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Wrestling: 5A boys preview

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Maize hopes to unseat powerhouse Goddard at the top of 5A

  • Left: Maize junior Kyle Haas is among the top-ranked wrestlers in the country. (Photo by Dan Loving); Right: Aquinas junior Jared Simma enters the season ranked number one at 160. (Photo by Lindsay Habben)
    Left: Maize junior Kyle Haas is among the top-ranked wrestlers in the country. (Photo by Dan Loving); Right: Aquinas junior Jared Simma enters the season ranked number one at 160. (Photo by Lindsay Habben)

*Kansas Pregame will release its second annual Winter Preview late next 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.

Led by Oklahoma State commit and arguably the No. 1 overall wrestler in the state, junior Kyle Haas – by some outlets the best heavyweight recruit in the country – MAIZE enters the season as the favorite to win the Class 5A title after finishing fourth this past season.

Haas is expected to move up to 220 after winning the 182 title a year ago, but he’s not the only one with lofty expectations as a trio of his teammates begin the season ranked No. 1 -- Cayden Hughbanks (132), Devin Gomez (152) and Nebraska-commit Duwayne Villalpando (182).

Gomez is looking to repeat at 152 after a perfect 50-0 season and Villalpando, who was the 2018 152-pound champion, is seeking to get back to the top of the podium after moving up to 182.

Nakaylen Shabazz (5th at 106), Junior Camacho (No. 2 at 113), Keton Patterson (No. 6 at 120) and Carson Wheeler (No. 3 at 160) gives the Eagles eight total ranked wrestlers to begin the season.

GODDARD, winners of five consecutive 5A state championships, comes in at No. 2 in the preseason rankings and looks to continue their winning tradition.

The good news is coach Brett Means returns nine state qualifiers from a year ago and Devin Dawson, who moved in from Georgia and placed at state. The bad news is it has to replace the production of Troy Fisher, now wrestling at Northwestern University in the Big 10.

The keys to Goddard’s success will be staying healthy and having the newcomers step up.

Two-time state champion Jason Henschel is expected to move up to 120 pounds where he’ll begin No. 1. Nolan Craine (170) also begins the season ranked first and is looking to get to the podium after a third-place finish as a freshman and a runner-up showing last year as a sophomore.

Trevor Dopps (No. 2 at 182) has improved every year since his freshman season. If the trajectory remains the same, he could be the champ, but Maize’s Villalpando could stand in the way.

Goddard checks in behind Maize with seven individuals ranked in the preseason, which also includes Jayden Miller (No. 6 at 106), Jerrdon Fisher (No. 3 at 138), Logan Davidson (No. 5 at 145), Jace Fisher (No. 2 at 152) and Cayleb Atkins (No. 2 at 160). 

BLUE VALLEY SOUTHWEST returns two state champions in Hayden Mills (No. 1 at 113)and Brandon Madden (No. 1 at 145) and two runners-up in Brett Umentum (No. 3 at 126) and Seth Nitzel (No. 3 at 182)

“Last season we ended with a school record seven total state placers and were able to capture our first team trophy in school history,” coach Cody Parks said. “We are looking forward to some junior varsity wrestlers stepping up and filling the shoes of graduating seniors. The key to success this season is our ability to improve every week.”

The Timberwolves also return Daniel McMullen (152), Jackson McCall (No. 2 at 170), Awni Alazzeh (195) and Mack Hubbel (220).

Staying in the Eastern Kansas League, ST. THOMAS AQUINAS continues its climb to the top of Class 5A as its enjoyed three consecutive top 10 finishes including a fifth place finish last year.

“We will look to once again improve upon our previous performances and crack the top three this year,” coach Eric Akin said. “Another goal we believe we can reach is to have multiple individual state champions this season.”

The Saints have seven state qualifiers returning including four state placers. Johnny Akin (No. 1 at 138), Jared Simma (No. 1 at 160) and Peyton Reeves (No. 2 at 285) are in position to help reach the goal of multiple individual champions. 

Jordan Habben (No. 4 at 106), Dylan Elmore (No. 6 at 145), Tommy Carroll (No. 5 at 195) along with Zach Kalafut (113) and Danny Carroll (220) give the Saints a shot at placing in the top three. 

GREAT BEND, which finished sixth last year, heads into 2019-20 ranked fifth and has set high expectations for itself.

