Wrestling places 6th at Sub-State

Kris Long, Sports Editor

Manhattan High Varsity wrestling placed sixth overall and qualified five for the state tournament at the western division Sub-State tournament this weekend, putting them in the running for another top 10 state finish. 

Placing second was junior Easton Taylor; in third senior heavyweight Damian Ilalio, junior #113 Janzten Borge and junior #145 Blaisen Bammes; and in fourth #120 freshman Jameal Agnew. Juniors #152 Devin Siebert and #138 Tucker Brunner, as well as freshman #220 Clayton Frehn all ended their seasons on Saturday. 

“We did pretty good,” Taylor said. “We qualified five to state which isn’t too bad with this year being all different… we only lost three [wrestlers] that tournament and It was pretty hard, a lot of upsets. So I’m pretty proud of what we all did.”

MHS had no Sub-State champions, despite wrestling competitively. Their only finalist, Taylor, lost his final round to Damian Mendez from Dodge City, the first ranked #132 wrestler in 6A, by major decision 5-2. Taylor has only lost three matches this year and two of them have been to Mendez.

“This was our second time wrestling this year, and it was the same outcome as last time,” Taylor said. “I lost, yeah, but hopefully we can get him back next week… Hopefully where I’ll see him [at state] is in the finals and I can get my revenge then.”

The tournament had most of the best teams in the state competing, with eight of them in the top 10 in Kansas. Because of COVID-19, only four wrestlers from each weight class qualified in order to make the state tournament smaller and allow for social distancing, making the competition even more fierce. 

“It was just a very brutal tournament,” head coach Robert Gonzales said. “I mean it was unbelievable. I could go through each bracket, and could probably count, six, probably seven athletes that have outstanding win loss records, are returning state placers, seniors, and they did not get out of the tournament to go to state… And that’s what happens when you have a one day tournament, double elimination, and you have eight ranked schools.”

The western division is historically more difficult than the east, so having qualified five wrestlers Manhattan hopes to get some wins against eastern teams early in Saturday’s tournament. 

“We had eight schools in our Sub-State tournament, and the same eight schools were at our regional, and we’ve just been beating each other up every week,” Gonzales said. “We’re finally glad to get the state so we can see the Shawnee Missions, the Blue Valleys, the Lawrences, the Olathe Norths, so we can see the eastern Kansas schools.”

As always, the team’s goal is to bring home a state trophy next weekend, but the competition will be steep.

“If all five of our kids get the finals. That’s over 100 team points. We’re in the running for a trophy,” Gonzales said. “But that’s a lot of expectations on our kids. So we’re just going to have to wrestle one match at a time… we’re in good shape, we’re not out there running for a state trophy and our goal is getting a trophy.”