Wrestlers aim to defend title Saturday
Young LHS squad wants KVL crown
After a seemingly endless string of runner-up finishes at the Kaw Valley League Tournament, the Lansing High wrestlers finally captured the elusive league championship in 2007.
As difficult a feat as that was, defending that title will be even tougher when the meet begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at Lansing's Johnsmeyer Gymnasium.
Only five of the 14 wrestlers from last year's squad are back. Lansing doesn't have a wrestler at 112 pounds, and eight wrestlers are new to varsity - including seven freshmen.
"The league tournament's going to be an interesting deal because there's going to be a lot of people in there battling it out and knocking each other out," LHS coach Ron Averill said. "A lot of it's just going to depend on how everybody matches up with everybody in there."
Unlike previous seasons, there's not one or two dominant teams in the league. Instead, there are a handful of teams that could win the KVL crown - most likely Lansing, Santa Fe Trail or Tonganoxie.
With such a balanced field, individual matchups will take on even greater importance.
Fortunately for Lansing, its five returners all placed in the top four at league a year ago, including first-place finishes by seniors Nick Flynn and Dennis Wood and junior Grant Hinckley. Junior Wes Appleget was the KVL runner-up at 135 last year and junior Tyler Strouhal placed fourth.
Flynn said he has high expectations for the team's freshmen. He said they understand how to respond to pressure because they all have competed at a high level in club wrestling.
"I think most of the freshmen know what they're doing," Flynn said. "When you've got Dillon (Scanlon) and Tyler Baughman and Spencer Blew, they know when to peak and when they need to start working hard."
In a season where the Lions have taken their share of lumps because of youth, stiff competition, injuries and illness, Flynn said the Lions are peaking at the right time.
"I think everyone's pushing harder, and people realize state's going to be here before we know it," he said.