Hoxie renews state record with six champions, two runners-up; 3-2-1A Wrestling Results

Hoxie takes home 321A wrestling championship
Published: Feb. 25, 2023 at 9:48 PM CST
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HAYS, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - The small town in northwest Kansas dominated the wrestling landscape this season. Two-time defending Class 3-2-1A state champion Hoxie beat teams from all classes this season. Last year, the Indians set a record by scoring 189 points to win the 3-2-1A title by 89 points. Friday, Hoxie built a 65.5 lead in day one of the state championships. Saturday’s total turned into 260 points with six individual champions and two runners-up. Norton finished second with 101.5 points, just half a point ahead of third-place Sabetha.

“We have good kids who believe and work really, really hard,” said Hoxie Coach Mike Porsch. “We set high goals. We don’t reach everything we set, but if you don’t reach the highest ones, you still do pretty good.”

Hoxie has a rich wrestling tradition with the two previous titles and much success over the years. How good was this year’s team? Porsch said it’s at least in the conversation of the best team of all-time at the school. He loses five seniors to graduation but expects to contend again next winter.

“We’re going to return a bunch of good guys,” he said. “We have some guys at the next level that are ready to step up there and hopefully do some stuff. We only had 16 on the whole team of boys. The guys who were wrestling junior varsity saw varsity action. They scored points for the team in tournaments and duals. Hopefully they’re ready.”

Saturday’s championship schedule saved the best for last. Fewer than 40 wrestlers in Kansas history have recorded four state championships. Hoxie senior Derek Johnson entered the 157-pound final with a perfect record still intact. He put on a clinic against third-ranked senior Joseph Ord of Chaparral with a quick 8-0 lead in less than a minute. Johnson built the lead to 17-0 in the second period to secure the fourth title and a perfect 43-0 record this year.

Title matches opened at 165 pounds with another perfect Hoxie season on the line. Senior Drew Bretz had his work cut out for him against one-loss Drew Withington of Rawlins County. Bretz led just 4-2 after two periods but was able to hold the score until the final whistle to complete a 40-0 season.

Hoxie picked up another big win at 285 pounds. Fifth-ranked junior Gavin Schippers faced off against Sabetha’s second-ranked junior Joshua Grimm, tying the match 1-1 with an escape late in the third period. But the point came at a cost as Schippers battled through an ankle injury, taking his injury time all the way down to two seconds. Late in tie-break action, Grimm all but had the championship won when Schippers flipped the script with two reversal points in the final seconds to steal a 3-2 win. He did it with his back turned to the clock.

“I felt like it was the last second, I might as well turn around and get what I needed to do, and I did it,” Schippers said.

Hoxie’s title at 132 pounds was no guarantee even though top-ranked Carson Ochs entered the finals with a perfect record. Hoisington’s Josiah Ball entered the championship match ranked No. 2 with a family history of state champions, including four-time champion Brandon Ball. The match lived up to the hype with Ball scoring an escape point early in the third period. That 1-0 lead lasted until Ochs, the reigning runner up at 126 pounds, took the lead for good with a takedown with just 15 seconds left on the clock. Ochs capped a perfect 38-0 season.

Dayton Bell was another runner up for Hoxie last year. He entered the 138-pound bracket ranked No. 1 and took an early 2-0 lead against second-ranked Colin Menold, a junior from Sabetha. Bell hung on for the 4-2 win and the title.

Hoxie freshman Ian Giancola made an immediate splash with the championship at 113 pounds. Ranked No. 3, he won a 5-1 decision against second-ranked Chase Johnson of Minneapolis in round two. He won a 6-4 decision against Burlingame’s sixth-ranked Logan Courtois in the finals.

The other perfect season came at 106 pounds with Beloit freshman Brogan Monty capping a 41-0 first season with an 8-2 decision against Hoxie’s fifth-ranked sophomore Kash Schiltz. Monty was in control most of the way with an 8-1 lead after two periods.

Top-ranked AJ Polansky of Republic County ended his prep career with a bang at 120 pounds. After two scoreless periods against third-ranked Kaden Sisson of Phillipsburg, the senior picked up two nearfall points midway through the third and rode that to a 2-0 victory. He finished his final season at 43-6.

Ellis junior Mason Younger made it all the way to the state finals at 120 pounds last year. This year, he entered state with just one loss and the top ranking at 126 pounds. He was able to keep Hoxie’s second-ranked senior Wayne Shepard at bay in a 10-3 finale. Younger finishes the season at 40-1.

Smith Center senior Alex Wilkinson pulled a slight upset for the title at 144 pounds. He won a 5-4 decision against third-ranked Jarret Mader of Ellis to reach the finals where he met top-ranked Wyatt Gardner, a junior from Wichita County. The match advanced to sudden victory before Wilkinson pulled off the 3-1 win to end his season at 38-8.

Smith Center senior Bentley Montgomery followed that with another exciting Redman title at 150 pounds. A fifth-place finisher at 138 pounds last year, Montgomery entered the state bracket with just one loss, advancing to the finals with a sudden-victory win against second-ranked Skyler Geer of Halstead. Montgomery defeated Atchison County’s fifth-ranked sophomore Easton Schletzbaum 2-1 for the title to end his season at 46-1.

At 175 pounds, Sabetha’s third-ranked senior Josh Herrmann took care of top-ranked Samuel Watkins of Hoxie with a 6-2 decision in the semifinals. Second-ranked Aiden Amrein of Hill City was ready to pounce. The junior pinned his way to the finals, then needed just 50 seconds to pin Herrmann to win the title and finish his season at 37-5.

Larned junior Luke Fischer, ranked No. 3 at 190 pounds, also pulled out a big win against top-ranked Garrett Urban of Norton. Trailing in the final 30 seconds of that match, Fischer got two points with just 26 ticks left to pull ahead 3-2 and hang on for the upset. It’s a far cry from last year’s memories of crying in the Walmart parking lot with his father after a loss in the blood round.

“I work on a farm and we’re baling at three in the morning,” Fischer said. “All that hard work, it just makes you tougher. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You have to put yourself in hard situations to capitalize on moments like that. I just had to trust in myself, take that shot, and go for it.”

Smith Center’s first championship of the day came at 215 pounds behind second-ranked junior Eli Franklin. Franklin’s escape point in the second period was the lone point after two quarters in the championship match against top-ranked Jefferson Otter, a senior from Norton. Otter leveled the score in the third with his own escape to force extra time where Franklin was able to win the tie-break 3-2 to cap his season at 42-6.

Action was interrupted after the 106-pound finals when a Hoxie man sitting on press row went down with an unknown medical condition. First responders provided CPR, and the man was responsive before he was wheeled from the arena.