Four in a row for Kessler, Flynn
Nobody needs to ask Dennis Kessler if he's ready wrestle Friday and Saturday at the Class 5A state tournament.
Kessler, a Lansing High senior, has been dreaming about competing at the Kansas Coliseum for days.
"I haven't been able to sleep," Kessler said. "The images of state keep going through my head again and again. Just everything that I know that's going to be there, like, I keep getting the image and the smell. You can't explain the smell of state. Every wrestling mat there is brand new.
"When I go to sleep, the song to the last march (the walk of champions before the state finals) keeps running through my head."
Few Lansing wrestlers know the state tournament as well as Kessler. He and senior Sean Flynn are the only current Lions to be four-time state qualifiers.
Kessler qualified for state at 135 pounds as a freshman, at 140 as a sophomore and at 152 as a junior. All three years he came home empty-handed. This year he wrestles at 171.
Flynn, now a 140-pounder, placed sixth last year at 130 pounds.
"It was kind of a fluke that I made it to state my freshman year, so it means a lot to make it to state all four years," Flynn said. "It shows that I haven't gotten worse."
Flynn has shown steady improvement throughout his career. He enters the state tournament this year ranked No. 2 in the state with a 37-1 record. Kessler also has improved year after year. This season he is ranked No. 4 in the state with a 26-1 record and a No. 3 state ranking.
Flynn said his goal is to be a state champion this year. Kessler wants to be a champion, too, but more than anything he simply wants a medal.
"I haven't placed any of the other three years, so I feel like I have no choice. I have to bring home a medal," Kessler said.