WAKEENEY, Kan. - Hoxie senior Dayton Porsch is one of the state’s most well-known wrestlers. He is No. 1 ranked at 160 pounds in 3-2-1A, has lost just twice in his high school career and is a three-time defending state champion.
Porsch has signed with NCAA Division I University of Northern Iowa. His dad, Mike, is the longtime Hoxie wrestling coach, and Dayton’s older brother, Tristan, was a two-time state champion.
Hoxie, though, has three other wrestlers who have been under the radar the majority of the season. On Saturday, all four captured a crown at the WaKeeney-Trego Community 3-2-1A regional. At 120, freshman Drew Bell (32-5) won, 7-0, against St. Francis sophomore Garin Cooper in the championship.
At 132, junior Dylan Weimer (32-6) took first with a 3-0 win versus St. Francis senior Tiernan Poling (33-5) in the finals. At 145, Hoxie sophomore Aidan Baalman earned the crown with an impressive 11-8 victory against Plainville senior Brandon Rohr (30-5).
At 160, Porsch (37-1) cruised to the title with a bye and wins by fall by 1 minute, 40 seconds, 13 seconds and 1:43 against Cimarron junior Tate Seabolt. The quartet represented all of Hoxie’s state qualifiers.
The four champions were the most by any team in the field. Colby won with 168 points, Plainville was second at 122, Norton third at 121.5 and Hoxie fourth at 112. Hoxie was sixth in the 3-2-1A team rankings this week. The Indians were third in 3-2-1A last season behind Scott City and Colby.
“We stressed finishing,” coach Porsch said. “You finish your moves, you finish a tournament, you finish the best you can, so I was pretty pleased with getting four finalists.”
For the second straight season, Hoxie bypassed the Western Kansas Tournament of Champions that has the Mid-Continent League and Northwest Kansas League, conferences that frequently face other, including at regionals. Hoxie, part of the NWKL, has instead gone to the prestigious Rocky Welton Invitational in Garden City, which has more than 40 teams.
“Right or wrong, I preach to them, we wrestle tougher competition than most of the guys here,” coach Porsch said. “We are going to come into some losses and being battle-tested. … . I think it’s the best thing we have done as a program.”
Bell was unranked on Jan. 15 and then vaulted to second in the Jan. 22 poll after the Beloit tournament and has remained there since.
“I am fine with having guys under the radar,” Porsch said. “(Bell) was under the radar until the Beloit tournament, and I told some guys (who asked), ‘Well, why isn’t he ranked?’ And I am like, ‘Just let it be, he is a freshman. He is going to have enough targets on his back, because he is a special one. Drew is a special one, and just let him enjoy this kind of under the radar.”
Weimer is ranked sixth but was never ranked until the Jan. 29 poll. Poling had been sixth in the classification. Porsch said Weimer had a “really bad tournament” at Norton on Jan. 5 and lost to Poling and Beloit freshman Tate Kadel.
Then, at the Beloit tournament on Jan. 20, Weimer defeated Kadel by technical fall and won the tournament.
“Just picked himself up,” Porsch said. “Like I said, ‘The sun will come up. We all have bad days.’ The sun will come up, and he showed it, and then from there on, he had a really good tournament at Garden City making the (medal) stand, and then just kind of been lights out from there on out. Always believed that he could be there.”
Last year, Baalman enjoyed a big upset run through the Goodland regional. He was seeded 16th but took fourth, a plus-12 place-seed difference that was easily the biggest in the field. Baalman went 19-23 and missed placing at state by one match.
“That’s probably the tournament that actually got Aidan Baalman to state,” Porsch of Garden City. “Especially on that backside where you might go out there and get beat up because they wrestle it out so far, but you’ve got to keep wrestling and learning how to do that.”
This weekend, he was unranked entering regionals. In a stacked regional, Baalman and Ellis 152-pound sophomore Konnor Pfeifer were the only champions who entered unranked.
“The boys have earned it,” Porsch said.
Rohr had been fifth and then moved to second this week. Rohr was seeded first, Baalman second. Baalman improved to 32-10.
“This year, he has been on fire,” coach Porsch said. “Just that confidence, and growing up and maturing throughout the season. He had a bad tournament in Beloit but bounced right back and had a really good tournament in Garden City the next weekend. Just building off all that. Really proud of him, especially for a sophomore. A big jump.”
Porsch was dominant again in a weight class that had Seabolt, ranked fifth at 160, and Norton junior Brandon Vacura, who is ranked sixth. Porsch lost to Goddard’s Trevor Dopps in sudden victory of the Garden City tournament, his first high school loss since his freshman year. Dopps is ranked first at 160 in 5A. Since then, Porsch has continued to roll.
“He didn’t miss a beat,” coach Porsch said. “He came back the next weekend, and just got back to work. A lot of guys think that Dayton has never lost, but he has lost quite a bit, just maybe not in Kansas very much.”