Grape takes state
Lansing sophomore only third champion in Lions’ history
Wichita There was a stretch midway through the season when Lansing High sophomore wrestler Kyle Grape lost three out of five matches, but all the while, LHS coach Ron Averill said not to worry.
It was simply preparation for something greater, Averill said.
That preparation paid off Saturday night at the Kansas Coliseum when Grape dominated Wichita Bishop Carroll's Tom McDonald in the Class 5A 140-pound state championship match, 15-9. In doing so, Grape became just the third individual wrestling state champion in LHS history, and the first in seven years.
"Ever since last year's state tournament, his goal was to be a state champion this year," Averill said. "He had several bumps in the road along this way, he had some key losses to quality opponents, and through it all we knew that we needed to play on those to get ourselves to this point. All that stuff is preparation for this point, so that was a huge thing for him to be able to come to this point, put all those things together and just make it happen."
Grape made a businesslike march to the finals as he pinned his first opponent, won his second match by a 6-4 score and then pinned Arkansas City's Levi Anstine in the semifinals.
At that point, Averill said he met with Grape to talk strategy for the championship match. He said he could tell at that point that Grape was focused and ready to go.
"We just talked about what he needed to do was take all the garbage out of his head, get out there and wrestle his match," Averill said. "He'd been working all year, and we knew for him to compete at the higher level he just needed to wrestle his match and be aggressive in doing that."
Grape's next opponent - McDonald - never stood a chance.
"Our goal was to get out there and make things happen right at the start - take it to the other guy," Averill said.
That's exactly what Grape did.
He began the championship match on the offensive, erupted to a 6-0 lead in the first 31 seconds and never looked back.
McDonald made a brief rally as he scored a point on an escape and then made a two-point takedown to pull within 6-3. Grape responded with a quick reversal and eventually pushed his lead to 11-3. As the third period began and Grape was still nursing a six-point lead, he continued to attack in search of the pin.
"I wanted the pin really bad," Grape said. "Once I got him on his back the first time, I wanted to get it over with. It would've been that much better if I would have."
The pin never came, but it didn't matter. Throughout the match there was no question who the Class 5A state champion would be.
"It means a lot," said Grape, who finished the season with a 35-6 record and became the first Lansing wrestler since Chris Swisher in 1997 to win a state title. "When I got fourth (last year), I said I was going to finish my high school career and be a three-time state champion. I've got two more years to prove it, and I'm going to do it. I'm already thinking about next year. I can't wait until it comes around again."