Archive for Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Wichita wrestlers

THS is eighth at regionals, sends four to State

February 20, 2002

Tonganoxie freshman Andy Koontz had a short but important "to do" list Saturday at a 4A regional in Basehor.

1. Eat some cake.

2. Go to State.

Koontz, who turned 15 on Saturday, became a State qualifier that night after taking second in the 103-pound class.

The top four placers advance to State in Wichita, which begins Friday.

"It was a pretty good birthday present to go to State," Koontz said. "I just wish I could've done better."

Koontz (22-6) was actually close to staying perfect on the day and capturing first place. The freshman had a 4-1 lead against Concordia's Ty Gennette early and seemed to be in control, but the momentum started to shift and, with a 5-4 lead and 38 seconds left in the match, Gennette earned a pin and the title.

"I slipped off the cradle," Koontz said.

State will be a first-time event for many of the 103-pound wrestlers. Koontz is one of seven freshmen competing in that division. Throw in eight sophomores, and only one upperclassman will compete junior Zach Freisberg from Caney Valley.

Koontz will have some Tonganoxie company in the Kansas Coliseum. Fellow freshman Ross Starcher (32-7 in the 112-pound class), senior Pat Weyer (21-15 in 160) and junior James Hartshorn (29-7 in 215) also qualified for State.

The Chieftains took seventh as a team at regionals with 79 points, but THS coach Bill DeWitt saw chances or more points and more qualifiers.

"We had seven guys who were a match away from State and only four of them went," DeWitt said. "That was a poor job on my part."

Seniors Steve Adcox and Josh Ferris, both State qualifiers last year, fell a match short, as did junior Andrew Miller. Chad Starcher also qualified last year, but also won't return this season.

"I feel sorry for some of my kids," DeWitt said. "I didn't necessarily think they wrestled all that bad."

Overall, Clay Center won the tournament with 204.5 points, while Concordia and Marysville were second and third with 185 and 151.5 points respectively. All three teams hail from the North Central Kansas League. Fellow Kaw Valley League member Basehor-Linwood was fourth with 148.5.

State kicks off at 9 a.m. Friday, and for the four Chieftains competing, no one's more ready than Weyer.

"Last year I was the only upperclassmen who didn't make it," Weyer said. "This year I basically came back and redeemed myself."

Weyer grabbed the fourth and final spot in the 160-pound class after losing to Clay Center's Derek Corral in the consolation finals.

In the 189-pound class, Hartshorn finished off Marysville's Kode Pacha with a 12-5 decision. The win gave Hartshorn a third-place finish, but the junior was looking to compete in the finals.

"I wish I could've done better, but I'm happy I made it to State," Hartshorn said.

The Chieftains' fourth representative is no stranger to state competitions. Starcher competed in six state tournaments at the youth level and will now jump to the high school level as a freshman.

Starcher dropped his consolation final against 30-2 Marcus Waters from Lansing, losing a close decision, 6-4.

The freshman had a nonchalant assessment of his qualifying performance.

"Yeah, I wrestled all right," Starcher said.

Classes 6A through 4A will compete in Wichita, with 672 wrestlers set to participate. Fort Hays State's Busch-Gross Coliseum will be the site for Class 3-2-1A action.

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