HOISINGTON — The Hoisington High School wrestling team has nine athletes making the trip to Fort Hays State University today for the Class 3-1A state tournament.
Brandon Ball, the Cardinals’ regional champion in the 120-pound weight class, will meet with Taylor Murphy of Oakley at Gross Memorial Coliseum in the first round.
“Brandon’s wrestled him twice and pinned him twice,” Hoisington head coach Dan Schmidt said. “For Brandon, I guess that looks good, but he’s just one kid out of nine that we’ve got going, and a lot of these kids at state we’ve seen before.
“Sometimes that familiarity can work against you. You can beat these kids two or three times in a season, but eventually, they’re going to know how to wrestle you.”
Ball is ranked No. 4 in his weight class in the latest Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association poll. Murphy is not ranked.
“This is Brandon’s first year at the state meet, but he’s won the kids federation tournament several times,” Schmidt said. “He’s no stranger to big tournaments.
“If you ask him if he’ll be happy with fourth or fifth, he’ll look you straight in the face and say, ‘No.’”
Familiarity is the norm for Hoisington, which matches up against several wrestlers it has seen this season.
“We’ve wrestled Marion three times in the last month, basically,” Schmidt said. “They are taking six wrestlers. Chance Demel is wrestling Coomes and I think he’s seen him five times already.
“There were two outstanding regionals in the western part of Kansas, and when you get out here, you’re going to be forced to see most kids at least once this year.”
It can, however, help a wrestler’s confidence.
“When you see six or seven guys in the brackets that you’ve beat during the season, you know you belong here,” Schmidt said. “On the flip side, if you have a few wrestlers who have beaten you on the bracket, it can work against you.”
No. 6-ranked Demel (145) meets Ross Coomes of Phillipsburg in the first round.
Eric Hellerud (182) is ranked No. 4 and will wrestle Easton Sommer of Mission Valley.
Cayton Janousek (195) is ranked No. 5 and faces Connor Winters of Stockton.
No. 4-ranked Cody Batt (220) challenges Riley Callahan of Silver Lake.
Matt Manka (152) squares off with Hoxie’s Dalton Snyder in the opening round for Hoisington, which as a team is ranked No. 10 in its class. Snyder is ranked No. 3.
Zach Sanders (138) faces Trae Gillespie of West Elk, Brady Moore (285) wrestles Plainville’s No. 6-ranked Bradey Chard and Hagen Hanzlick (170) drew Riley Hunsicker from Ellis.
Schmidt said his team wouldn’t be happy with anything less than fifth place.
“We set lofty goals for ourselves at the beginning of the season,” Schmidt said. “We wanted to finish in the top five at state. Of course, we always strive to be the state champions, but you also have to realize that every other team is saying the same thing. You have to set realistic goals, too. For our kids, being the state champions is a realistic goal.
“But if they aren’t in the top five, I think they will be horribly disappointed with the whole season.”
HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING
Class 3-1A state tournament
At Gross Coliseum
120 — Brandon Ball vs. Taylor Murphy, Oakley
138 — Zach Sanders vs. Trae Gillespie, West Elk
145 — Chance Demel vs. Ross Coomes, Phillipsburg
152 — Matt Manka vs. Dalton Snyder, Hoxie
170 — Hagen Hanzlick vs. Riley Hunsicker, Ellis
182 — Eric Hellerud vs. Easton Sommer, Mission Valley
195 — Cayton Janousek vs. Connor Winters, Stockton
220 — Cody Batt vs. Riley Callahan, Silver Lake
285 — Brady Moore vs. Bradey Chard, Plainville