High School Sports

Valley Center gets two champs

SALINA — Years from now, when Chase Nitcher and Cade Blair look back on their four years in the Valley Center wrestling program, there is so much they will be able to talk about.

They can brag about never losing a league dual.

They can mention they won the most duals by a senior class in Kansas wrestling history.

Or maybe they can recall the Class 4A championships Saturday night, when they walked off the mat at the Bicentennial Center champions — for the final time.

Nitcher won his second consecutive state championship, winning the 135-pound division 5-0 over Colton Eck from Andale, while Blair defeated Sam Son of Chanute 6-1 at 152 for his third championship.

With 178 wins, Nitcher leaves Valley Center as the career wins leader, while Blair is the only Hornet wrestler to win three state titles.

The duo led Valley Center to a second-place finish, its highest state tournament placement.

"I'm happy for the fans, the team and the community that they got to see those two — they put on a show tonight," Valley Center coach Brian Shelton said. "This is their team and they led on the mat, in the classroom, in the hotels — wherever they could. I couldn't be more happy for them."

Ever since his loss to Taylor Moeder of Lenexa St. James in the finals of the Derby Invitational, Nitcher has worked tirelessly on establishing the pace and being in charge of the match.

"Coach Shelton has been telling me to continue to stay on top and put pressure on," Nitcher said. "I needed to be the one who sets the tone."

It didn't take long for Nitcher to do that against Eck.

Following a takedown early in the first period, Nitcher was the aggressor. He constantly went after Eck and eventually wore him out.

"He rides you and rides you and it takes a toll," Eck said. "He was always coming at me and I never could adjust."

After recording a near-fall in the second period, which put his lead at 5-0, Nitcher continued his pressure and wanted to "take the fight out of him."

"In that third period, I got to my feet a couple of times, but I got outside the mat," Nitcher said. "Obviously, up 5-0, I didn't want to do anything stupid, but I needed to stay aggressive."

Earlier this season at the Rose Hill tournament, Blair faced Son and jumped out to a huge lead and cruised to a 11-3 victory.

Blair felt like if he could establish momentum early in the championship match, then Son would feel the same way he did at Rose Hill.

It took just a matter of seconds for Blair to record his first takedown and followed that with a reversal in the second period for a 4-0 lead.

"I wanted to get a lead and get in his head a little bit," Blair said. "I knew that if I got a big lead again, he would know he was going to lose."

For good measure, Blair took down Son for a final time late in the third period.

"Nobody ever recorded a takedown against Cade all season, which makes it impossible for him to lose," Shelton said. "There is no slowing Cade down. It's always all guns-a-blazing with him."

Valley Center's other finalist — Titus Hopper at 215 — lost a tough match to Taylor Wuthnow of Abilene 7-2.

"We're going to miss these seniors, but what they have done has rubbed off on the other kids," Shelton said. "This isn't a flash in the plan. We are a good program because of our seniors."

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