Preps Notebook: Free State wrestlers take down Lawrence on Firebirds’ senior night

photo by: Contributed photo

Free State senior Nolan Bradley (top) works a move against Lawrence High's Logan Sheldon during the city showdown wrestling dual on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023 at FSHS.

Free State Wrestling hosted Lawrence High on its Senior Night on Wednesday night.

Prior to Wednesday’s action, nine seniors were acknowledged in front of one of the largest crowds to watch a wrestling meet at FSHS in years. Nolan Bradley (113), Eric Streeter (144), Matthew Marcum (215), Gavin Blanchard (285), Jett Barton (157), Braxton Blanck (285), Wyatt Sutton (120), Talyn Nichols (175), and Dylan Farrell (150) were all in attendance with their parents at center mat.

In addition, the Free State wrestling program memorialized late Firebird wrestling alum Jesse Hardy, from the Class of 2006, who died in November. Many of Hardy’s family members and friends were in attendance for the dedication.

The varsity dual between the Firebirds and cross-town rival Chesty Lions started at 144 pounds, when senior captain Eric Streeter took care of Tahj Edwards of LHS, recording a first-period fall to get the Firebirds out to an early 6-0 start. The Lions responded with a major decision at 150 pounds, with Aiden Carmack controlling his match with Firebirds sophomore Cole Wright (9-0). At 157 pounds, Free State’s Gabe Swoyer faced off with Lawrence High’s Harrison Kirkwood. Kirkwood edged Swoyer 9-8 in an exciting back-and-forth dual, bringing the team score to 7-6 in favor of Lawrence High.

But that was it for the Lions for awhile, as the Firebirds rattled off five straight wins to run the score to 33-7 in favor of Free State. Freshman newcomer Zane Shaw recorded an overtime fall over Brandt Wolleson at 165 pounds; senior Talyn Nichols edged Reece Meyer 4-1 at 175 pounds; sophomore Blaine Larkin pinned Anthony Phommaseng at 190 pounds; senior captain Matthew Marcum took down Tucker Corbin by first-period fall; and senior Gavin Blanchard recorded an exciting win by pin in the second period of his match with Elijah Gray at 285 pounds.

The Lions responded with a quick pin by freshman Lou Elsten over FSHS’s Quinton Hice. At 113 pounds, Free State senior captain Nolan Bradley took care of business with a convincing first-period fall over Logan Sheldon, followed by another senior Firebird fall by Wyatt Sutton over Lawrence McCawley at 120 pounds, moving the score to 45-13 FSHS with three bouts remaining.

The 126-pound match was a rematch of the 2022 state championship third-place matchup between Grayson Hagen of Free State and Andrew Honas of Lawrence. Hagen prevailed last February in a tight match, but Honas avenged that loss on Wednesday with a 4-1 decision over the Free State sophomore.

At 132 pounds, Free State newcomer and first-year wrestler Preston White took on Chesty Lion Remy Frentrop and came away with a come-from-behind win by fall in the second period.

To end the evening, Lawrence grappler Trevon Swearinger edged Firebird D’onte Goodman by a score of 2-1, leaving the final score of the dual 51-19 in favor of the home team.

Free State’s next competition will be the Sunflower League meet at Olathe South on Feb. 4. LHS will travel to Chanute High this weekend before competing at the league tournament.

Swimmers shine in Topeka; LHS wins home quadrangular

The Free State and Lawrence High swim teams finished in the top two spots at the Topeka High Invite on Tuesday. The Firebirds took first, and the Lions were second.

Free State won the 200-yard medley relay, with first-place individual finishes by junior Dawson Bonnell (200-yard IM), senior Elliot Ahlvers (1-meter diving) and sophomore Sina Khosh (500-yard freestyle). Junior Isaiah Wilkins (second) and senior Michael Leonard (third) rounded out the top three places in the 1-meter dive for the Firebirds.

LHS finished first in the 400-yard freestyle relay and second in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Swimmers from LHS who earned first-place finishes as individuals included seniors Maxwell Cowardin (200-yard freestyle) and Maximilian Whittaker (100-yard freestyle, 50-yard freestyle). LHS senior Giuliano Lule-Paredes placed second in the 100-yard backstroke.

Last week, Lawrence High placed first at its home quadrangular on Jan. 19, beating challengers from Olathe North, Topeka High and Topeka West.

A first-place finish by the 200-yard medley relay team — Lule-Paredes, freshman Hugo Cowardin, junior Quinn Pleskac and Whittaker — kicked off the Lions’ successful day. Individual gold medalists included senior Ryan Christian (200-yard freestyle), Pleskac (200-yard medley), Whittaker (50-yard freestyle), Lule-Paredes (100-yard butterfly, 100-yard backstroke), senior Christopher Oral (100-yard freestyle) and Maxwell Cowardin (500-yard freestyle).

Up next, Free State and LHS will head to Shawnee Mission East on Saturday.

LHS girls advance to Winter Classic semifinal

The Lawrence High girls basketball team defeated Topeka West 41-33 on Wednesday in the opening round of the Winter Firebirds Classic at Free State.

Senior Serenity Keo led LHS (9-1) with 16 total points, including a 3-pointer. Senior Amaya Marshall and sophomore Brynnae Johnson each scored eight points. Junior Destiny Savannah contributed two 3s for six total points, and junior Azura Clark chipped in two points.

LHS will meet Blue Valley in the semifinal at 6 p.m. Friday.

Free State, meanwhile, dropped its first-round game at its home tourney on Thursday night, falling to Eisenhower, 53-14. The Firebirds will play Wichita Northwest at 4:30 p.m. Friday in the consolation bracket.

Free State, LHS boys earn spots in top 25

The Free State and Lawrence High boys basketball teams are in 810 Varsity’s weekly top 25 rankings. The Firebirds (7-3) are No. 14, and the Lions (8-3) are just three spots down at No. 17.

Free State, fresh off a 63-38 win against Shawnee Mission North, hosts Olathe Northwest on Jan. 31. LHS, which lost against Highland Park 58-47 last weekend, travels to Olathe South on Friday.


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