Free State, LHS place in top 10 at wrestling regional, state swimming
Topeka – Two Free State senior wrestlers walked away from the Class 6A State West Regional Tournament with first-place wins, carrying the Firebirds for a sixth-place tie with the host school Saturday at Washburn Rural. Lawrence High came in eighth out of 18 schools.
Seven schools at the regional tournament, including Free State, are among the top 10 ranked programs in Class 6A.
Free State senior Matthew Marcum won all four of his matches, defeating Garden City’s Brayden Hill in the first-place championship. Fellow senior Eric Streeter (144 pounds) won the first-place championship over Derby’s Troy Allen, finishing the regional undefeated.
Free State senior Nolan Bradley captured the third-place championship, defeating Manhattan’s Cameron Coonrod.
Free State coach Randy Steeter will send nine total wrestlers to state next weekend, and he knows the road doesn’t get any easier from here.
“It’s a tough region,” he said. “We finished fairly strong, there were a couple of grinders today where we could’ve wrestled better than we did, but we’ll make some adjustments and see what we can do next weekend.”
Junior Andrew Honas (126 pounds) opened the regional with consecutive victories for LHS before falling to Manhattan’s Logan Lagerman in the semifinal. Honas went on to capture the third-place championship over Free State sophomore Grayson Hagen.
The third-place battle between Honas and Hagen, longtime teammates during junior high, was the pair’s fourth meeting of the season.
LHS seniors Jack Elsten (132 pounds) and Trevon Swearinger (138) placed fourth, both falling in their semifinal and third-place championship matches.
Freshman Lou Elsten (106 pounds) placed fourth in his regional debut for LHS, falling to Derby’s Jayden Grijalva in the quarterfinal but turned around with three consecutive victories before coming up short to Grijalva, again, in the third-place championship.
LHS coach Patrick Naughton, who sent five total wrestlers to state, said he felt both LHS and Free State were primed and ready for strong performances entering the weekend.
“You build your schedule, not only for seeding and competition, but you also build it for experiences based on the state schedule,” Naughton said. “By this point, they know what to expect. They know when the lays or breaks are going to happen.”
Free State and LHS are sending 14 total wrestlers to state on Feb. 24-25 at Park City-Hartman Arena in Wichita.
Free State, LHS swim and dive teams place in top 10 at state
The Free State and Lawrence High swim teams placed in the top 10 at the boys’ Class 6A State Championships on Saturday at the Shawnee Mission Aquatic Center in Lenexa. Among 25 total schools, LHS placed eighth with 111 team points and Free State came in next at ninth with 98 team points.
The LHS 400-yard freestyle team – seniors Maximilian Whittaker, Maxwell Cowardin, Christopher Oral and Giuliano Lule-Paredes – captured fifth place, improving from their performance during preliminaries. Individually, Whittaker placed fifth in the 100-yard freestyle.
Retiring LHS coach Kent McDonald, who was joined at the final rounds by his wife, Free State coach Annette McDonald, said his team understood the importance of this year’s state meet.
“This group really put out,” McDonald said. “I don’t know whether it’s physical, or psychological, but they were really excited and will always compete against their cross-town rival.”
Free State highlighted the 1-meter dive, with senior Elliot Ahlvers taking home the silver, junior Isaiah Wilkins finishing fourth and senior Michael Leonard finishing eighth. Individually, Free State junior Dawson Bonnell placed sixth in the 100-yard butterfly.