There is a tradition after winning a state championship for the entire Goddard wrestling team to head to the house of coach Brett Means for a lasagna dinner prepared by his wife, Denise.
If they wanted, the Lions could have eaten lasagna on Friday night.
Goddard qualified the most wrestlers, 13, sent the most to the semifinals, 10, and will have the most wrestling for a championship with six, as the Lions scored 170.5 points and lead the Class 5A field by 49.5 points after the first day of the state tournament at Hartman Arena.
“I don’t want to say that we’ve already won,” Goddard senior Kendall Frame said. “But we have a feeling that we’ve locked it up and that’s nice.”
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Locked up enough to already smell the lasagna?
“Oh yeah, coach’s wife makes some good lasagna,” said Goddard’s Troy Fisher, who will wrestle for the 170-pound championship. “I think everyone is looking forward to that.”
While Goddard is likely to win its third straight 5A team championship and its seventh title in the last 12 seasons, this year’s team has the chance to be the deepest team under Means.
Means said Goddard has never had 10 in the semifinals before, although last year’s team did place 11 in the top four.
“This year’s team is very comparable and that’s because a lot of these guys were on last year’s team,” Means said. “I was very pleased with how we wrestled (on Friday). We lost three matches in the semifinals I felt could have gone either way, but that’s wrestling.”
Means is referring to the losses by Will Spexarth, who lost a 5-3 decision to Mill Valley’s Dylan Gowin, Lane Glover, who lost 3-1 in overtime to Mill Valley’s Conner Ward, and Austin Andres, who led 5-1 at the start of the third period but lost a 7-5 decision to Newton’s Wyatt Hendrickson. Trevor Dopps also lost 5-1 in the semifinals to Arkansas City’s Jake Beeson.
Even with those tough losses, Goddard had plenty of highlights.
Logan Pirl will get a rematch with Arkansas City’s Marcus Robinson, whom he lost to last week at regionals, for the 126 title, as will Garrett Lange in the 145 title match against Andover’s Paul Stuart. Both will be looking for their first titles, while Troy Fisher, at 170, will also wrestle for his first title against Leavenworth’s Daniel Butler.
“I wanted to wrestle (Stuart) again because he’s an amazing wrestler and I want to prove a point,” Lange said. “I feel like I can prove myself by beating one of the best wrestlers in Kansas for my first title.”
The Frame brothers, Kameron (152) and Kendall (160), both advanced to the finals and will each wrestle for their third straight championship.
And Cale Davidson (195) will wrestle for a title for the second straight year after surviving a 5-4 decision against Pittsburg’s Dylan Prince.
“This is a special team,” Davidson said. “I believe we’re the best team that’s ever been in Kansas. I definitely think this is the best Goddard team.”
Robinson family sends two to the finals — Watching his brother win state championships the past two seasons has motivated Arkansas City sophomore Montez Robinson in the past year to reach a final of his own.
The Robinson family will have two in the finals on Saturday, as Marcus advanced to the 126 final and Montez won an ultimate tiebreaker in the semifinals over Salina South’s Brenner Vogan to reach the 132 final.
The victory over Vogan was redemption for Montez, who lost last week at regionals to him. This time around Montez didn’t allow Venner to tie him up and he was able to execute his defensive game plan to reach the ultimate tiebreaker.
Choosing the bottom, Robinson was able to escape in the first 10 seconds to win to advance to the 132 finals against top-ranked Mill Valley’s Conner Ward.
“I practiced all week for that,” Montez said. “I wanted to stay out of the ties with him because that’s how he got me last week. I didn’t let him do that again and that’s how I won it (Friday).”
Marcus, a junior and the top-ranked wrestler in 126, will try for his third championship against Goddard’s Logan Pirl in a rubber match between the two. Pirl won earlier in the season, while Robinson won last week at regionals.
“This is huge for me,” Marcus said. “I’ve got big goals and this is one of them.”
Weldon barely hangs on — The buzzer sounded and Valley Center’s Sam Weldon fell toward the mat along with St. Thomas Aquinas’ Anthony Gaona.
Was it a takedown? Did it come before the buzzer?
After a brief meeting, the referees ruled no on both and Weldon (37-5), a senior, advanced to his first championship match after securing a 3-2 decision over Gaona (40-4).
“I didn’t think it was two, but I was pretty nervous and it was such a crazy ending,” Weldon said. “I wasn’t sure if they were going to give him that takedown or not, but I’m glad they didn’t.”
Gaona was ranked ahead of Weldon entering the tournament, but Weldon capitalized on an opportunity early in the third period to take a 3-1 lead.
“It felt like he didn’t really want to be that offensive, so I knew I had to take a chance there,” Weldon said. “It wasn’t really that good of a shot, but once I got deep on his leg, I knew I was going to finish it.”
Spangler back for more — Nerves still strike Kapaun Mount Carmel junior Michael Spangler before every match, even though he is the defending 106 champion.
Saturday night will be no different when Spangler (37-1) wrestles Arkansas City’s Gabe Buckbee (11-1) for the 106 championship in a rematch of the regional final.
“I’m sure I’ll still be nervous, but now I know what it’s going to feel like tomorrow before the finals,” Spangler said. “I know what the pressure is going to feel like and that’s going to help. I understand what it’s going to take and as soon as the whistle blows, then the nerves will go away.”
Mixed emotions for Newton — Newton senior Logan Treaster entered the state tournament as the top-ranked wrestler in 120, but saw his chances at a second championship end in the semifinals losing a 6-4 decision to Kansas City Schlagle’s Mason Turner. It was just the second loss of the season for Treaster (35-2).
But teammate Wyatt Hendrickson, a sophomore, advanced to the 182 finals after pulling off a thrilling come-from-behind victory in a 7-5 decision over Goddard’s Austin Andres. Hendrickson (34-5) trailed 5-1 at the start of the third period, but scored six straight points in the final 90 seconds to prevail over Andres (38-6).