Wichita South’s Kalin Collins is eager to reach the final match at 160 pounds in the Class 6A wrestling tournament for one main reason — to improve on last year’s season.
Collins finished sixth at state last season, but after defeating Blue Valley Southwest’s AJ Totta 3-2 on Friday night, he advanced to the semifinals, already an improvement from sixth place.
“That’s always what it is, you want to do better than what you have before, so I’m really trying to push myself to be the best I can be,” Collins said. “I want to win it all. I’m going to do anything I can.”
Collins started the tournament Friday by pinning his first opponent in 30 seconds.
“Right after the whistle he goes after people. He’s very aggressive, he goes after them at the very start. That’s something that wasn’t so much at the beginning of the season, but it’s developed,” South coach Brian Westhoff said. “He’s one of those kids who has a lot of potential, he could go on and do very well.”
Collins’ quick pin didn’t make him too confident, however. He finished his quarterfinal match by holding on to prevent an escape, to allow Totta to tie the match in the final seconds.
“(Totta) was really good at defending my shot, which mainly stopped me from scoring,” Collins said. “I usually depend on my shot, so I’ll have to figure out a way to get around it.”
“I’m satisfied with a one-point win in any match, so let’s keep this going,” Westhoff added.
Collins started the season wrestling at 170 pounds, where he lost two matches, but he’s undefeated since he moved down to 160. But Collins will have to defeat Manhattan’s Austin Chauncey in the semifinal round Saturday in order to reach the afternoon’s championship match.
“You’ve got to keep thinking each guy is better than the last,” Collins said. “I’m going to have to make sure my shots are good, don’t slack off, keep my stamina up, keep outworking and do the best that I can.”
Proving his place — Derby’s Jose Santillon started his wrestling career four years ago when starting high school. Since then, he’s been telling coach Bill Ross he’s going to place at state, whether Ross believed him or not.
“Freshman year, I didn’t know what I was doing. In practice, Coach would call the drills and I wouldn’t know what was going on, I would just look around and do what everyone else is doing,” Santillon said. “That’s why when I told him I was going to place, he just sat there and looked at me and shook his head.”
Santillon looked up at the wall in Derby’s wrestling room with the names of each state placer, inspired to become one of the names on that wall. Santillon fell one match short of placing at state last year, but after defeating Blue Valley West’s Alex Craven 3-2 in the quarterfinals Friday, Santillon’s name will hang on that wall.
Santillon will face Shawnee Mission Northwest’s Laphonso McKinnis in the 170-pound semifinal round.
Lindlar’s move to 120 — Northwest senior Michael Lindlar was the state champion at 113 pounds last year, and he’s wrestled at 113 this season. So it was surprising that Lindlar is wrestling at 120 in the state tournament.
But it is not a problem. Lindlar advanced to the semifinals after defeating Heights’ Armond McCray 5-3.
“The majority of it is that Joey Alberts, our original 120-pounder was kind of 50-50 on state,” Lindlar said. “(The coaches) thought if they moved him up then he’d have a better chance. They asked me if I wanted to move up and I said ‘yes.’ ”
The transition hasn’t been much different for Lindlar.
“It hasn’t proven to be difficult yet, but they’re a little heavier, so that’s the issue,” Lindlar said. “I’m just wrestling the same.”
Maize freshmen pull through — Maize qualified three wrestlers for the 6A tournament, including two freshmen. But freshman status doesn’t put the two at much disadvantage, which was proven as both advanced through the quarterfinal rounds.
Landon Wood at 106 and Brett Moon at 126 will both compete in the semifinal rounds Saturday.
“Those kids have been wrestling their whole lives, so they’ve been to big tournaments before,” Maize coach Mike Schauer said. “Brett Moon’s last match was against a senior, he’s a little bit wiser, a little bit older, maybe a little stronger. It does make a difference.”
Schauer said that the pressure of a state tournament doesn’t bother these young wrestlers. Wood will face Garden City’s Michael Prieto, while Moon faces Shawnee Mission East’s Grant Hollingsworth.