Throughout the season, Lawrence High’s wrestling team has sat atop the Class 6A rankings. This weekend, that status will be put to a serious test.
Even though the Lions’ season has rolled along with few setbacks, today and Saturday at the Newton Tournament of Champions, Lions coach Pat Naughton said, LHS will find out exactly how it stacks up against some of the top programs in the state and beyond.
“This weekend’s gonna be a tell-tale sign,” the coach said.
With eight of the top 10 teams in 6A (including each of the top seven) competing at Newton, Naughton’s words ring true. While Lawrence boasts seven ranked wrestlers on its roster — No. 1 Reece Wright-Conklin (182 pounds), No. 2 Hunter Haralson (126), No. 2 Tristan Star (106), No. 3 Andrew Denning (152), No. 3 Nick Pursel (170), No. 3 Brad Wilson (220) and No. 4 Caden Lynch (132) — they likely will be going up against quality opponents from No. 2 Manhattan, No. 3 Gardner-Edgerton, No. 4 Wichita Heights, No. 5 Garden City, No. 6 Derby, No. 7 Wichita Northwest and No. 9 Dodge City at the 24-team tournament, which also features Tulsa Union (Okla.), ranked among the top 20 teams in the nation.
As an example of how tough the field will be at Newton, Naughton pointed to the 126-pound weight class, where each of the top six wrestlers in 6A, as well as four from 5A and a couple from 4A, will be competing.
“It’s a great barometer for where you’re at,” Naughton said, adding he won’t be surprised to see good wrestlers from various schools finish with a losing record at Newton
The Lions are healthy and feeling good entering the tournament, coming off a second-place finish at Maize this past weekend and a dual win Wednesday at Olathe Northwest.
“Right now I think we’re ready to go,” Naughton said.
What has stood out about Lawrence’s wrestlers this season, the coach said, has been their ability to stay level-headed. Naughton said the Lions take each match as a challenge, whether their opponent is ranked or unranked.
“They’re not worried about this guy is (ranked) here or this guy’s here,” the coach said. “You have to wrestle everybody. Whoever comes to us on the mat, that’s who we’ve got.”
Other teams competing at Newton this weekend are: Andover Central (No. 4, 5A), Arkansas City (No. 2, 5A), Bishop Carroll, Colby (No. 7, 4A), Emporia (No. 9, 5A), Hutchinson, Leavenworth, Liberal, Maize, Maize South, McPherson (No. 4, 4A), Mill Valley, Newton (No. 1, 5A), Norton and Salina South.
FSHS headed to Basehor
Free State’s wrestling team has a two-day tournament on its plate as well. The Firebirds will compete at Basehor-Linwood’s Bobcat Classic today and Saturday.
FSHS is led by 182-pound junior Spencer Wilson, who carries a 10-0 record and a No. 2 ranking into the Basehor tournament.