Linenberger: Wrestling, powerlifting offer winter options
Basketball is on the minds of many these days.
After all, this is Kansas, a place rich in hoops tradition.
Whether you love or loathe the nation’s second-winningest men’s program that calls Lawrence home, the Wichita State and Kansas State programs, historically, are no slouches.
Yep, KU is the lone Sunflower State squad still playing and once again drew President Barack Obama’s attention. The basketball enthusiast picked KU to win it all this year.
Many people’s brackets have been busted thanks to a school somewhere in the middle of Tennessee and a buzzer beating game-winner from Wisconsin. Northern Iowa might not have been a popular pick against Texas, but the Panthers stunned UT with a buzzer beater, only to be on the losing end of the greatest last-minute rally in college basketball against Texas A&M.
The roundball craziness is sure to continue the next two weekends.
But if I could move your eyes away from Charles Barkley and friends, I’d lie to talk to you about a couple other winter sports that don’t receive quite the same amount of hype.
The NCAA wrestling championships could be seen on ESPN, but the demanding sport usually takes a back seat to basketball around here.
At the high school level, wrestling continues to be a strongpoint at Tonganoxie High.
The Chieftains qualified six and medaled three at state last month.
It marked the second season in a row THS accomplished the feat.
The third time could be a noteworthy charm for the Chieftains in 2017.
All six qualifiers return next season.
And, others qualified the previous season that will look to bounce back from injury or a tough regional bracket in 2016.
Coach Ross Starcher has the makings of a banner year, but he noted again and again a wish list: some live bodies in the upper weight classes.
THS held its own in many of its tournaments, whether that was a finish in the top half or somewhere in the middle.
Some points in the upper weights might have pushed them to team trophy in many of those cases.
For student-athletes in those weight divisions at Tonganoxie High not competing in another sport in the winter, joining the wrestling team might be a great fit.
Competing on the wrestling team can be beneficial in staying in shape for other sports. And, the student-athletes might just find that they’re pretty good at the sport. Sure, the learning curve could be steep, but it’s worth the consideration.
The same goes for the Tonganoxie powerlifting team. It’s not sanctioned by the Kansas State High School Activities Association, but Matt Bond’s team offers another opportunity to stay active in those fruit cake, dressing and mashed potatoes months.
And again, you’d be walking into an established program.
The THS girls powerlifting team just placed second in Class 4A. The team will continue to work toward knocking off local rival and powerlifting juggernaut Basehor-Linwood.
Come Thursday, many will be returning to Big Dance programming.
As someone who would love nothing more than that team in Lawrence to win another NCAA title and hang a banner, I’ll be tuning in.
But after KU and the rest of the field are done playing, I encourage THS student-athletes not already focused on contributing to Chieftain basketball for 2016-17 to consider the other winter offerings at THS.
Who knows, maybe your contribution would help in raising a championship banner.