HAYS, Kan. - Colby and Eureka were ranked first and second, respectively, in Class 3-2-1A entering this weekend’s state tournament at Fort Hays State University’s Gross Memorial Coliseum. Colby had slightly more depth, but Eureka countered with more state favorites.
On Saturday, Colby coach Matt Sims acknowledged the Tornadoes’ impressive performance as Eureka captured the first athletic title in school history. Eureka won with 113 points, while Colby was second at 95 and Hoxie finished third at 86.
As expected, Eureka won titles with its pair of senior twins: Kendall Beitz at 113 and Kolby Beitz at 120. The duo combined for five state crowns in their career. However, Eureka sophomore Brennon Lowe, ranked third at 138, won a state title, too.
As well, Tornado sophomore Brent Escareno, also ranked third, took second at 152. Both Lowe and Escareno defeated a wrestler in a key match they had lost to earlier in the year. Last winter, the duo went a combined 3-4 at state.
“They wrestled the tournament you had to to win it,” Sims said. “Hey, we missed some opportunities, but man, you can’t take anything away from those guys. So four in the finals, that’s a big deal.”
Eureka became the first eastern Kansas team to win a 3-2-1A state title since 2001.
“We wrestled above my expectations,” coach Mike Davison said.
Davison has spent a decade with the program and helped Eureka win its first regional title since ’06. The only other title in Eureka history is a Scholar’s Bowl crown from 1988.
“We avenged some losses at the state tournament,” Davison said. “I feel that we peaked at the right time.”
Davison has gained permission from his administration to go to more western tournaments, which has helped.
“I have been blessed with great kids,” Davison said. “We have got a phenomenal kids’ club program, great junior high program that feeds into us, so extremely blessed right now.”
Eureka has gained the Hoisington tournament and especially benefited from entrance into the prestigious Newton Tournament of Champions in mid-January.
“I think that helped Brennan and Brent kind of get over that hump of the big stage,” Davison said.
Overall, though, Sims was very pleased with the season and especially a talented senior class with 138-pounder Kurt Schroeder, Kory Finley at 182 and Tucker Branum at 220.
“Each season is kind of special in its own right,” Sims said. “And this group was just really a tight-knit group, and tons of stories you could tell of things that happened off the mat that were just funny. It’s just been a great team to coach and work with.”
All three placed, and Finley earned two medals in his career, including a runner-up to Holcomb senior Tanner Johnson this year.
“He is good at what he does,” Sims said of Johnson said. “Your heart breaks for Finley. A guy you can build a program around. All my seniors, bust their tail and do everything right, and are good in the classroom. So just a pleasure to coach those guys.”
Colby had qualified eight, the most of any squad. Freshman Tyler Voss was ranked No. 1 at 106 and took third with a 40-8 record. Voss was the lone top-ranked wrestler for the Eagles. However, even if Voss had won, Sims didn’t know if Colby could have caught Eureka.
“I don’t know if we could have got to 115 either,” Sims said. “Outside of us putting a bunch of guys in the finals.”
Schroeder (34-9) took fifth, while junior Cade Lanning (24-21) made a great run to earn sixth. He beat Plainville’s Ben Hansen in sudden victory to earn a medal. Finley (38-12) and sophomore 195-pounder Hagan Booi (39-7) were each second. Lanning won one match in January.
“Real tough January, down and out,” Sims said. “Just credit to him just battling back to get a medal, so great performance, happy for him. Something to build on for his senior year for sure.”
FINAL TEAM RANKINGS
1. Eureka - 113
2. Colby - 95
3. Hoxie - 86
4. Norton - 72
5. Smith Center - 71.5
6. Riley County - 70
7. Sabetha - 69.5
8. Rossville - 67.5
9. Hoisington - 66
9. Plainville - 66
11. Beloit - 56
12. Minneapolis - 54
13. Wellsville - 43.5
14. Cimarron - 43
14. Phillipsburg - 43
16. Republic County - 42
16. Decatur Community - 42
18. Riverside - 36.5
19. Silver Lake - 32
20. Douglass - 30
106: Zach Archer (Rossville) def. DJ Knox (Goodland)
113: Kendall Beitz (Eureka) def. Brody White (Jayhawk Linn)
120: Kolby Beitz (Eureka) def. Alex Archer (Rossville)
126: Kai Allen (Silver Lake) def. Jacob Sisson (Phillipsburg)
132: Dylan Weimer (Hoxie) def. Beau Horn (Riverside)
138: Brennan Lowe (Eureka) def. Tristin Hauck (Minneapolis)
145: Luke Richard (Riley County) def. Brandon Rohr (Plainville)
152: Zane Colson (Rock Hills) def. Brent Escareno (Eureka)
160: Dayton Porsch (Hoxie) def. Tate Seabolt (Cimarron)
170: Jordan Finnesy (Plainville) def. Cole Amlong (Norton)
182: Tanner Johnson (Holcomb) def. Kory Finley (Colby)
195: Wyatt Pedigo (Hoisington) def. Hagan Booi (Colby)
220: Nick Davenport (Ell-Saline) def. Hayden Wiltfong (Norton)
285: Hadley Panzer (Lakin) def. Eyann Zimmerman (Republic County)