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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Journal Staff

Jayhawk wrestlers bring home three medals from state tourney

Jayhawk sophomore Denton White works to pin Axton Vice from Leon-Bluestem in the semifinal in the consolation bracket. White won the match on a 6-3 decision, going on to take third place on a major decision in his final round. (Submitted photo)

SALINA – Three Jayhawk-Linn High School wrestlers received medals at the three-day Class 3-1A State Boys Wrestling tournament in Salina that ended on Saturday.

Sophomore Denton White (40 wins and five losses) took third place in the 120-pound class, and senior Dre Flores (42-10) placed fourth in the 157-pound division.

Freshman Landon Higgins (34-8) was injured in his third-round match in the 106 class and was forced to forfeit his last two rounds but still earned a sixth-place medal.

The Jayhawk team made 42 points, placing 14th out of 70 schools in the tournament. That was a record for a team that had a previous best team performance of 15th at the state tourney. A week earlier the team won its regional and sent seven wrestlers to the state tourney, a first on both counts for the team.

On Thursday, regional runner-up champion White won his first round with a pin, but came out on the short end of a 4-2 decision in the second round. In the consolation bracket he was unstoppable though, pinning his third opponent and winning his fourth and fifth matches on decisions to win the third-place medal.

“Denton had one of the toughest weights in the tournament,” said Jayhawk coach Brett Kramer. “Denton had to open up his state tournament with a kid that was a returning state placer.

“After winning that match Denton faced the No.1-ranked wrestler in all classes and lost a hard-fought 4-2 match that could have gone either way. Denton then pulled off two nail biters against kids that were ranked higher than him going into the state tournament.

“Overall I was so proud of Denton's effort even though he didn't win a state title he definitely gave a state champion effort! When we first saw his draw for state it definitely was a tough draw but we talked about how he was the tough draw and that the others guys should be going, ‘Man I have a tough match; I have that Denton White from Jayhawk.’ 

White is now a two-time state placer and joins his brothers Corbin and Brody White and teammate Dre Flores as the programs only multiple state placers, Kramer said. 

Senior Dre Flores, left, takes his place on the medal stand. A single point in a sudden victory loss in the final round kept the Jayhawk from earning third place. (Submitted photo)

Regional champion Flores had a similar path, winning his first round with a pin but losing his second in a 10-6 decision. In the consolation bracket he won three in a row, including a pin in his third round and winning the next two by decisions. The senior lost the match for third place on a decision and received a medal for fourth.

“Dre has meant so much to our program over the last four years,” Kramer said. “He has been the heart and soul of this team. Dre also had a state champion effort even though he did not win a state title.

“Dre also had one of the toughest weights at state and he gave a great effort to take fourth. Dre lost a tough match in overtime in his third place match, and that kid had beaten the state champion two times this year.

“That just shows you how tough the bracket was and how close Dre was to winning that state title as well. Dre is such a fierce and tough competitor; we will greatly miss him next year.

“Dre becomes just the fourth person in our school history to place at state more than once,” the coach said. “Dre took sixth as a sophomore, was injured his junior year and not able to wrestle at state, then he took fourth this year.” 

Wearing a leg brace, freshman Landon HIggins, left, earned a sixth-place medal despite being injured in the third round. (Submitted photo)

Higgins, who was regional champion in his weight class won his first two rounds on decisions but was injured about a minute and a half into his third round and was forced to forfeit the final two rounds.

Kramer said that had he not been injured in that third match, he could have won the division.

“Landon had a great season as he became only the second freshman in our program history to place at state as a freshman (Denton White is the other),” Kramer said. “Landon was having a great state tournament and was actually winning his match to make the state finals but ended up getting injured and unable to continue in the tournament. I know before he finishes his HS career he will make it to the top of the podium.” 

Four other wrestlers were out of contention after the second round, but their coach had nothing but praise for his wrestlers.

Senior Bowen Wade (30-16) lost his first round in the 138 class on a decision and was pinned in the subsequent round. Wade was runner-up champion at regionals.

“I know (Bowen) didn't have the state tournament he wanted, but he had a great career finishing as a three-time state qualifier,” Kramer said. “I still truly believe if we wrestled the tournament that Bowen would medal, but unfortunately a couple of mistakes cost him. But that doesn't take away how much he has helped this program and he leaves it with having a great career and 96 varsity wins.“

Senior Ethan Ranes (19-22) was pinned in both his first and second match in the 285 class. Ranes agreed to move up from 215 to 285 at regionals, a substantial class change, but placed third at the regional tournament. Because he qualified at that heavier class, he was required to compete at that class at state.

“I know Ethan would have liked to win some matches at state but him making it was a great accomplishment,” Kramer said. “Ethan has improved so much over the years and made himself into a state qualifier. Ethan will be missed next year as he was the guy that kept practice loose and would get everyone to laugh. But when it was time to work Ethan would go to work.”

Junior Cooper Johnson (10-10) lost his first match on a decision in the 150 class and was subsequently pinned in the second round. He was runner-up champion at the regionals, and he had moved up from the 144-pound class to 150 for the regionals

Freshman Brady Felt (19-14) took falls in both first and second rounds in the 144-pound group. He placed fourth at regionals.

“Overall, I was really pleased with our effort,” Kramer said. “I thought everyone wrestled tough and battled and represented our school really well. I will greatly miss our four seniors, Ethan Ranes, Dre Flores, Bowen Wade and Josh Doan.”

Doan, who only came out for wrestling his senior year, was a great asset to the team this year, the coach said. 

“Even though he didn't make it to state, he pushed Ethan everyday and made Ethan better,” Kramer explained. He definitely helped Ethan make it to state.

“For Dre, Ethan and Bowen, they have given so much to our program over the last four years. They have led by example and shown our younger kids how to work hard and how to be great teammates. 

He said the three were always down by the mat when their teammates were wrestling, cheering them on.

“I hate to see them go, but they have definitely made their mark on the program and left it in great shape,” Kramer added.

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