A 12th-place finish at state and the return of only three state qualifiers wasn’t a thought in the mind of Goddard wrestling coach Brett Means heading into this season.
Though the team struggled last year, often searching for wrestlers to fill holes due to injuries, Means knew what was to come — a freshman class that had the potential to find success on the high school level.
“Last year didn’t really worry me because I knew what was coming up with these freshmen,” Means said. “They all came from great kids clubs, and their parents traveled all over to get them experience, and they’re good, they’re all really good.”
He starts seven freshmen in the varsity lineup, and the team is ranked second in 5A. Eight Goddard wrestlers are in the top six of their weight classes, and half are freshmen.
“It’s all about expectations,” Means said. “These kids expect to win, I expect to win, they work hard and know what it takes to win.”
Two freshmen — Kendall and Kameron Frame — can look up to older brother Christian for guidance. He placed sixth at state last year and is only one of two returning state placers for Goddard.
Kendall is ranked third at 126, Kameron sixth at 132, and Christian fourth at 138.
“The good thing for Christian with having his two freshman brothers coming in there is, it’s helped him focus to be a leader for him,” Means said. “It gives him extra motivation.”
The freshman class has been welcomed to the team, which has two seniors.
“We have quite a few good freshmen this year, and without them, taking state would not even be possible,” junior Brett Woodruff said.
Despite the experience these freshmen have at high levels, Goddard’s regional is going to be a tough. The Lions will compete at fourth-ranked Kapaun, in a tournament that includes bracket including seventh-ranked Arkansas City, eighth-ranked West, Bishop Carroll, Andover, Liberal and Eisenhower.
“We’re going to have to stay focused,” Woodruff said. “The first match will be the most important, and hopefully things will go our way.”
Means has confidence if his team can keep the right mentality, it will continue to be successful throughout regionals and state.
“They have to all go in there as individuals and expect to win. A lot of times you put them on a big stage and they choke. They’re scared, and they shouldn’t be scared, we competed at bigger tournaments before,” Means said. “They have to wrestle to win, and not to lose. I’ve always said, ‘If you wrestle not to lose, you’re going to lose.’ ”
SATURDAY’S WRESTLING REGIONALS
Where Wichita-area teams are competing
Washburn Rural — Derby, Wichita East, Wichita Southeast.
Wichita Northwest — Campus, Hutchinson, Maize, Wichita North, Wichita Northwest, Wichita South.
Kapaun — Andover, Arkansas City, Carroll, Eisenhower, Goddard, Kapaun, Liberal, Wichita West.
Wichita Heights — Maize South, Newton, Valley Center, Wichita Heights.
Colby — Buhler, McPherson, Nickerson, Smoky Valley.
Winfield — Andale, Andover Central, Augusta, Circle, Clearwater, El Dorado, Mulvane, Pratt, Rose Hill, Trinity Academy, Wellington, Winfield.
Douglass — Bluestem, Central-Burden, Douglass, Eureka, Flinthills, Hillsboro, Marion, Remington, Sedgwick, Wichita Independent.
Hoisington — Chaparral, Cheney, Garden Plain, Halstead, Hesston, Lyons, Moundridge, Sterling.