“We will need to continue building on previous year's success and not be satisfied with what we have accomplished so far,” coach Nathan Broeckelman said. “As long as we stay healthy, we are looking to make school history this year.”

The Panthers return seven state qualifiers including six state placers. They will be led by Carysn Schooler (138) and Gage Fritz (145) who both come in ranked second in their weights in the preseason. Schooler was a runner-up last year while Fritz finished third.

Alex Randolph, who placed fourth at state last year comes in at No. 4 at 160 pounds. Wyatt Weber (120) Drew Liles (132) and George Weber (152) each finished sixth last year and will start this year fifth, sixth and third, respectively.

Avery Wolf, who qualified last year, will start at No. 6 at 113. There is a battle brewing at 106 between Kaden Spragis and Brantley Baldwin – each have varsity experience.

The Panthers also welcome Toby West from Oklahoma where he was a state qualifier at 120. 

Perennial title contenders ARK CITY must replace the production of two state champions in Gabe Buckbee and Montez Robinson, who are both at Niagra, in addition to three additional talented wrestlers.

Greg Buckbee said the success of his team is dependent on the upperclassmen “accepting the challenge and stepping up to be great leaders.”

“Another key and challenge for us is going to be if our young athletes and inexperienced junior varsity wrestlers can step up and into varsity roles and make an impact,” Buckbee said. “We have a lot of unknowns this year, which should make for an exciting season in Bulldog land.”

A trio of third-place finishers return in Deston Miller (No. 1 at 195), Kael Pappan (No. 3 at 120) and Trig Tennent (No. 3 at 145). Maximus Shannon is ranked third at 285 after finishing sixth at state last year.

“Wyatt Bahm is a talented freshman who could step into the varsity line up in the middle weights for us,” Buckbee said. “Junior Samuel Dickey has been a starter for us in the past and should make some noise in the lower weights.”

McPHERSON coach Doug Kretzer thinks this should be a very good year for his squad.

The Bullpups are ranked seventh in the preseason and welcome back 12 starters, which includes six state qualifiers led by 2018 champion Rhett Edmonson (No. 4 at 145).

McPherson is talented in the upper weights as Jonah Clarke (No. 3 at 170), Landon Frantz (No. 4 at 182) and Mason Thrash (No. 3 at 220) have title aspirations. Frantz and Thrash placed third and fourth, respectively, last year. Landon Crews (No. 4 at 138) took sixth in state last year.

Because of how talented 5A is, the Bullpups will need Landon Vogts (106), Lorenzo Cruzen (113) and Neil Raymond (152) to take the next step and qualify for state.

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NEWTON is looking to improve upon last year’s ninth place finish and will be led by Navy commit Grant Treaster, who begins the year No. 2 at 120 after winning the title last year. 

Colin Bybee is ranked third in 106 and the pressure is on freshman AB Stokes to perform as he comes into the season ranked third in 113.

LANSING cracks the top 10 at No. 9 and is led by Hartwell Taylor (No. 2 at 132).

Camden Maestas put on 20 pounds and will wrestle at 126 where he begins the year fifth after wrestling at 106 a year ago. Other ranked Lions include Jacob McLain (No. 4 at 152) and Dylan Ward (No. 6 at 195).

Lansing’s United Kansas Conference foe BASEHOR-LINDWOOD rounds out the top 10 with Dawson Lamberg (No, 4 at 113), Kaden Jacobson (No. 5 at 152) and Josh Willcutt (No. 3 at 195) leading the charge. 

The Bobcats also return Brayton Olesen, Cohen Suchy, Zachary Radefeld and Hunter Parish.

The state championship match everybody should be rooting for is ST. JAMES’ Cade Lautt (No. 2 at 220) against Maize’s Haas. Lautt, a University of North Carolina commit and Kansas Pregame coverboy, is a three-time state placer and was an All-American at Junior Nationals Freestyle and Greco last summer. 

Along with Lautt, coach Mike Medina will have 10 additional returners from a season ago. 

“Without graduating any seniors last season, we hope to be a more solid team top to bottom this year,” Medina said. “Many got varsity experience last season and spent time in the room during the offseason, so we hope to fill a full varsity squad for the first time in a few years.”

The Thunder return two-time state qualifier and Eastern Kansas League champion Isaac Stean (195), two-time state qualifier Harry Spencer (No. 4 at 285), state qualifiers Jack Steinlage (132) and Danny Feist (138), in addition to Jackson Medina (145), Max Schemmel (113), Angel Miranda (120), Aidan Quinn (160), Clayton Hall (152) and Matt Wood (126).

