Carrying the flag for the City League in 5A are Kapaun Mount Carmel's Jonathan Truman and Dylan Matheny, and Bishop Carroll's Devon Keith, who all advanced to today's finals.
Keith, a 171-pounder, hadn't won a tournament until last week's regional, and says not having to face the 6A-heavy City League has brought out the best in him.
"A lot of it's that this is 5A and I haven't had to deal with a lot of the heavier competition," Keith said. "It's still really tough, but I've been able to succeed because there are more guys at my level."
Truman, at 189 pounds, was Kapaun's first entry into the finals after Joe O'Connor lost in the 160-pound semis. Truman was dominating his match against Topeka Seaman's Steven Cooksley before a late charge got Cooksley within a point. But Truman maintained his 3-2 advantage.
"Conditioning plays a huge part in the third period," Truman said. "I had some good shots early on. I knew he was going to try some stuff at the end. I tried to play it a little safe there at the end. I didn't want to get taken down."
Matheny is into the 215-pound final after having a near-perfect day. He earned pinfalls in his first two matches before notching a 7-0 decision over St. Thomas Aquinas' Eric Mason in the semis. Matheny and Truman lost in last year's semifinals.
"This match, I knew coming in it was going to be tough," Matheny said. "It's a great way to build up and get ready for tomorrow's match."
The CL's only other semifinal participant was Carroll's Dylan Penka, who lost 2-0 in overtime to Salina South's Jason Seibel.
OT, OT, OT, OT
The 5A match of the night was won by Winfield 140-pounder Vance Oliver, who needed seven periods (four overtimes) to beat Gardner-Edgerton's Micah Flora-Swick in the semifinals. Oliver and Winfield's coaches thought they had a win when Oliver scored a reverse at the end of the third, but officials ruled it came after the clock hit zero.
Oliver, a second-place finisher in 2009, won with a reverse with one second to go in the fourth overtime. He was understandably winded after the match.
"You always have (the possibility of such a long match) in your head," Oliver said. "It makes you push harder so when it does happen you need to be ready for it."
Winfield nearly maximized its points for the relatively small contingent of wrestlers. Three of the Vikings' five competitors reached the semifinals, and Oliver and heavyweight Kalen Potts are wrestling for titles.
"We're doing pretty good as a team, I think, with five guys," Potts said. "I'm pretty excited for tomorrow to see what it brings."
The lone Pup
McPherson hasn't had the same efficiency as Winfield, as the Bullpups are sending one of its nine qualifiers to the finals. Tyler Davis, a senior with a 31-1 record and more than 100 career wins, is the lone McPherson wrestler who advanced past the quarterfinals.
"I expected us to go farther, maybe to be up on the team board," Davis said. "We just had a bad quarterfinals."
Davis, like his friend Oliver, went long to earn a championship spot, beating Lansing's Dillon Scanlon in three extra periods with a two-point takedown. Davis was second at 145 pounds last season.
"I can get revenge on last year's loss," Davis said. "I've never had a state title, so that would be big my senior year."
Arkansas City's Colby Watters and Kash Biddle are entering today's finals with something to prove.
Watters wants to show that he's completely recovered from a concussion that sidelined him for a portion of the season. He's in the 119-pound final against Salina South's Blaine Smith.
"I've been working hard in practice," Watters said. "I came off an injury early in the season and have just been working hard. I've been behind everybody so I've just had to make up for it."
Biddle is looking to prove he's mentally recovered from finishing second last season. The Bulldogs' 135-pounder will face Hinckley tonight.
"I've been looking forward to this day," Biddle said. "Last year I got second, so now I'm just ready to get pumped up and get first this year."