Buehler a champion
Junior’s state title highlights otherwise dismal day for Lions
Wichita Lansing High wrestling coach Ron Averill's words seem almost prophetic in hindsight.
After Kyle Buehler placed fourth at state as a 125-pound sophomore, Averill said, "He's one of those guys that I truly believe we'll be seeing on the championship (podium) within the next couple years."
On Saturday at the Class 5A state tournament at the Kansas Coliseum, Buehler ascended the championship podium as a state champion at 135 pounds. He beat St. Thomas Aquinas junior Mark Millstead in the finals, 3-2, and became the fourth state champion in Lansing wrestling history.
The match remained scoreless for the first two periods, but Buehler took a 1-0 lead with 1:22 left in the third period when he scored on an escape. He later extended his lead to 3-0 on a reversal, but Millstead answered back with a reversal to pull within 3-2. Millstead tried to get Buehler to near-fall in the final seconds, but Buehler refused to let his shoulders hit the mat. That effort preserved the title.
"It's the best feeling I've ever had. It feels great," Buehler said of winning the state championship. "I've been working for this my whole life. (I've been) wrestling since I was four. It finally paid off."
In the 140-pound final match, Lansing senior Sean Flynn squared off with Bishop Carroll sophomore Mitch Arnold. The match was even for most of the first period until Arnold shot in and recorded the first take-down with 17 seconds left in the opening period for a 2-0 lead. Arnold earned an escape point just seconds into the second period and then extended his lead to 5-0 with another takedown in the final seconds of the period. Flynn finally broke the shutout when he scored on an escape with just two seconds to go in the period.
Trailing 5-1 entering the third period, Flynn scored again on an escape. The rally was short-lived, though, as Arnold scored on a reversal. After Flynn scored on an escape to pull within 7-3, Arnold was allowed to stall for almost 40 seconds before Flynn was awarded a stall point to make it 7-4. After the penalty point, Arnold came back to life and recorded another take-down. A late escape by Flynn finalized the 9-5 score in favor of Arnold.
In the 145-pound final, Lansing junior Kyle Grape - a state champ last year at 140 pounds - was paired against St. Thomas Aquinas senior Andy Hurla.
Usually the aggressor early in his matches, Grape came out on the attack again but misfired on a couple early shots. Hurla capitalized on a miss and recorded a take-down for a 2-0 lead. Grape scored on an escape late in the first period to pull within a point.
Two more take-downs by Hurla in the second period allowed him to build a 7-3 lead entering the third period. That's when Grape went back on the offensive. He scored on an escape with 1:32 left to pull within 7-4. He then recorded a take-down with 49 seconds left in the match to pull within 7-6. He cut Hurla loose for an escape point in order to set up another take-down opportunity.
Hurla then went on the defensive and carefully avoided Grape's attempts to strike. Hurla was called for stalling twice in the final 15 seconds and Grape was awareded a stall point to make it 8-7 with seven seconds left, but Grape never was able to record the necessary take-down to earn the victory.
Buehler's state championship capped what was otherwise a frustrating day for Lansing. LHS went just 4-10 in its matches Saturday after cruising through Friday's competition and holding down first place. Lansing ultimately placed fifth as a team with 109.5 points. Bishop Carroll won the state title with 146 points. Kapaun-Mt. Carmel was second with 142, followed by Valley Center (138) and St. Thomas Aquinas (130.5).
KESSLER, RYAN PLACE SIXTH
Lansing High seniors Dennis Kessler and Logan Ryan both ended their high school careers as state medalists after coming up a round short last year. Kessler, a four-time state qualifier, became a medalist for the first time when he advanced to the medal rounds with a come-from-behind victory Friday night. He went 0-2 on Saturday, though, and placed sixth. Ryan also went 0-2 on Saturday. He was defeated, 4-0, by Sean Jasperse of Gardner-Edgerton.
Lansing High 103-pound sophomore Dennis Wood's season ended one match shy of the medal rounds, but the small sophomore didn't go down without a fight. Wood squared off against Aquinas' Connor McCarthy, a state-ranked wrestler all season. Wood came out on the attack, collected the first take-down and took a 2-0 lead into the second period. McCarthy evened the score with a reversal early in the second period, but the match remained deadlocked the rest of the way. In overtime, McCarthy finally got behind Wood and picked up two points for the victory. Wood ended his season with a 31-10 record.
Junior 152-pounder Casey Caton went quickly in his match against Nick Barnes of Valley Center. Barnes pinned Caton in 47 seconds. Caton ended his season one match shy of a state medal. His final record was 24-5.
Senior 189-pounder Ryan Civils also ended his season in the quarterfinals. He lost to Alex Whitehill of McPherson, 5-4.
Lansing's rough round cost it in the team standings as it fell from first to fourth place.
Four Lansing High wrestlers competed in Saturday's early session as they began action in the critical consolation matches. Three Lions - sophomore 103-pounder Dennis Wood, junior 152-pounder Casey Caton and senior 189-pounder Ryan Civils - all kept their dreams of winning a state medal alive as they picked up big victories. Sophomore 130-pounder Nick Flynn - a sixth-place medalist last year at 112 - was the only early casualty as he dropped a 1-0 decision to David Criswell of Valley Center.
Wood opened the day with an all-around solid match as he collected a 12-4 major decision against Joe Newberry of Shawnee Heights. Caton needed overtime to hang on for a 4-3 decision against Jason Ramirez of Arkansas City. Civils needed just 40 seconds to pin Alex Elsen of Great Bend.
By winning their matches, Wood, Caton and Civils moved within a victory of advancing to the medal rounds.
Through the consolation cross-bracketing round, Lansing continued its wire-to-wire hold on first place. LHS was in first with 105.5 points after the round. Bishop Carroll was second with 102, followed by St. Thomas Aquinas (97.5), Kapaun-Mt. Carmel (95) and Valley Center (93).