Free State wrestling opens season with 2 wins under new coach Steve Burns

Free State wrestling coach Steve Burns talks to his team before their meet. The Firebirds defeated Holton and Olathe East in a double dual Thursday, Dec. 5.

Right after Free State junior Caleb Streeter excitedly won his first match over Holton’s Conner Gilliland, senior Lou Fincher congratulated him by handing off a large silver chain.

“You get to wear it if you get a pin,” Free State coach Steve Burns said. “It’s an honor to wear it around your neck, and then you’ve got to hand it off to the next person once they pin. Hopefully it cycles through everybody on the team.”

Free State wrestling opened its season with a 44-34 win over Holton and a 42-31 win over Olathe East in a double dual Thursday night.

“We’ve got a bunch of young guys, so I was anxious to get them on the mat and see what kind of weapons we had in our back pocket,” Burns said. “It’s always a little bit of butterflies in your stomach for that first dual, so I’m happy to get the two wins under our belt to start the season.”

That chain reflects Free State’s strong start to the season. But it’s also one of the new wrinkles for Free State wrestling implemented by first-year coach Steve Burns.

“I don’t know about this thing,” Fincher said, with a laugh. “I was skeptical about wearing it at first, but I just put it on.”

Burns, who’s coached wrestling for 14 seasons — this is his 10th as a head coach — in Colorado and New Mexico before coming to Free State, is pretty confident stepping into a new program.

“It’s just learning new groups, new faces, new parents,” Burns said. “Give me a couple years and we’re going to be a pretty good force in Class 6A wrestling in Kansas.”

One of his trademarks already is his emphatic coaching on the sidelines.

“I like the energy,” Fincher said. “It kind of gets people excited.”

For Burns, it’s all about positive reinforcement, especially with a younger team. He said negativity is “the worst thing you can do” when discussing a match with a wrestler.

“I’m aggressive off the side of the mat, but my kids know it’s not in a negative sense,” Burns said. “But I also feel as a coach, sitting down and being quiet isn’t going to do them any good. If I can correct actions on the mat, that’s what I’m there for.”

With Fincher as the lone senior, Burns said he’s happy to build confidence in his team filled with underclassmen — four freshmen and two sophomores on varsity — and surprise some people this season.

“We’ve got a lot of building to go, but you can see tonight we’ve got a lot to look forward to,” Burns said. “I’m pretty happy about that.”

Free State Results

Free State (FS) 44, Holton (HOL) 34. 106: Nolan Bradley (FS) over Tucker Gilliland (HOL) (TF 16-1 0:00). 113: Jake Barnes (HOL) over Eric Streeter (FS) (Fall 0:00). 120: Ezra Birdashaw (FS) over Lucas Adcock (HOL) (Fall 5:57). 136: Cayden Jackson (HOL) over Trey Shanks (FS) (Fall 5:57). 132: Lou Fincher (FS) over Slater Skaggs (HOL) (Fall 1:03). 138: Caleb Streeter (FS) over Conner Gilliland (HOL) (Fall 1:05). 145: Jayden Fletcher (HOL) over Zach Shepley (FS) (Fall 4:47). 152: Grayson Booth (HOL) over Reece Gray (FS) (MD 10-1). 160: Matthew Marcum (FS) over Jakari Washington (HOL) (Fall 0:00). 170: Ben Logren (FS) over Conner Collins (HOL). 195: Cole Rorick (FS) over (HOL) (For.). 220: Jordan Huntington (HOL) over Gavin Blanchard (FS) (Fall 2:26). 285: Dustin Chermok (HOL) over Ethan Oden (FS) (Fall 1:10).

