‘Meat’ of schedule next for THS
The Tonganoxie wrestling team will come back from the Christmas break with some of its tougher meets of the season.
The Chieftains travel to Basehor for duals against rival Basehor-Linwood (No. 10 in 4A) and Immaculata on Thursday, then head to the Salina South Invitational against ranked 6A opponents Manhattan, Junction City and defending state champion Wichita West, along with 4A powerhouse Spring Hill.
THS completes the stretch of three competitions in six days with duals at Perry against Perry-Lecompton and De Soto on Monday.
"It's the meat of our schedule," THS coach Bill DeWitt said. "I guess we'll see where we're at."
At the break, Tonganoxie is 6-3. The Chieftains have seven wrestlers with eight wins or more, and another two with a combined record of 11-1 battling for one spot.
Freshmen Hunter Samuels (5-0) and Andy Koontz (6-1) are both in the 103-pound class, but only one can wrestle in a meet at once.
"They're both tremendous wrestlers," DeWitt said. "They're very good friends and practice partners."
During practice each week, a dual between wrestlers in the same weight class decides who gets the nod in a match, something DeWitt said is great about the sport.
"It's totally objective," DeWitt said.
The procedure decides who competes in the other weight classes as well, and at this point, another freshman, Ross Starcher, is leading the way in the 112-pound class with a team-high 11 victories and one loss.
"I've been pleased with my freshmen as far as making a transition from junior high to the high school level," DeWitt said. "I think they've done well."
The Chieftains also have found success in seniors Steve Adcox and Josh Ferris. Adcox is 8-1, while Ferris is 8-3. Other wrestlers with strong records include sophomore Chad Starcher (9-2), junior Andrew Miller (9-2), sophomore Matt Weyer (8-3) and Pat Weyer (8-4). The Chieftains expect sophomore Travis Andrews (3-6) to return to action. Andrews missed the Santa Fe Trail dual Dec. 13 with back problems.
Overall, DeWitt said he's pleased with the amount of talent on his team top to bottom.
"We have pretty good JV kids," DeWitt said. "They may be able to be varsity on other teams, but they can't knock anyone out of the varsity spots."
DeWitt, though, doesn't enjoy the one constant in the wrestling season the substantial break in late December and early January.
"It's a frustrating sport," DeWitt said. "You go and then you take a break and then you go again."
The team ended with a ragged last practice before Christmas, but the wrestlers responded in its first practice back after the holiday.
"This Friday, they were excited," DeWitt said. "They looked pretty crisp.
"They weren't thrilled about being at practice, but they were lively. I think they're ready to get back into it."