SFT edges Lansing for KVL wrestling title
Six Lions earn individual league titles
Perry The Lansing High wrestling team has waited 10 years to win another Kaw Valley League championship.
The Lions will have to wait at least one more.
Despite being the favorite to win the league championship, Lansing ultimately placed second with 210 points. Defending champ Santa Fe Trail won the title with 219.5.
"We were really hoping to get that additional marking up on the wall, you know those little markings for history," LHS coach Ron Averill said, referring to the plaques in the gymnasium commemorating league and regional championships. "I guess this is one we'll just have to pass up again."
The runner-up finish was surprising given the fact that Lansing had six individual league champions and two runners-up. Junior Kyle Buehler (135 pounds), senior Sean Flynn (140), junior Kyle Grape (145), junior Casey Caton (152), senior Dennis Kessler (171) and senior Ryan Civils (189) all were league champs.
"That's been the heart of our team," Averill said. "That's the way they were supposed to go, but through it all we had top competition all the way through there. The reality of wrestling is it can go either way any day of the week, and the great thing about these guys is they stepped up. The consistency that they've been able to show as they've met the high level of competition has been an encouragement to me because that's what we have to be able to have going into regionals and state."
Sophomore Nick Flynn (130) and senior Logan Ryan (215) each placed second by just one point. Nick Flynn let a 3-0 lead slip away and lost 5-4 to Basehor-Linwood's Zach Davis. Ryan fell behind 5-0 against Trail's Jake Kober before falling 7-6.
Two Lions - sophomore Dennis Wood (103) and junior Scott Keller (112) - placed third. Sophomore Chance Thackston (119) was fourth.
Lansing likely would have had a seventh champion, but senior Lance Fink missed the tournament to take the ACT test. Fink went undefeated in league duals at 160 pounds and was the favorite to win the title in his weight class. That would have been worth 18 more points for Lansing's score.
Although Fink's absence hurt, Averill said it wasn't what beat the Lions on Saturday. What beat them was the fact that they failed to seize every opportunity that was presented to them. The close losses in the finals cost them a few points. Caton lost a point after his victory in the 152-pound finals for taking his shoulder straps down after leaving the mat but before officially signing out. Thackston lost his lead in the third period of his consolation championship and got pinned. Wood dropped a close match in the championship semifinals that could have gone his way.
Averill said all of those missed opportunities made the difference between being champions and placing second.
"I guess the reality that is really shows these guys is each and every point is important and each and every wrestler is important, regardless of where they're matching or what their level is," Averill said. "Whether they're going out there and just winning one or two matches for us or they're in the championship, it's all huge. I guess it's better to learn it now than when regionals comes."
Averill said he wasn't surprised by Santa Fe Trail's strong showing. In fact, the Chargers were the team he thought would be the toughest to beat at the league meet. That certainly proved to be the case.
The Chargers placed seven wrestlers in the championship finals but had just two individual champs. It was their effort in the consolation finals that made the biggest difference. They had five wrestlers earn third-place finishes.
"A lot of times the tournament champions are determined by your guys that are working through the back side, earning all of those points through the back side," Averill said. "That was Santa Fe's big deal."
Averill admitted he was disappointed with the second-place finish, but he said it would do nothing to derail Lansing's hopes of qualifying a full squad for state and winning a Class 5A state championship. If anything, he said Saturday's performance would serve as greater motivation during the next two weeks.
"Hopefully it will be another shot in the arm and a kick in the butt," he said. "(Losing) takes the wind out of you. You don't want to lose. You hate saying that second place is losing, but when you should be champs, it's a loss."
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