SEAMAN returns nine from a squad that finished 24th at state a season ago. 

Dylan Williams (No. 5 at 160) returns for his senior after finishing fifth at state a year ago at 160. He needs 26 wins to reach the century mark. Teammate Landon Willard (145) is also closing in on 100 career wins and only needs 21 to reach that. 

Also returning is Cameron Smith (132), Austin Lady (113), Baily Meredith (152), Blake Smith (170), Ezra Shove (220), Chandler Buessing (120) and Kyle Adams (113). 

SALINA CENTRAL finished 10th last year and returns five state qualifiers include third-place finisher Slade Adam (No. 4 at 120) and fourth-place finisher Elix Hernandez (No. 5 at 132). 

Coach John Corman, who takes over for Shannon Peters, has two talented freshmen joining the squad in Isaac Phimvongsa and Dawson Hogan who came through the Mustangs’ kids program.

"They will probably wrestle some of the lower weight classes where we have lots of talent already,” Corman said. 

The Mustangs also bring back state qualifiers Kray True (138), Cayman Munson (152) and Cooper Chard (160).

“We are going to win a lot of matches this year and we have a lot of talented kids that we hope can take that next step and become true champions,” Corman said.

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

BONNER SPRINGS finished seventh at state last year and could take a step back this season after losing nine to graduation.

The Braves do bring back four state qualifiers in Cruz Lara (No. 2 at 126), Cassius Vanderpool (No. 3 at 132) and Peyton Richardson (120) and Xavier Seaton (138).

“We need the sophomores and junior class to step up and fill varsity weights,” coach Brandon Jobe said.

The key to EISENHOWER’s success will be the leadership of its returning three state qualifiers – Taylor Matthews (126), Mason Levin (152) and Derek Yuza (No. 6 at 285). 

VALLEY CENTER welcomes Justin Schwartz to the helm, who has five state qualifiers returning.

“I’m looking forward to both the five returning state qualifiers and the young group of freshmen coming in working to progress far into the state tournament this year,” Schwartz said. 

Tony Caldwell begins as the No. 1 ranked wrestler at 285 after finishing second last year. Alyeus Craig (No. 4 at 126), Ben Carver (113), Dallas Gould (195), and Quentin Kirk (138) are all returning state qualifiers this year.

SALINA SOUTH will be balanced between upperclassmen and freshman. 

Coach Kanean Wendell said he has several freshmen he’s excited about. 

“It’ll take a year or so to get them ready to compete at the varsity level, but they have a lot of upside.” Wendell said. “Our returning varsity wrestlers bring experience and leadership we hope to build on from last year. If we can develop our freshmen quickly, we could have more success as a dual team.”

The Cougars bring back state qualifiers Carson Ochoa (No. 6 at 126), Caleb Copeland (152) and Brandon Jeffries (170)

SHAWNEE HEIGHTS returns three state qualifiers in Brock Ferguson (No. 5 at 113), Zach Gonzales (No. 6 at 160) and Caden Walker (unranked at 145).

Coach Chad Parks said the key to success will be to work hard, have fun, and improve daily in three areas: "Mentally, Physically and Spiritually.”

PITTSBURG has nowhere to go but up after finishing last at state. However, the Purple Dragons return state qualifiers Blayne Anderson (132), Jesse Stover (170), Zane Decker (195) and Caleb Redd (220) while welcoming two-time Arkansas state qualifier Kadeyn Dixon (145).

The goals for Pittsburg include a top three finish in the league, top 10 finish at regionals and top 20 at state.

KC WASHINGTON returns Kamarae Williamson (106), Xavier Lewis (120), Jordan Thompson (132) and Blake Mullikin (160).

KC SUMNER is an extremely young team, with only two seniors. 

“For most of our squad, this will be their first or at best second year of wrestling,” coach Adam Beatty said. “This year will be about helping them continue to develop and start pushing matches in our direction. For the first time in my three years we will see more than two people compete back-to-back years, six members of last-year’s varsity squad are back for the boys.”

The Sabres non-freshmen are B.J. Keith (120), Kaeten Robbins (126), Prince Orji (145), Andrew Bristow (152), Joel Sanchez (160), Michael Shultz (170), Erick Jaquez (182) and Tolulope Adejo (220).

*Kansas Pregame will release its second annual Winter Preview late next 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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