Neither Northwest coach Eric Prichard nor Heights coach Mike Church is willing to say tonight's dual between the two wrestling programs is for the City League championship.
However, both recognize it's a big matchup, despite two months of the season remaining.
"It is early, but we only dual with Heights once," Prichard said. "We've got to make this one count."
If they are going to do so, the Grizzlies will have to ride their big three of Sean Gaither (152), Kyle Caylor (215) and Trey Page (285) —all are ranked in the top six of their weight classes, according to the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association rankings.
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Heights might be finding its groove after having so many players miss practice early because they were playing with the Falcons' football team in the state championship game. Five of those wrestlers are ranked in their weight classes.
"Both of the teams are good and we are rivals, which makes anytime we meet on the mat something we both anticipate," Church said. "I don't think coming to Heights and competing against my men is a walk in the park for anybody."
If Northwest were to knock off the defending champion tonight, it wouldn't earn the Grizzlies any title just yet, but it would certainly position them in front.
Having already defeated Bishop Carroll last week, the Grizzlies would have taken down their two biggest obstacles in the City League before the winter break.
For the Falcons, a win would perhaps be more in backing up their performance last season, when they dethroned Carroll and won the league.
"I don't care if it's Week 1 or the last week of the season, this dual is important," Church said. "We have had this one circled on our calendar for awhile."
Both coaches were hopeful that the league would move it to a later point in the season.
"It's also finals week, so this is a bad week for this dual, which could determine a lot," Prichard said. "It's tough on the kids mentally to get ready for both."
Carroll Invitational — One of the state's deepest tournaments is this weekend at Carroll.
The Eagles, who are the defending champions, host a field that includes Heights, Northwest, Andale and Campus. Matches begin at 9 a.m. Saturday.