Prochaska caps challenging week for Beloit with title

Finals at the 2020 3-2-1A Boys Wrestling Kansas State Championship at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays on Saturday, February 29, 2020. (Photo: Everett Royer, www.ksportsimages.com)
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HAYS, Kan. - The Class 3-2-1A pre-state rankings for Class 152 had Eureka’s Brennan Lowe atop the poll. Hoxie junior Aidan Baalman ranked second, and Beloit junior Hunter Prochaska stood third. Hoxie and Beloit often attend the same meets. Prochaska had lost three times to Baalman this year. Lowe competes on the eastern side.

On Friday, Prochaska defeated Perry-Lecompton senior Grant Roush, another eastern wrestler, in a 6-3 semifinals decision at the 3-2-1A state tournament. On the other half, Lowe bested Baalman, 12-7.

Saturday’s final yielded a matchup between Lowe and Prochaska.

“We definitely like seeing new people, because we see too many times in our schedule, we see people over and over again,” Beloit coach Andy Niemzyck said. “And then it becomes a mental block, a mental issue with kids.”

Lowe overpowered Baalman with his strength. In the title, Prochaska wore down Lowe and earned a 6-3 decision for his first state championship at Fort Hays State University’s Gross Memorial Coliseum. Niemczyk, in his 34th season with Beloit, had tears as he came off the mat.

“We knew he had the potential all season to do that, to put together that kind of a match against that quality of a kid, and he picked a great time to put together an outstanding match,” Niemczyk said. “We were so thrilled. What a great end to a good season.”

Prochaska was Beloit’s only finalist. He finished 29-7 as the Trojans took fourth with 75 points. Beloit had encountered a highly challenging week. On Wednesday, the coaching staff and an instructor had to use CPR and an AED to revive JV wrestler Cooper Adams.

“It was honestly pretty difficult on Wednesday,” Prochaska said.

He had collapsed just before practice started. Adams has since traveled to Wichita and is expected to go to Denver. Adams and his family is well-known in the Beloit area. Prochaska has been around Adams throughout much of his life and called him a good friend.

“We all got into the practice room a little bit sad,” Prochaska said. “But it was a good practice, and I think it really helped us get better.”

Niemczyk said Beloit expected Lowe to shoot “a lot.” He wanted Prochaska to stay low and defend the legs.

“Then we had to attack, and he did just a marvelous job,” Niemczyk said. “He followed the game plan, and we knew we had to keep the score close, and he did a fantastic job wearing him down when he rode him for a little while there. He wore him down a little bit, and I think that was the difference in the match. We took the wind out of his sails.”

In addition, Beloit sophomore Tate Kadel (35-10) took fifth at 145. Sophomore Brennan Walker (38-5) earned third at 182, and Creighton Johnson (39-5) was third at 285. All three wrestlers were ranked fourth.