Five area high schools Â Baldwin, Santa Fe Trail, DeSoto, Eudora and Ottawa Â will compete today and Saturday the Class 4A wrestling regional at Burlington.
"It's tougher than last year," SFT coach Regan Erickson said of the 15-team regional field. It's as tough as it's ever been."
The top four placers in 14 weight classes will advance to the state tournament next week in Wichita.
Erickson, whose team won the Kaw Valley League title last week, hopes to advance as eight wrestlers to state.
SFT's Cody Betsworth (20-0 at 125 pounds), Travis McBurney (23-1 at 140) and Chad Schmale (18-4 at 130) are seeded No. 1 in their respective weight classes for regional.
SFT freshman Travis Eden, a KVL champion at 152 pounds, is 23-6 and a No. 2 seed. Eden is coming off a 2-1 overtime victory over Basehor-Linwood's Brandon Buck, who had been ranked No. 2 in 4A.
Baldwin coach Kit Harris said the strength of the regional should benefit the wrestlers who advance.
"The good thing about a tough regional is that the qualifiers that do get through have a tendency to get a better spot in the bracket at state," Harris said. "It increases their chances of doing well there."
No. 1 regional seeds for Baldwin are junior Dan Hamilton (26-9 with 19 falls at 215 pounds) and senior Witt Hinton (32-5 with 15 falls at 275).
No. 2 seeds for Baldwin are Kyle Flory (36-4 with 18 falls at 171 pounds) and Wayne Sage (17-13 with eight falls at 119). Flory has set the school record for victories in a season.
"We have three wrestlers who are sitting very good in their brackets, and about two to three others who have to win a big match to get in," said Harris, who guided the Bulldogs to a 15-2 dual record. "I also have about three or four more who are very good wrestlers, but have some work to do because their bracket is very deep. But I know the kids will compete hard and that is all I ever ask of them."
At Basehor-Linwood, Perry-Lecompton and Tonganoxie will compete in a 15-team regional. Perry's Aaron Rinehart (189 pounds) and Tonganoxie's James Hartshorn (215) won KVL titles.
Wellsville will play host to a 19-team Class 3-2-1A regional. Wellsville's Cody Gardner (103) and Kyle Patton (112) are ranked No. 1 in their respective weight class for the state
The top four placers advance to the state meet in Hays.