Wrestling takes second at home quad

Kris Long, Sports Editor

Manhattan High Varsity wrestling received second at their home quad on Saturday, after coming short by three points in their dual against Shawnee Heights and winning their other two. 

“I’m decently proud of everyone,” junior Blaisen Bammes said. “In these past three weeks, going from that first dual against Great Bend to now, we’ve made huge strides individually, and from a team aspect.”

MHS won their first two duals against Paola and Smith Center, both by a margin of 54-27. Paola left two empty weights to Manhattan’s one at #220. MHS could have won without the six free points, however, getting seven pins against Paola’s three. 

Smith Center left three weights open, giving Manhattan a 18-point lead. The boys came through in their second dual again, getting six pins. 

The last match against Shawnee ended 36-39. It was Manhattan’s second loss of the season, putting them at 5-2. The Thunderbirds are always a difficult opponent, though MHS narrowly beat them last year. 

“We definitely knew the moves that they do, that they teach their kids, was going to be something that we don’t see very often,” Bammes said. “It’s a lot of funky moves that we don’t see often just because they’re one of the only teams in the state that does it. So, we practiced going over the stuff that they do and how to defend it, and I can’t complain about how we did, because we did the best job we could.”

The dual came down to the last match, freshman Jerek McCellen vs. Andrew Bonebrake at the #113 weight class while the score was 36-34 in favor of Manhattan. McCellen fought getting pinned, but lost by technical fall in the third period. 

“[Shawnee] is a good school, good wrestlers,” head coach Robert Gonzales said. “It was tough for Jerek [McCellen] to put him in that position as freshmen, to try and win the dual. But we’ll get better. We’re going to improve, I already see a lot of improvement.”

All of MHS’ ranked wrestlers — #132 junior Easton Taylor, #145 Bammes and #285 senior Damian Ilalio — went undefeated, along with juniors #138 Tucker Brunner and #152 Deven Siebert. 

“I was proud [of how I did],” Siebert said. “I won all mine by pins, I pinned the first two kids in the first period, my third kid in the second period which I was pretty proud of.”

Despite the Kansas State High School Activities Association decision to allow fans, the wrestlers weren’t allowed spectators at this dual due to a number of logistical problems. There is nowhere to store the wrestling matts at West Campus currently due to construction so it couldn’t be moved, and the East Campus facility is too small for spectators to socially distance. Many of the wrestlers are disappointed, but there are positive elements.

“Personally, I like it,” Bammes said. “Because all that pressure that you usually have when you’re wrestling with fans, there’s a thought in the back of your head that, ‘I have to perform for these people,’ so not having fans makes it easier to go out there and just wrestle your match.”