Lions hope to pin KVL foes one last time
Wrestlers aim to claim league title
When Lansing High's wrestling team squared off against the other eight Kaw Valley League wrestling programs in dual competition this season, the result was the same: a LHS victory.
Now the Lions will try to prove, once and for all, that they are the best team in the league at 9 a.m. Saturday when they travel to Perry-Lecompton High School for the Kaw Valley League Tournament.
"Our team has been strong all year," said sophomore Nick Flynn. "We're focusing on state, but we realize that league is the next thing, so we're all pumped and ready to go out there and grab it."
LHS last won the league title in 1996, but it came close last year.
Lansing was one of the favorites to win the KVL title in 2005, but it was dealt two early strikes when tournament favorites Stewart Jones (135 pounds) and Ryan Civils (189) were unable to compete. Jones was ill and Civils caught ringworm. As a result, LHS ultimately placed second behind Santa Fe Trail.
Given what happened last year, LHS coach Ron Averill said the main prerogative this year is to keep his guys healthy.
"As long as we can stay healthy and strong, we should be OK," he said. "You come in there and anything can happen. The key is just to keep them all focused and fired up on the mat."
Focus shouldn't be a problem, Civils said. He said Lansing's lone non-first-place finish this season - a runner-up finish to nationally ranked Oak Park (Mo.) at the Jan. 28 Baldwin Invitational - served as a wake-up call to any Lions who might be lacking in focus.
"Oak Park is ranked third in the nation, so coming in second to them was the best thing that could happen to us," Civils said, meaning that the Lions didn't lose by underperforming. "The main thing was we did some good wrestling, so it came out right. Now we're ready to go. Everybody is going at it hard."
LHS, the No. 1 ranked team in Kansas Class 5A this year, returns a number of top finishers from last year's KVL tournament. Senior 140-pounder Sean Flynn was last year's champ at 130. Junior 135-pounder Kyle Buehler placed first last year at 125. Five other Lions placed second last year. Nick Flynn, now at 130, placed second at 112. Junior 145-pounder Kyle Grape was second in 2005 at 140. Senior 152-pounder Jeff Terrill was the runner-up last year at 145.
Senior Logan Ryan will try to win the 215-pound title after placing second last year, and junior Casey Caton, the runner-up at 160 in 2005, will shoot for a 152-pound title on Saturday.
LIONS DOMINATE LEAGUE FOES
Lansing made quick work of KVL opponents Mill Valley, Bonner Springs and Tonganoxie during a triple-dual Thursday night at THS.
LHS rolled to a 74-6 victory against Mill Valley, won a 76-6 victory over Bonner Springs and then cruised pas Tongie, 65-12.
The victories capped a 16-0 season for the Lions in dual competition.
It wasn't a surprise that Lansing won all three of its duals Thursday, but what was surprising was the performance of freshman Tyler Strouhal at 275 pounds.
Strouhal was slated to wrestle JV on Thursday, but was bumped up to varsity at the last minute after an injury to Brad Terron. Strouhal seized the opportunity by winning his first two matches. He pinned Tyler Hancock of Mill Valley in 1 minute, 47 seconds. Then he accepted a forfeit from Bonner.
In a spirited final match, Tongie senior Jeff Frank pinned Strouhal late in the third period.