Wrestlers return to mat tonight
With two tournament titles under its belt in two tries, the Lansing High wrestling team entered winter break brimming with confidence.
The No. 1 ranked Lions had experienced a lot of success in a short period of time, and they weren't even at full strength.
Lansing returns from the three-week break at 5:30 p.m. today when it travels to Carbondale to take on Santa Fe Trail and Perry-Lecompton in Kaw Valley League dual action. The LHS wrestlers enter the duals more confident than ever because, for the first time all season, they have everybody back.
"I think we're all really confident right now," said senior Sean Flynn, who owns an undefeated record at 140 pounds. "We've worked our way up since most of us were freshmen and sophomores, and this is where we've wanted to be all through high school."
In addition to Flynn, senior Logan Ryan (215) and junior Kyle Buehler (135) are unbeaten this year. Now the Lions will become stronger with returning state qualifiers Casey Caton, Dennis Kessler and Ryan Civils returning to the lineup.
Caton was a state qualifier last year at 160, but he lost weight when he had his tonsils removed two months ago. He kept the weight off and edged senior Jeff Terrill in a wrestle-off for the spot at 152 this week.
Kessler, a state qualifier last year at 152, beat out fellow senior Jordan Pratt for the varsity spot at 171.
The other big move came at 189 where senior Ryan Civils - back from a suspension that kept him out of the first two tournaments - reclaimed his spot from sophomore Brad Terron. Civils placed fourth at state last year at 189.
Although some positions have changed, LHS coach Ron Averill said the moves are not permanent.
"We'll see what happens next week," he said, noting that he would conduct wrestle-offs for varsity positions each week for the rest of the season.
Although the varsity roster may change next week, Averill's focus is on this week and, specifically, tonight. Lansing will face arguably its toughest dual opponent of the season in Santa Fe Trail.
SFT is a traditional 4A powerhouse, and it has been a thorn in Lansing's side in recent years. The Chargers won last year's meeting, 37-21.
"We're pretty excited about what we have for opportunities on Thursday night with Santa Fe Trail," Averill said. "To be honest, I'm not sure what they have for a complete lineup. We just know that we have a real good lineup of our own, so we're anxious to take the shot and see what we can make happen with them."
Lansing's dual against Perry isn't expected to be as highly contested because the Kaws lack depth. The Lions won last year's meeting handily, 66-18. Regardless, Flynn said they would take the dual seriously and use it as an opportunity to improve.
"We've already seen them once at Eudora, so we know what to expect out of them," he noted.
SENIOR NIGHT ON TAP NEXT WEEK
Averill said he was excited for his squad's next big outing when it takes on Piper and Christian Prep Academy at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 12. Neither of the opponents are very tough, but Averill said it will be an emotional night anyway. After all, it will be senior night and Lansing has nine seniors. Those seniors - Bobby Hamilton, Sean Flynn, Jeff Terrill, Dennis Abernathy, Lance Fink, Jordan Pratt, Dennis Kessler, Ryan Civils and Logan Ryan - will make their final home appearance as Lions.
When Lansing travels to La Cygne on Jan. 14 to compete in Prairie View Invitational, it will mark the Lions' final trip to that tournament.
"We've been told that we're going to be able to get into the Bobcat Classic (at Basehor-Linwood) next year, so this is our last year going down there," Averill said. "Hopefully we'll be able to go out with a bang."
The tournament format at Prairie View will be different this year. Instead of a regular bracket tournament, it will be a dual tournament this year.