LHS wrestlers shine again
The fact that six state qualifiers returned to this year's Lansing High wrestling assured LHS should have a pretty good group of grapplers.
After their first two varsity meets, however, it has become clear that calling the Lions "good" might be an understatement. This group proved to be more of a wrecking crew as it marched to a second-place team finish two weeks ago at Spring Hill before placing fourth out of 24 teams at the Eudora Tournament of Champions.
Lansing was fourth with 233.5 points, trailing only first-place St. Thomas Aquinas (fourth in Class 6A last year), Blue Valley (ranked second in Class 5A this year), and Emporia (second in 6A last year). Simply put, the Lions are keeping good company.
"We're getting a lot better, we're going harder, and everyone is expecting higher things from each other," sophomore Kyle Grape said. "Just to be up there with (those teams) feels really good. It shows a lot of people that we're still here and we're not going anywhere."
In fairness to those other teams, the Lions never expected to be anywhere but among the best this year. That's why LHS coach Ron Averill said he's not surprised by the team's early success; rather, he said he was pleased his wrestlers were meeting their goals.
"I don't think the level of expectation has changed," he said. "It's just becoming more of a reality of where we can go and how we can compete with these guys. We saw some good competition this week and it was a valuable experience for all of us, both for the experience and the ability to hit those higher levels of competition."
The Lions definitely rose to the challenge Saturday at Eudora. Freshman Nick Flynn continued his dominating start to his high school career as he upped his record to 9-1 and rolled to the 112-pound title. Grape, a fourth-place medalist at state last year, was Lansing's other individual champion as he bumped his record to 8-1 with a first-place finish at 140 pounds.
Junior Sean Flynn was second at 130 pounds, sophomore Kyle Buehler was third at 125 pounds and junior Stewart Jones placed fourth at 135 pounds.
Lansing's other placers were junior Ryan Civils (fifth at 189 pounds), junior Brett Wessell (sixth at 215 pounds) and junior Logan Ryan (sixth at 275 pounds).
"All of our placers did a super job," Averill said. "To get in the top six at this tournament, it's a real accomplishment."
Following Wednesday night's meet at Bishop Ward (results can be found at lansingcurrent.com), the Lions' varsity will be off until Jan. 6 when it returns to action at its home meet.
Averill said the squad will continue to practice throughout the holiday break to maintain its conditioning and focus, but he said the workouts would be toned down a bit.
"Right now what we have to work on is keeping our focus," Averill said. "The reality of it is that Christmas is around the corner and these guys have been practicing like men. At the level they've been practicing, honestly, they're feeling like they're about ready for a break. And we all are. My job right now is to keep them encouraged and keep them pumped up and keep them focused."