Retro singlets bring good luck to Tonganoxie wrestlers
The wrestling uniform was nothing special.
Faded red with white stripes around the singlet's arm, neck and leg holes, a large Chieftain head appears on the uniform front with a small, plain "T" just above it near the left shoulder.
With two shiny uniforms to choose from, it would seem unnecessary to wear anything but the newest threads.
But when a little superstition is involved, not-so-comfortable singlets made their way from a random box in storage to a 4A regional in Fort Scott and then to the state wrestling tournament in Wichita.
THS coach Jeremy Goebel thought breaking out the old uniforms would be good luck.
His wrestlers agreed.
Uniforms that last were worn a few years before this year's Chieftain seniors were born came out of retirement for the past two weekends.
Chieftain grapplers wore the old uniforms throughout much of the two tournaments.
The good-luck charms seemed to be worth a bushel of rabbit's feet.
Seniors Hunter Samuels, Garrett Palmer and Ross Starcher all advanced to state in the uniforms.
Samuels and Palmer both went 2-2 in the uniforms at state while Starcher went a perfect 3-0 in his vintage singlet.
When it came to his championship match, Starcher opted for his standard title-bout wardrobe -- the red and gold THS singlet.
But Starcher couldn't manage a perfect weekend at Wichita and fell in the 171-pound finals.
Some things had to be sacrificed in the name of superstition.
The old uniforms are tighter and a bit shorter than the current THS uniforms.
"When you're wrestling, you really don't notice it," Samuels said. "If there's time you might adjust them."
Goebel didn't limit the good-luck charms to the wrestlers' wardrobes.
During a break in the tournament Feb. 25 in Wichita, Goebel went in the stands at Kansas Coliseum to play with his son, Jace. On the way to Wichita, the Chieftain caravan stopped at a McDonald's and Goebel purchased a small tiger toy for his son.
While playing with his son, Goebel put the toy in his pocket and headed down to the arena floor, forgetting that he had the new-found lucky charm in his pocket.
The toy stayed with Goebel throughout much of the tournament.
It's hard to tell whether the Chieftains will be wearing the old-school uniforms again next season or whether Goebel will carry a miniature tiger in his pocket.
If any black cats or shattered mirrors are anywhere near postseason tournaments next year, the uniforms just might come out of retirement once again.