Home invitational on horizon
Wrestlers to compete at THS after busy weekend on road
Tonganoxie should have just enough time to catch its breath for the Chieftains lone home wrestling tournament on Saturday.
The Tonganoxie High School grapplers capped three competitions in five days Monday at Perry. The Chieftains went 4-0, including their first win against Basehor-Linwood under coach Bill DeWitt.
Tonganoxie also competed in the Salina South Invitational on Saturday. The Chieftains left Tonganoxie at 4 a.m. and returned from Salina at midnight. The team practiced again Sunday evening and then finished off Perry-Lecompton and De Soto on Monday.
The Chieftains improved their dual record to 10-3 with those victories, although DeWitt said the team was ready for a break.
"We were rugged, tired and worn out," DeWitt said after the dual Monday. "They were up for Basehor and up for the tournament. It's a tough stretch."
Because of state rules, Tonganoxie held out some wrestlers so they could compete in more matches later in the season. Freshman Ross Starcher and senior Josh Ferris were two members who didn't compete Monday.
With a slightly different lineup, the Chieftains defeated De Soto 39-24 and Perry-Lecompton 42-12, but THS had difficult matches. Against De Soto, sophomore Travis Andrews was tied 11-11 in the third period and had an apparent pin in the second period, but wasn't awarded the win. He was later pinned by the Wildcat opponent in the final period.
Arguably the most exciting match came against Perry-Lecompton, in which sophomore Jerry Hartshorn, wrestled against Kaw sophomore Dustin Wealthall. The match was delayed on a few occasions because of Hartshorn's bloody nose. The Chieftain sophomore battled a nose-bleed and a deficit, but came back and tied the match at seven before winning it in overtime, 9-7.
DeWitt said Hartshorn's performance summed up the evening.
"That's a microcosm of the whole night," DeWitt said. "In no way were they going to lay down and die."
The Chieftains took Tuesday off and start preparing today for their home tournament Saturday. The event starts at 9 a.m. and DeWitt said finals are scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
Teams at this year's tournament are traditional participants in the THS tournament. Blue Valley West, Topeka West, Horton, KC-Ward, Louisburg, Atchison, Central Heights, De Soto and Oskaloosa will compete in the tournament.
"It's the kids' home tournament," DeWitt said. "We want to do well and look good on our home floor because we don't get to be home very often."
The Chieftains only other home competition was Dec. 6 when THS defeated Hiawatha and lost to Royal Valley.
"Hopefully they're ready," DeWitt said. "I didn't get them up for Monday. I should have them up on Saturday."
Chieftains place two at Salina
Tonganoxie went to Salina and faced predominately larger schools. The Chieftains came back with two medals.
Ross Starcher (112 pound division) and James Hartshorn (215) earned third-place finishes at the invitational.
"We thought if we got a couple medals, that would be good, but we could have had a couple more," DeWitt said.
DeWitt earns first win against BLHS
Tonganoxie defeated Basehor-Linwood for the first time in DeWitt's six-year tenure at THS.
The Bobcats were without a few top wrestlers, including senior standout Matt Dukes, but DeWitt said a win is still a win.
"You still have to have put bodies out there to wrestle," DeWitt said.
Moss recovering from minor heart surgery
THS assistant coach Dean Moss, who had a minor heart attack Dec. 29, is recovering from successful surgery. No date has been set for his return to the team.