Wrestlers to face first test Saturday
The Lansing High wrestling team beefed up its schedule this season, and the tougher tournament slate includes the season-opener.
LHS begins its season Saturday at the Kaw Valley League dual tournament at Basehor-Linwood High School. The tournament is the first of its kind for the league, and it is different from the annual Kaw Valley League meet.
The first pool competes beginning at 9 a.m. Teams in that pool are Santa Fe Trail, Mill Valley, Basehor-Linwood, Tonganoxie and Piper. Lansing, Perry-Lecompton, Bishop Ward and Bonner Springs compete in the second pool starting at 1 p.m.
After the pool matches are complete, the winners of each pool will square off for first place and runners-up will compete for third place.
"I want to take first place," said LHS junior Dennis Wood, a returning state qualifier at 103 pounds. "As a team we should take second or first, but we should definitely win our pool."
First place is a reasonable goal for Lansing. After all, LHS placed second at the KVL championships last year and a number of wrestlers are back from that group. Among them are defending league champions Kyle Buehler and Casey Caton, league runner-up Nick Flynn and third-place finishers Dennis Wood and Scott Keller.
Still, despite having a wealth of experience on the roster, the Lions' varsity will be loaded with new faces. Plus, senior Kyle Grape - a 2005 state champion and 2006 state runner-up - is expected to miss most of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, so his position is open too. So is the heavyweight spot because junior Brad Terron is out with a leg injury.
"It's kind of an odd feeling because we don't have our true varsity lineup yet," LHS coach Ron Averill said. "It's going to be a different way to start out the season. I'm not sure how I like it yet."
Averill said he is eager to see how some of the new varsity wrestlers handle their first competition.
"We have a whole lot of these guys where I'm not sure how they'll stack up to the competition," he said. "It's going to be interesting to see who steps up and is really willing to take the bull by the horns and make something happen and who isn't."
Regardless of how Lansing's lineup looks, Buehler said it would be a mistake for anybody to take the Lions lightly. Just because they are a younger group than in years past, they still are an experienced bunch.
"If there's any reason for somebody to think we're a sleeper team, it's because we lost the seniors last year," he said. "But once we wrestle them, they'll see how tough we are. I know we're tough, and we'll show them whenever we see them."