Kids wrestling program prepares for state
The Tonganoxie Kids Wrestling Club, which has roots in the city since its inception in 1994, is in full swing preparing for the state tournament in March.
"We start in November and go through March," first-year wrestling club assistant James Gallet said. "We're talking about kids aged 4 all the way to 16."
The wrestling club has about 30 boys and girls participating. Practices are held every Tuesday and Thursday night in the Tonganoxie High School wrestling room.
Gallet said the goal of the club was to prepare his wrestlers for the next level of competition.
"We'd like to develop the kids and keep them interested in the sport, while attracting new kids," said Gallet, a 1993 graduate of Basehor-Linwood High School.
To help organize his practice, Gallet attended and studied practices of the Tonganoxie High wrestling team. He took note of how THS coach Jeremy Goebel conducted practice. Gallet said he wanted wrestlers in his club to have similar form to Goebel's wrestlers, so when they got to high school, they wouldn't have to change their style.
"These kids are just starting to get a feel for the way they're supposed to be moving on the mat," Gallet said. "We're teaching them basic moves at practice. We don't teach the kids a lot of fancy or get-rich type moves."
Ideally, the wrestling club would be like a farm system for the Chieftains high school program, wrestling club president Lennie Starcher said.
After all, many current THS varsity wrestlers - including Cameron and Travis Adcox, A.J. DeMaranville, Wyatt Coffin, Jeremie Maus and Zach Kaighin - began their wrestling careers with the wrestling club.
"Back when I was wrestling, most people's freshman year (of high school) was their first year of wrestling," said Starcher, who graduated from THS in 1993. "Now if you're wrestling in high school, you have a lot of kids who have wrestled since they were 6 years old. To be competitive in high school, you have to have some sort of feeder program."
The wrestling club has competed in six meets this season. It had five wrestlers - Colton Pope, Isaiah Frese, Jacob Hahn, Wyatt Miles and Wyatt Troupe - bring home gold medals Sunday at the novice tournament in De Soto.
Hahn, for instance, started wrestling this year. He's undefeated (10-0) since he picked up the sport.
"He has great balance and keeps his hips underneath him," Gallet said of Hahn. "Just to watch him wrestle is kind of neat. Some are uncoordinated. He's 8 (years old) and has such phenomenal balance."
The wrestling club has the opportunity to participate in a state tournament, which is different than the Kansas Class 4A state tournament. The wrestling club's state tournament typically takes place in March at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka.
Making it to state is no easy task. First, there are sub-districts scattered throughout the state. The top four from each age group make it to the district competition. The top four wrestlers in the district competition from each age group advance to a bracket of 16 in the state tournament.
Saturday's results at Mill Valley:
Zeke Kissinger 1-2; Paige Herrera 1-2;
Patterson Starcher 2-2 (4th place)
Sunday's results at De Soto:
Calvin Morgan 2-1 (2nd place); Tristen Briley 0-2 (3rd place); Jesse Collier 2-1 (2nd place); Kiowa Witt 0-1; Emmett Kenne 0-4; J.T. Caton 0-3 (4th place);
Colton Pope 3-0 (1st place); Isaiah Freise 3-0 (1st place); Kevin Beck 1-2 (3rd place); Brody Troupe 1-2 (3rd place); Dillon Funk 2-1 (2nd place); Jacob Hahn 4-0 (1st place);
Wyatt Miles 3-0 (1st place); Wyatt Troupe 3-0 (1st place); Billy Briggs 1-2 (3rd place); Luke Carey 3-1 (2nd place).