Rookies and veterans: Tonganoxie Chieftains sending four freshmen, two seniors to state
Tonganoxie High wrestling’s state appearance this year will be a distinct mix of two aspirations: make a big splash or go out with a bang.
The Chieftains managed to qualify six wrestlers — four freshmen who will compete at state for the first time and two seniors who will be making their final appearances in THS singlets.
Aidan McClellan was the first Chieftain wrestler to qualify for state at last weekend’s Class 4A regional in Baldwin City.
Freshman McClellan placed fourth in the 106-pound division after losing to Santa Fe Trail’s Christian Davis in the consolation finals, 5-4.
Fellow freshman Patterson Starcher followed that performance up with a silver medal at 113. Starcher lost, 12-3, to Bonner Springs’ Tanner Hitchcock in the finals.
Tonganoxie’s third rookie advanced to state in the when Gad Huseman defeated Baldwin’s Ben Morgenstern, 6-4, in sudden victory, in the 126-pound division.
Senior Garrett Martin advanced to state for a second consecutive year after placing fourth at 138. Holton’s Tyler Price pinned Martin at the 3:59 mark in the consolation finals.
Fellow senior Dalton Tavis is back for his third state appearance after taking second at 145. Tavis, who went to state his first two seasons, missed his junior year because of a knee injury. He went 3-1 Saturday, with his only blemish coming in the championship match. Holton’s Justin Rieschick improved to 40-2 with a 15-3 major decision victory against Tavis.
Tonganoxie’s final state representative is Devin Duncan, who placed fourth at 170. Baldwin’s Joel Katzer, 23-3, pinned Duncan at the 2:09 mark.
THS coach Ross Starcher said getting 2/3 of his regional participants on to state was a success.
“I was happy with it,” Starcher said. “I’d say we were clicking at the right time.”
THS finished seventh out of 16 teams with 93.5 points, just behind sixth-place Santa Fe Trail, which scored 95.
Baldwin won the meet in its home gymnasium with 189 points. Holton placed second and Basehor-Linwood third.
The Chieftains started state preparations Monday and will head Thursday night to Salina.
The state tournament starts at 10 a.m. Friday in the Bicentennial Center.
Starcher said his wrestlers really have nothing more to prepare for physically.
“This week, we have to prepare mentally,” he said. “Just have to prepare the minds.”
He said the team will practice Thursday night in the Bicentennial Center and will probably work out at the YMCA. He also anticipates keeping the team loose — mentally as well — with an activity such as a movie night Thursday.
He said there naturally would be some anxiety whether the wrestler is a first-time freshman or a seasoned senior.
It’s the coaches’ responsibility to get the wrestlers in the right mindset, according to Starcher.
McClellan (19-15) will face McPherson sophomore Austin Eldredge (35-1) in the first round, while Patterson Starcher (31-12) will meet Louisburg sophomore Nathan Keegan (29-17) in his opening match.
Huseman (28-12) takes on Thomas More Prep-Marian’s Tucker Rhoades. The sophomore from the private school in Hays is 33-8.
Martin (28-12) faces El Dorado sophomore Dakota Motter (26-6) in the opening round, while Dalton Tavis (22-7) takes on Ulysses junior Mario Rodriguez (26-4) in his first-round match.
And Duncan (5-4) will meet Columbus senior Taylor Watkins, who is 36-1 on the season.
Tonganoxie’s three other regional participants ended their seasons at the Baldwin regional. Caden Searcy finished the season 16-16 at 132, Jay Willcutt finished with a 5-6 varsity record at 152 and Cody Knight finished the season 7-22 at 160.
- Baldwin, 189; 2. Holton, 160.5; 3. Basehor-Linwood; 4. Bonner Springs, 135.5; 5. De Soto, 103; 6. Santa Fe trail, 95; 7. Tonganoxie, 93.5; 8. Jeff West, 84; 9. Bishop Ward, 57; 10. Bishop Miege, 46; 11. Royal Valley, 43; 12. Atchison, 35; 13. Sumner Academy, 31.5; 14. Eudora, 27; 15. Piper, 19; 16. Perry-Lecompton, 6.