After sending three wrestlers to the state tournament last year, Maize South High School hopes to qualify eight this season.
The Mavericks are striving for continued improvement, even in a season that features a move from Class 4A to 5A and a jump from the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League’s Division IV to Division II.
Maize South coach Matt Kerr said the Mavericks’ goal was to finish among the top three teams in Division II, which he described as “extremely competitive.” Division II includes three of the top five squads from last year’s 5A state tournament, including the state champion, Arkansas City.
All of Maize South’s state qualifiers from last year are returning wrestlers: sophomores Bryce Garcia and Kevin Kissane and senior Jaysten McClure. Garcia qualified for the 4A state tournament at 106 pounds while Kissane was a 132-pounder. McClure, the school’s only state placer, took sixth at 120 pounds.
Other key wrestlers for the Mavericks this season will be seniors Jesse Bashor and Nevada Harlan, junior Shelton Robison and sophomore Jared Hydock. Rylan Kasitz will represent Maize South at 106 pounds.
According to Kerr, the Mavericks aim to produce “several state placers and hopefully the school’s first state champion.” Maize South is assigned to the 5A regional Feb. 16 at Great Bend, which also includes Hays, Liberal, Newton, Salina Central, Salina South, Valley Center and the host. The state tournament will be at Hartman Arena.
First, however, Maize South will open its season Thursday, Nov. 29, when Goddard Eisenhower will visit. One event that Kerr looks forward to is the Eudora tournament, set for Dec. 7 and 8. He said it’s the tournament where the wrestlers bond, and it’s beneficial to see competition from the Kansas City area.
The other tournament that Kerr mentioned, the Newton tournament, will take place in January. He said the competition affords teams the chance to see where they stand against the best in the state. Newton was the state runner-up last year in 5A.