-20 at 152, and was a state qualifier in '18 and fifth in '19. Senior Colton Shoemaker went 37-5 at 113, and was a state qualifier in '17, fifth in '18 and third in '19. Senior Brell Spiess went 32-20 at 182 and qualified for state at 182 and finished sixth in '19.

“We have a great opportunity to do well with the returnees that we have coming back mixed with a few wrestlers that are young, but have some kids' club experience,” Hutchinson said. “Usually with the younger athletes it takes half the season to adjust to high school wrestling. We are looking forward to the upcoming year and hopefully we can stay healthy.”

STOCKTON junior 120-pounder Markeis Spiller (12-10) took fourth place at state. Senior 132-pounder Trenton Howell was a state qualifier went 13-17.

TMP junior 126-pounder Kooper Hudsonpillar is the Monarchs' only returning wrestler with a winning record after a 10-8 mark. Third year coach Austin Tatro also welcomes back Matthew Vahling (132), Matthew Hess (145), Matthew Gottschalk (152), Jace Lang (160), Weston Pfeifer (170), Jeffrey Heiman (182) and Marcus Lagree (285) with varsity experience, but none posted more than five wins last season and three went winless.

Tatro's goals include having multiple state qualifiers and competing for a top five finish in the Mid-Continent League. Individually he wants each of his wrestlers to compete late into each match and "Work to get to the third period."

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UNIONTOWN returns three wrestlers: sophomore 152-pound Bryce Eck, senior 160-pound Colt Eck, junior 170-pounder Zach Franklin.

WAKEENEY-TREGO has three returning wrestlers, senior 160-pounder Colby Burkhart (33-10), senior 220-pounder Dillon Dunn (30-10) and senior 285-pounder Parker Opat (36-10). Dunn is a two-time state qualifier and finished sixth at 220. Opat was fourth at 285 last season.

WHITEWATER-REMINGTON coach Casey Gobel is in his fifth year for a team that took fourth at regionals. Junior Wyatt Wright (33-14) was a state qualifier at 120 pounds, while junior 152-pounder Owen Thiel (23-21) and junior 160-pounder Hagen Taylor (23-13) were also state qualifiers.

“We will have a young team that will be exciting to watch,” Gobel said. “Our juniors made big strides last year, and we will build on that.”

*Kansas Pregame will release its second annual Winter Preview late this week. This year we're trying something new by releasing some of our preview coverage of basketball and wrestling online prior to the release of our complete digital edition of the magazine, followed the second week of December by distribution of hard copies. Follow along here and on social media for complete distribution details. COACHES, don't see your team listed or have updates to your lineup? Email us details at pregamequestionnaires@gmail.com. Note: Girls' wrestling, in its first season as a KSHSAA sanctioned sport, will be featured in an all-class preview.

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