5 things to watch: State Wrestling Preview
1. Derby looks for Class 6A title – The Panthers have enjoyed great success with 17th-year coach Bill Ross, but have not won a wrestling title since 1986. From ’07-17, Derby has finished in the top-five each year. This season, Derby has been ranked No. 1 in 6A all season. The Panthers won the Garden City regional, which has the top-five teams in the 6A rankings.
Derby has all the tools for a state title: elite talent, depth and plenty of bonus points possibilities. Last week, Washburn Rural had 26 pins, while Manhattan and Derby had 25 to lead the GC regional. Rural, Olathe South and Manhattan had 13 qualifiers, while Derby has 12.
The Class 5/6A tournament is at Hartman Arena in Park City, 4A is at the Tony’s Pizza Center in Salina, and 3-2-1A is at Fort Hays’ Gross Memorial Coliseum.
The Panthers have a high number of ranked wrestlers: sophomore 106-pounder Cody Woods is fifth, junior 126-pounder Bryce Wells is fifth, and 132-pound sophomore Cason Lindsey is second. Senior Cooper Ross is third at 145, and junior 160-pounder Taidon Wills is fifth. Senior Bryce Westmoreland is fourth at 195, and senior 285-pounder Ronnie Washington is fifth.
Derby has its three No. 1 wrestlers, all seniors, and whom are significant favorites at their weight classes: Crew Squires at 152, Cade Lindsey at 170, and Triston Wills at 182. The latter two have signed with Oklahoma State. In the rankings, Manhattan, Garden City and Washburn Rural are two through four. In the CIK area, Haysville-Campus senior Kale McCracken (40-0) is the only undefeated wrestler.
2. Goddard heavy favorite in 5A – The Lions have won four straight titles and are in a strong position to win a fifth crown. At the Arkansas City regional, Goddard won with 255.5 points, while Arkansas City was second at 220, and Maize third at 163.5. Those three teams continue to be ranked one through three in 5A.
Arkansas City tied Bonner Springs with the most qualifiers with 13, and Goddard had 12.
Goddard has its elite grouping of wrestlers with junior 113-pounder Jason Henschel, freshman 126-pounder Jerrdon Fisher, junior 160-pounder Trevor Dopps and senior 170-pounder Troy Fisher, who is ranked nationally.
As well, Goddard pulled several regional upsets, most notably at 120. Senior Lucas Glover, who is now ranked first, defeated three ranked wrestlers, including No. 1 and No. 2. Glover moved up two spots in the poll.
At 138, sophomore Jace Fisher bumped from third to second when he defeated Great Bend’s George Weber at regionals. Weber was ranked second. At 145, Cayleb Atkins moved from sixth to fourth after an impressive regional showing. Henschel and Fisher are both defending state champions.
Dopps could have a finals match with McPherson’s Scott Radke. In the regionals, Dopps defeated Radke by ultimate tiebreaker. They are both 1-2 in the poll.
3. Maize/Hendrickson with dominant seasons – While Goddard is the likely favorite for the 5A team title, the classification has multiple undefeated and nationally ranked wrestlers. In addition to Goddard’s Troy Fisher, Newton senior 220-pounder Wyatt Hendrickson is 33-0 and ranked third nationally.
Maize has three No. 1-ranked wrestlers: senior 132-pounder Aidan Campbell (40-2), junior 145-pounder Devin Gomez (46-0) and sophomore 182-pounder Kyle Haas (40-1). Haas took an upset loss to Taylon Peters at state last year and was 48-1. Hendrickson defeated St. James’ Cade Lautt (45-2) earlier in this season at the Garden City tournament. Lautt has been nationally ranked, too.
Additionally, Wichita Northwest senior Marcus Hicks, an Oklahoma football signing, is 32-1 at 285 pounds. At 195, Peters (32-2) could get a big finals matchup with Kansas City-Turner senior Cameron Bates (42-0). Gomez and Hendrickson are the lone 5A undefeated wrestlers from the CIK area.
4. Class 4A close race – Class 4A has had big changes with multiple teams changing classes. Arkansas City, the defending 4A titlists, moved to 5A. Scott City, the defending 3-2-1A champion, moved to 4A. Additionally, Bonner Springs and McPherson, both top-seven teams in 4A last year, are up to 5A. The changes have brought significant rankings adjustments each week. That included this week when Chanute moved from second to first, and Scott City went from first to third.
Pratt went from tenth to fourth. Chanute, which has never won a state wrestling title, has no wrestlers ranked in the top-two in any weight class.
Chanute qualified 10, while Abilene has nine, including junior Will Stroda, ranked first at 113 pounds. Marysville had 10, Pratt with nine and Scott City has six – though five are ranked. Junior Justus McDaniel and senior Wyatt Hayes are ranked first at 132 and 170, respectively. Junior Kaden Wren is ranked second at 138, while senior Theron Tucker and Kyle Sherwood are sixth at 145 and 220, respectively.
5. Colby front runner at 3-2-1A – Class 3-2-1A has a distinct difference among its top teams. No. 2-ranked Eureka, third-ranked Riley County, fourth-ranked Hoxie, and No. 5 Minneapolis all have at least two elite wrestlers. All but Hoxie have at least a pair of top-ranked wrestlers, and the Indians’ four qualifiers are all ranked and all won regional crowns.
That includes Hoxie senior 160-pounder Dayton Porsch, who has three state titles and just two losses in his high school career. No. 1 Colby and No. 6 Norton have plenty of depth. Colby, though, is the likely favorite because of its high-level talent at multiple weight classes. The Eagles have captured three 4A crowns since 2001.
Freshman 106-pounder Tyler Voss is the Eagles’ only No. 1 wrestler. The Eagles have four other ranked wrestlers, notably sophomore 195-pounder Hagan Booi.
One of the more high-profile matchups for any classification could occur in the 285-pound semifinals for the second straight year. Sabetha’s Elliott Strahm (29-0) and Lakin’s Hadley Panzer (35-0) are ranked first and second, respectively. Last year, Strahm defeated Panzer in sudden victory in the semifinals, and then won by sudden victory in the championship.