Flynn savors Classic experience
Kansas City, Kan. Sean Flynn has yet to decide where he will wrestle in college, but the Lansing High senior already has a good idea what college practices will be like.
After all, he spent the past week training with college-caliber and college-bound wrestlers in preparation for his appearance in Tuesday night's Metro Classic. The Classic, in its 14th year, is the annual wrestling border war pitting top seniors from the Kansas and Missouri against each other.
"It's pretty nice to get in that environment where everybody is here ready to work hard, train hard and get ready for this dual," said Flynn, who placed second at state in Kansas Class 5A this year. "There are no slouches on this team. Everybody's been working hard, so it's a good atmosphere to get some good wrestling in."
Included on Team Kansas were six state champions, three second-place finishers and three third-place medalists. Team Missouri's roster boasted five champions, two runners-up and five third-place medalists.
Flynn's primary practice partners were Blue Valley 145-pounder Hunter Madl, the fourth-place finisher in Class 6A, and 5A state champion 145-pound state champion Andy Hurla of St. Thomas Aquinas.
"Everybody here is good," Flynn said.
During the week leading up to the Classic, trash talk brewed amongst fans who predicted Team Missouri would whip Team Kansas because Missouri's wrestlers usually have won the contest. The brunt of the talk took place on the Kansas Wrestling Coaches' Association's message boards. In particular, Hurla was called out as a candidate to lose badly to undefeated state champion Eric Graham of Park Hill.
Kansas lost its first three matches, but rebounded with a victory by Josh Sharp of Fort Scott. Then, in the upset of the day, Hurla scored a come-from-behind victory that ignited Team Kansas to a 27-25 victory in the team standings.
Flynn didn't fare as well in his match against Brian Graham. A state champion, Graham posted a 43-1 record during the high school season and proved to be equally tough Tuesday night as he handed Flynn a 9-1 defeat. Graham recorded a takedown in each of the first two periods and took a 4-0 lead into the third period. Then, in an attempt to rally, Flynn got caught out of position twice as Graham scored more points.
It wasn't the first time Flynn and Graham had wrestled.
"We wrestled at the Fall Brawl in the semifinals and he beat me 9-6, so it was a little closer match last time," Flynn said.
Despite the loss, Flynn said he loved his experience at the Metro Classic.
"I was here to have fun," he said. "I wrestled my best. I really couldn't ask for more."
Flynn said he was honored to be one of just 15 wrestlers chosen to represent Kansas, and he said it was special to be included with such a talented group of competitors.
"I'm very proud to be in this, and I'm proud to represent (Kansas)," he said. "I hope I represented it good. I tried my best to go out there and wrestle, and that's pretty much all I could do."
Flynn's next task is to finalize his college decision. He said he expects to decide within the next week between South Dakota State University and Central Missouri State. He plans to participate in Army ROTC in college, and he has been offered a three-year advanced ROTC scholarship from South Dakota State.