Grapplers bow out early at state meet
Wichita hasn't been the best of destinations for Tonganoxie wrestlers in recent years.
The trend continued Friday and Saturday at the Kansas Coliseum.
Chieftain wrestlers went a combined 1-6 in the state meet as Ross Starcher scored Tonganoxie's only four points of the meet in the 145-pound division.
Starcher, who entered the tournament with a 40-2 record and high expectations, left with another early exit.
He did win his first match against Buhler's Andrew Gossett, pinning his opponent 30 seconds into the second period. But in the quarterfinals, Concordia's Weston Fleming scored a narrow 6-4 decision.
In the consolation bracket, Anderson County's Adam Tyson pinned Starcher 1:35 into the match and sent the junior home with a 41-4 record. Despite winning regionals this year, Starcher couldn't make much of a dent in this year's bracket. He now is 2-6 all-time in state tournaments.
"That's just how things happen sometimes down there," THS coach Jeremy Goebel said. "I think it will be a motivational factor for next year."
That appears to be the case. Starcher already has asked Goebel to open the weight room for his and fellow state qualifier Garrett Palmer's preparation for next season.
Palmer finished his season at 29-12 after going 0-for-2 at this year's tournament. The junior faced eventual state runner-up Marcus Bowman from Columbus in the opening round and then drew Colby's Taylor Finley (33-4), who eventually placed sixth. Bowman, who also was runner-up last year in 135, pinned Palmer in the first period. Finley pinned Palmer 18 seconds into the third and final period.
"Garrett just got a couple bad draws," Goebel said.
Chad Starcher who battled a bicep injury to earn a state berth in his final season, also went 0-2 in Wichita.
Starcher lost by a 5-0 decision in the opening round to Wamego's Scott Pittenger and then fell to Pratt's Asher Riner, 7-1, in the consolation bracket.
"His bicep never healed," Goebel said. "He's so tough that he blocked it out, but it was still a factor."
Now Goebel must look to next year. Chad Starcher and fellow seniors Alan Bauerly, Matt Weyer, Brad Nickel and Jerry Hartshorn will be lost to graduation.
In his third year next winter, Goebel will welcome back Palmer, Ross Starcher, Hunter Samuels and a strong group of sophomores-to-be.
"Next year we've got some good experience," Goebel said. "I don't see us going down there and not placing next year.
"We've got to get over that hump."