Free State (FS) 42, Olathe East (OE) 31. 106: Nolan Bradley (FS) over (OE) (For.) 113: Eric Streeter (FS) over (OE) (For.) 120: Ezra Birdashaw (FS) over Marcelo Bastos (OE) (Fall 3:35). 126: Jacob Bradley (OE) over Trey Shanks (FS) (Dec 6-3). 132: Lou Fincher (FS) over Jacob Bragg (OE) (Fall 0:36) 138: Caleb Streeter (FS) over Sam Herzog (OE) (Fall 1:18). 145: Nick Carlson (OE) over Zach Shipley (FS) (Fall 3:47). 152: Antonio Vasquez (OE) over Reece Gray (FS) (Dec 5-4). 160: Matthew Marcum (FS) over John Horton (OE) (Fall 1:23). 170: Jaxon Avena (OE) over Ben Logren (FS) (MD 10-1). 182: Austin Burenheide (FS) over Ty Herl (OE) (Fall 1:45). 195: Malique Washington (OE) over Cole Rorick (FS) (Dec 7-0). 220: Turner Lennard (OE) over Gavin Blanchard (FS) (Fall 3:56). 285: Taran Thomas (OE) over Ethan Oden (FS) (Fall 1:38).

LHS boys wrestling opens season against Gardner Edgerton

Lawrence High also opened up its wrestling season, dropping a dual against Gardner Edgerton 51-25 Wednesday night.

The Lions were led by Jack Elsten (106 pounds), Hunter Girard (113 pounds) and Kevin Honas (120 pounds) securing early wins over the Blazers. However, Gardner Edgerton quickly struck back, winning four of the next six matches. Eventually, the Blazers gained enough momentum in late matches to secure the victory.

LHS will next compete in a dual at Shawnee Mission West on Friday, before heading to the Leavenworth tournament Saturday.

LHS Results

Gardner Edgerton (GAED) 51.0 Lawrence (LAWR) 25.0 106: Jack Elsten (LAWR) over (GAED) (For.) 113: Hunter Girard (LAWR) over Eric Massaro (GAED) (Fall 0:00) 120: Kevin Honas (LAWR) over Collin Smith (GAED) (MD 14-1) 126: Alonzo Borjas (GAED) over Zach Razak (LAWR) (Fall 0:00) 132: Logan Farrell (LAWR) over Jason Leyritana (GAED) (MD 14-4) 138: Zaine Mayfield (GAED) over Andre Phommaseng (LAWR) (Fall 0:00) 145: Andrew Corbin (GAED) over William Maas (LAWR) (Fall 0:00) 152: Trey Medina (LAWR) over Jacob Foster (GAED) (TF 16-1 0:00) 160: AJ Rodriguez (GAED) over will Haynes (LAWR) (Fall 0:00) 170: Aydin Lowery (GAED) over (LAWR) (For.) 182: Caden Rodriguez (GAED) over (LAWR) (For.) 195: Gus Davis (GAED) over Dylan Gillespie (LAWR) (Fall 0:00) 220: Nick Lopeman (GAED) over Gentry Dennison (LAWR) (Dec 2-1) 285: Gerald Picado (GAED) over (LAWR) (For.)

LHS girls wrestling opens season at Spring Hill Mixer

The Lawrence High girls wrestling team also started its season, with the Lions competing in the Spring Hill Mixer on Thursday night.

The Lions had two wrestlers in the event in Juleah Williams (170 pounds) Sierra Alarcon (191 pounds). Williams won all three of her matches, over Laura Kinsch (Tonganoxie), Anisah Ultreras (Ottawa) and Esrah Stowers (Spring Hill). Alarcon went 2-1, with wins over Esmerelda Renteria (Blue Valley) and Kaira Cardona De-La-O (Topeka High).

LHS girls results

Varisty Girls 170C: Juleah Williams (Lawrence) – 1st Round 1 – Juleah Williams (Lawrence) over Laura Kinsch (Tonganoxie High) (Inj. [time]) Round 2 – Juleah Williams (Lawrence) over Anisah Ultreras (Ottawa) (Fall 0:29) Round 3 – Juleah Williams (Lawrence) over Esrah Stowers (Spring Hill) (Fall 0:23)

Varisty Girls 191C: Sierra Alarcon (Lawrence) – 2nd Round 1 – Sierra Alarcon (Lawrence) over Esmerelda Renteria (Overland Park-Blue Valley) (Fall 1:29) Round 2 – Jaylee Roark (Fort Scott) over Sierra Alarcon (Lawrence) (Fall 0:16) Round 3 – Sierra Alarcon (Lawrence) over Kaira Cardona De-La-O (Topeka) (Fall 0:51)


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