Wrestlers secure second-place at league
Satisfied with a runner-up team finish at the Kaw Valley League Wrestling Championships on Saturday, Tonganoxie coach Bill DeWitt reminisced about where his squad used to be.
"Three or four years ago, we were finishing at the bottom," DeWitt said. "I'm pleased with today's performance. We're in the right direction."
The Chieftains placed second with 161 points, five ahead of host Basehor-Linwood. Santa Fe Trail won the KVL title with 202 points. Individually, Tonganoxie placed 12 wrestlers out of the 14 weight classes, giving the Chieftains a solid opportunity at the league title.
"You have to hope for us to wrestle out of our mind, walk on water once or twice and then to have (Santa Fe Trail) to have a couple screw ups," DeWitt said about his team's chances. "They just don't screw up. That's why they took second at state last year.
"That's where we want to be and we're closing the gap."
Helping the Chieftains close that gap has meant gradually making strides since DeWitt took over the program in 1998. Tonganoxie finished the season with an 8-3-1 record, including a 4-2-1 mark in the KVL. The squad also earned their fifth top-four tournament finish.
Tonganoxie seniors Will Altman (140) and Mike Andrews (160) came away with first-place medals, while finishing runner-up were sophomores Andrew Miller (189), James Hartshorn (215) and senior Tony Miller (275).
Altman won by fall over Santa Fe Trail's Brian Averill, while Andrews earned a decision again Vince Dumarest of Lansing.
Placing third for the Chieftains were Josh Ferris (135), Steve Adcox (145) and Matt Weyer (171). Chad Starcher (103), Travis Andrews (112), Lance Thompson (119), Pat Weyer (152) all took fourth place.
"We're eliminating mistakes as we go, but we've just got to turn the corner with a couple of kids," DeWitt said. "They're starting to peak at the right time."
This weekend, the Tonganoxie wrestling team will travel to Holton for the two-day Class 4A Regional Tournament. Among the 15 teams competing at the Regional are KVL schools Basehor-Linwood, Kansas City-Piper, Lansing and Perry-Lecompton.
Regional first-round action will start at 2 p.m. Friday and continue at 11 a.m. Saturday. The championship finals begin at 6:30 p.m.
Team scores: 1. Santa Fe Trail, 202; 2. Tonganoxie, 161; 3. Basehor-Linwood, 155; 4. Piper, 123.5; 5. Lansing, 97.5; 6. Mill Valley/DeSoto, 81; 7. Perry-Lecompton, 29.5; 8. Immaculata, 1.
103 Marcus Waters, Lansing, def. Brett Yates, Mill Valley/DeSoto, by fall.
112 Cody Betsworth, Santa Fe Trail, def. Chris Roe, Piper, by fall.
119 Cole Betsworth, Santa Fe Trail, def. Frankie Losensky, Piper, by fall.
125 Tim Morgan, Basehor-Linwood, def. Charlie Fulton, Santa Fe Trail, by fall.
130 Jeremy Connelly, Santa Fe Trail, def. Joe Bell, Basehor-Linwood, by fall.
135 Travis McBurney, Santa Fe Trail, def. Jeremy Johnson, Piper, by dec.
140 Will Altman, Tonganoxie, def. Brian Averill, Santa Fe Trail, by fall.
145 Matt Dukes, Basehor-Linwood, def. Troy Baird, Santa Fe Trail, by fall.
152 Brandon Buck, Basehor-Linwood, def. Ryan Temple, Santa Fe Trail, by dec.
160 Mike Andrews, Tonganoxie, def. Vince Dumarest, Lansing, by dec.
171 Ryan Babbitt, Santa Fe Trail, def. Eric Pingleton, Mill Valley/DeSoto, by dec.
189 Aaron Rinehart, Perry-Lecompton, def. Andrew Miller, Tonganoxie, by fall.
215 Zach Davies, Piper, def. James Hartshorn, Tonganoxie, by fall.
275 Matt Gillett, Basehor-Linwood, def. Tony Miller, Tonganoxie, 3-2.