Pin king pleased with year, desires more as a senior
It's hard to imagine Ryan Civils would have caught anybody by surprise at the Class 5A state wrestling tournament.
After all, the Lansing High junior entered state with a 29-5 record - 26 of those wins by pin. A statistic like that simply is hard to ignore.
Still, there's reason to believe some wrestlers outside of northeast Kansas might not have been aware of just how dominant Civils had been throughout the season.
In its pre-state edition, Kansas Preps Weekly Magazine listed the state's pin leaders. Jacob Marrs of Clay Center was listed at No. 1 with 24. Civils and his 26 pins were nowhere to be found.
The real state leader was hiding in the shadows.
"I just go out there and do what I have to do," Civils said of his aggressive nature on the mat. "I went to Prairie View and didn't think I was going to pin the guy from Olathe, and then I came in and stuck him in the end. You've gotta fight all the way through the match and the pin will come."
Civils may not have been known by all prior to the state meet, but when he arrived in Wichita the 189-pound junior made sure his presence was known quickly.
He pinned his first-round opponent, Clint Bruce of Arkansas City, in 25 seconds. Then he almost knocked out his second-round opponent, Paola's Jimmy Stewart, in the first minute of their match before logging his 28th pin of the season.
Marrs pinned just one opponent at state, meaning he and Austin Kingsbury of Smith Center finished the year with 25 pins - three shy of Civils' total.
Civils is a guy who understands just how tough it is to earn a pin, so he said he had plenty of respect for the guy who ended his state title dreams with a pin. Eventual state champion Sean Pietrzyk took down Civils with a second-period pin in the championship semifinals.
"I've only been pinned twice this year," Civils said. "I wish I could've done better in my semifinal match and been in the finals, but he was a state champion two years ago too. Next year is my year to shine."
Civils bounced back and placed fourth overall as he ended his season with a 32-7 record.
"I'm happy as heck," Civils said of winning a state medal. "I'm top four in the state right now, and rankings mean everything. A lot of college scouts are out looking for juniors, and I'm just hoping in the next year I'll start getting letters from colleges."
LHS coach Ron Averill won't be surprised if colleges come calling for Civils in the next year. Civils is one of the strongest wrestlers he has ever coached, Averill said, and pointed out Civils' unusual sense of balance that has made him such an unpredictable wrestler.
"His strength and sense of balance and center of gravity are such a unique blend that it's hard to figure him out sometimes," Averill said. "He has kind of an unorthodox style of wrestling. He has a sense of balance where it's hard to anticipate where he's going to be coming from. He's one of those guys who can be in a match with the very best."
Averill said the primary things Civils needs to improve on for his senior year will be his hip positioning and being even more aggressive at taking his shots.
Civils said that won't be a problem. He said he's willing to do whatever it takes to reach his goal of being a state champion.
"There's that little itty-bitty piece that's not completed yet," Civils said of his desire to win a state title. "It needs to be completed next year."