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Overcoming injuries and COVID, Mulvane’s Kammie Schanz reaches state wrestling unbeaten

Mulvane sophomore Kammie Schanz battled through adversity to continue her unbeaten year with a...
Mulvane sophomore Kammie Schanz battled through adversity to continue her unbeaten year with a sub-state first place finish(Conor Nicholl)
Published: Feb. 20, 2021 at 11:01 AM CST
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ELLIS, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - Mulvane sophomore Kammie Schanz lost by one point in the 143-pound state championship match last winter. This fall, Schanz elected to try cross country. During a race near season’s end, Schanz stepped in a hole and partially tore her Achilles tendon. At first, Schanz thought she would miss all of wrestling.

However, the doctor told Schanz she would probably be back by January. She had one practice when wrestling resumed in 2021. Then, Schanz contracted the coronavirus and missed more time.

“In a bed for two weeks,” Schanz said. “Because my throat was hurting. I had like no energy at all. Just a major headache also. A huge headache for most of the time.”

Schanz eventually returned. Next, the doctor noticed she had separated tendons around her shin bone. Schanz could not run. Biking presented the only conditioning option. She rode the bike for around 90 minutes to two hours a day.

“I was biking and biking,” Schanz said. “And it’s really boring.”

Still, Schanz battled through the obstacles and has emerged as the 138-pound state favorite in Division II (Classes 4-1A). On Friday, Schanz captured the Division II West sub-state championship at Ellis High School with three pins.

Schanz improved to 16-0 and tallied 26 points, tied with five other wrestlers for the individual high. She is currently ranked No. 1 at 138 and bested an eight-girl field that featured wrestlers ranked third, fourth and fifth.

In all other years, the top-16 would have gone to the state tournament after last week’s regionals. COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines changed the postseason format this year. At sub-state, the 16 qualifiers thinned to eight (four east, four west) for the one-day state tournament next Friday in Salina.

Last season, Schanz was Mulvane’s lone state qualifier and finished 30-3 in the inaugural all-classes KSHSAA sanctioned meet. She lost, 3-2, to Pratt’s Livia Swift in the finals. Schanz never trailed Swift until the final 15 seconds.

“Every single day, every single day I’ve thought about it,” Schanz said.

On Friday, Schanz first wanted to mention teammates and coaching staff before her obstacles. Overall, Mulvane finished fourth with 53 points.

“She does all the right things,” assistant coach Eric Kruger said. “It’s pretty awesome to see, especially for a kid that young.”

Top-ranked Pratt easily captured the crown with 92 points. Oakley was second at 64 and Wellington third at 61. The Wildcats qualified three to state. At 132, freshman Kasey Dillon (16-8) placed fourth. At 155, freshman Katelyn Wyant (9-9) earned fourth. Mulvane was not ranked in the top-10 in the coaches’ poll for regionals.

“I was just super excited,” Schanz said.  We got three girls. That’s just amazing.”

Mulvane assistants Michael Bird and Kruger led the Wildcat girls Friday. Bird is a Rule 10 coach, while Kruger teaches English/humanities at Mulvane. Schanz said she gives “all” credit to Kruger for helping increase numbers.

“I have tried to push that recruitment pretty hard,” Kruger said. “So it was cool last year. It’s cooler this year.”

Mulvane started with 14 girls this winter. The Wildcats are expected to pick up more girls from the current eighth-grade class.

“Every single class, he will be like, ‘Girls wrestling this year, girls’ wrestling this year. We need more girls, we need more girls,’” Schanz said. “And he will just go at it. And I also believe like, Katelyn, she’s a freshman, it was her first year like trying wrestling – and she’s going to state. Like that’s going to bring girls out.”

Since last season, Schanz has watched the finals match “a few times.” Schanz improved her shape and bumped down to 138 this winter. Her goal is a state title. Only four Mulvane wrestlers, all boys, have ever won a wrestling crown. Anthony Scantlin is the lone multiple winner with three titles from ’15-17.

Schanz had few matches before districts started Feb. 5 as she battled back from the Achilles. Kruger said Schanz “does all the right things,” including her rehab.

“It definitely bothered her at the beginning of the season,” Bird said. “But she’s a tough girl, so she fought through it. I think she’s seen the bigger picture at the end, the state championship is what she wants.”

Notably, she took first at the Wellington meet on Jan. 23 and won the Salina South tournament on Jan. 30.

“In practice, she’s always looking to add more stuff to her toolbox,” Kruger said. “…Last week, she’s asking questions about ‘Hey, what about this? What about this? How can I get better at this?’ And I think that as a match goes on, it leaves her with a lot of options.”

At Wellington, Schanz won all four matches with first period falls. At South, she went 3-0 with two falls.

“She’s definitely the backbone of our girls,” Bird said. “I mean, a lot of our girls look up to her. She’s a veteran, so not having her in the wrestling room for however long she was out, it definitely took a toll on our girls.”

At times, Schanz battled limited numbers in her own weight class. In districts, she defeated Circle senior Courtney Holt, 9-0, in her only match. At regionals, Schanz again faced Holt in the finals and won by fall in 4:47.

“Wrestling conditioning is completely different from any kind of like running, or you are playing softball or football or something like that,” Schanz said. “Wrestling is all you got for six minutes plus. There’s nothing like it.”

On Friday, Schanz opened with a win by fall in 2:40 against Nickerson sophomore Cheyenne Carder. In the semifinals, Schanz steadily pulled away from Smoky Valley senior Belle Peters and captured the fall in 4:18.

“Having her come back and still be strong, I think that the girls definitely took to that, and seeing that,” Bird said. “They were able to come up even bigger for us.”

An excellent athlete in volleyball and track, Peters is one of the best pole vaulters in Kansas history. She elected to wrestle for the first time and took third. In the championship, Schanz again faced Holt. After a scoreless first period, Schanz won by fall in 4:20. Each time, the matchup versus Holt has had a different flow.

“Getting into the third period, she is able to pull out some stuff that the girls haven’t seen before,” Bird said.

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