In the final round before the state wrestling championships, two wrestlers from Erie qualified for state at this weekend’s sub-state tournaments.
Drayton Kennedy at 106 pounds and Quinten Heady at 132 pounds both placed in the top four of the KSHSAA Boys 3-2-1A Sub-State No. 2 Tournament in Marion to earn bids to the state tournament.
Erie head coach Will Weber espoused his pride for all of his wrestlers.
"It is heartbreaking this time of year when you know that a kid's dream may be broken,” Weber said. “We missed practice days due to the weather but they still showed up this weekend and wrestled hard. I am very proud of these kids."
In the 106-pound division at the 3-2-1A Sub-State, Kennedy won his quarterfinal match over Camron Yuill of Doniphan West via fall. Kennedy then pinned Andrew Peters of Whitewater-Remington in the semifinals before being pinned by Corbin White of Jayhawk-Linn in the championship match.
“He’s wrestling better and better every time,” Weber said of Kennedy. “Corbin is ranked No. 1 in the state and has been all season. We’ve seen him in districts, regionals and now sub-state. We’re getting closer every time he wrestles him. We’re seeing things we can work on in the practice room.”
In the 132-pound bracket, Heady lost his first match as he was pinned by Colby Hurla of Rossville.
Heady won his next three matches to earn third place, pinning Micah Cauthers of Chase County, winning by decision over Conner Hayes of Riverside then exacting revenge over Hurla with a major decision in the third place match.
“He’s improving every time he steps on the mat,” Weber said. “That first match, something was off. It was in the warmups. But he came back after that first loss and it was a rude awakening. He got back in his rhythm and outwrestled everybody. He wanted to redeem himself.”
Cayce Welch of Erie lost his only two bouts at sub-state in the 170-pound bracket, getting pinned by Daigan Kruger of Silver Lake and Josh Hermann of Sabetha.
Cherryvale had two wrestlers compete at the 3-2-1A sub-state. Dalton Morrill took fifth place at 113 pounds, earning two wins over Jesse Thacher of Oskaloosa but dropping bouts to Gable Fredrickson of Marysville and John Langill of Nemaha Central.
Michael Coats of Cherryvale lost his only two matches, getting pinned by Mason Scholz of Atchison County Community and Kane Shepard of Uniontown.
At the KSHSAA 4A Boys Sub-State No. 2 Tournament in Chanute, Labette County had two wrestlers compete.
Kyler Irwin (106 pounds) and Mitchell House (195) both lost a pair of matches.
In Garnett, Labette County, Erie and Cherryvale all had wrestlers compete in the KSHSAA Girls Division II Sub-State No. 2 Tournament.
Olivia Lee (143) and Hailey Benson (235) of Labette County both lost both their matches. Benson had been coming off a regional championship the week prior.
Cherryvale’s Olivia Saucedo dropped both her matches in the 138-pound division.
Erie’s Breanna Ross, who made state in a larger field a year ago, narrowly missed out on a return trip as she placed fifth in the 115-pound bracket.
Ross won her first match over Haley Somchay of Santa Fe Trail by decision before being pinned by Independence’s Alexis Allen in the semifinals.
In a match that determined who went to state, Ross fell to Andrea Cuin of Chanute. Ross finished off her season with a win over Somchay in the fifth place match.
The two Erie boys wrestlers, Kennedy and Heady, will compete at the KSHSAA Boys 3-2-1A State Championships at Fort Hays State on Saturday.
In a year where wrestling has been hit hard due to COVID-19 and the state field cut in half, Weber feels the sport has only been strengthened by the adversity felt across the state.
“It made the sport a little stronger,” Weber said. “We had to do more than just watch our weight. We had to make sure we stayed safe from the virus. We can do everything we can in the wrestling room.”