GARDEN PLAIN—Hoisington coach Dan Schmidt couldn’t ask for a better birthday present.
His wrestlers repeated as regional champions this weekend, and he earned honors as regional coach of the year. He was already celebrating Saturday, Feb. 16, the day before his birthday.
Hoisington compiled 169.5 points to win the Class 3-1A regional in Garden Plain. Lyons took second with 111.5 points.
Hoisington, which claimed five individual titles, will send seven wrestlers to the state meet at Fort Hays.
“It starts with winning your regional,” said Schmidt. “You’ve got to qualify kids and get kids well-positioned at state.”
Brandon Ball was Hoisington’s first regional champion Saturday. The 126-pounder, who is a defending state champion, beat Brendan Arnold of Lyons by tech fall in the title match. Ball is unbeaten this year.
Schmidt said Ball was a home-school student who joined the Hoisington team last season. He described Ball as a quiet leader.
“He’s very mentally tough,” the coach continued. “He shows our kids how to be mentally tough. He’s a force.”
The Cardinals’ other unbeaten wrestler, Chance Demel, finished first in the 145-pound bracket. He decisioned Sedgwick’s Nic Johnson 6-1.
Nick Wuthrow of Salina Sacred Heart also preserved his undefeated record. He pinned Garrett Lott of Minneapolis in the 170-pound final.
A junior, Wuthrow was state runner-up last season.
“It was kind of a disappointment last year winning second,” he said. “It makes me that much more eager to get the gold this year.”
He added that a perfect record takes “lots of hard work.”
“Every day I push myself harder and harder,” Wuthrow remarked.
An upset took place in the 160-pound category, where Tanner Smith of Cimarron edged Dalton Gonzales of Lakin. Gonzales led 8-0 in the second period until Smith won by fall.
Smith said Saturday’s final was the fifth time he had faced Gonzales this year but only the second time he won.
“A lot of hard work has paid off,” he said.
Smith, a senior, is only a second-year wrestler. He explained that he always played baseball when he lived in Colorado, but he took up wrestling after transferring to Cimarron, which has no baseball team.