Seniors to showcase skills at home one last time
Don't expect Lansing High wrestling coach Ron Averill to shed many tears or be too distracted by the hoopla that often comes with senior night ceremonies.
No, Averill expects to remain focused on his squad's duals with Piper and Christian Brothers Academy at 5:30 p.m. today at LHS. Sure, he will happily enjoy the senior recognition, but he'll closet his emotions until later.
"It's going to be a huge night," he said. "But to be honest, the night that's going to be hard for me is the night after the state tournament. Those are going to be a little bit emotional for me."
All eight of the seniors have competed on the varsity squad at some point this year, and six of them - Ryan Civils, Sean Flynn, Bobby Hamilton, Logan Ryan, Lance Fink and Dennis Kessler - competed at the state tournament last year. The other two - Jeff Terrill and Jordan Pratt - are chasing that goal but must beat out teammates to earn their shot.
The state tournament is six weeks away, though, so the Lions will use tonight's duals to continue their preparation for the postseason.
"I just want to go out there, have fun and do what we're supposed to do," Kessler said of his final home matches. He admitted, however, "I can't wait until Thursday when I get to walk across (the mat) with my mom and dad."
Averill is expecting a good crowd to be on hand to honor the seniors because all eight have played a key role in the Lions' return to the top of the state rankings. It's a rise that has been in the works for six years.
"A lot of these guys have been wrestling with us since seventh grade," Averill said. "From seventh grade on, we've had some high expectations for this year. I've had high expectations as a coach, and they've had high expectations as athletes.
"One thing that probably helped these guys in the past was the fact that the last couple years we've had very few, if any, upperclassmen," he added. "Because of that, these guys not only are seniors, but they have had multiple years of varsity experience."
If Lansing performs at its best tonight, it shouldn't have much trouble with Christian Brothers or Piper because both opponents lack the depth and experience of LHS.
The toughest competition this week should come Saturday when Lansing travels to the Prairie View Invitational in La Cygne. This year's tournament will feature a pool play dual format, with the winner of each pool moving on to the finals. Averill said his squad would use multiple wrestlers at different weights throughout the day to showcase its depth, keep wrestlers healthy and give more guys an opportunity to compete.
"That ought to give us a pretty good advantage when we get to the final rounds later in the day," he said.
This will be Lansing's final year competing at the Prairie View Invitational. LHS was invited to compete at the Bobcat Classic at Basehor-Linwood next year. The Bobcat Classic has become one of the top tournaments in the Kansas City Metro area during recent years, and Averill said the Lions were excited to join the field next year.
Lansing will take on one of the top 3A teams in the state when it travels to Silver Lake on Thursday.