Zac Gentzler's wrestling season ends with tonight's 103-pound Class 5A championship match, but the Andover Central freshman's career goal is just beginning.
If Gentzler beats Salina South's Javier Vieyra at Intrust Bank Arena, he'll be 25 percent of the way to reaching the goal he set before the Jaguars even had a practice. Gentzler didn't just want to be a four-time champion, but an undefeated four-time champion, and his three wins on Friday got him to 35-0.
"I made that my goal at the beginning of the season, to go undefeated all four years," Gentzler said. "I've had success at (lower levels of competition), but I wanted to carry that on to the high school level."
Central sent two of its five semifinalists to today's championship round and is in fourth place in the team standings. Emporia, with 123 points, is ahead of Lansing by 22 points. Arkansas City is third with 90 points, eight points ahead of the Jaguars.
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The other Central finalist is Gentzler's brother, Jake, who rallied for a pinfall victory over Salina South's Steven Plott in the 125-pound semis. Jake Gentzler, a junior, hasn't matched his brother's flashy record — he has one loss, to today's opponent, Arkansas City's Garrett Jones — but both can reach the top of the podium today.
Jake Gentzler also lost to Jones in last season's 119-pound final. Against Plott, he lost a 2-0 lead late in the third period but took a lead in overtime before pinning him.
"That would be awesome," Jake Gentzler said of the possibility of his family earning two titles tonight. "He's worked so hard and I love the kid. It would be real cool if we were able to pull off state championships."
Zac Gentzler pinned all three of his opponents Friday, needing the third period to finish off Sullivan after stopping his first two foes in the second. He held Sullivan down with such force that Sullivan stayed on the mat for more than a minute gasping for air after their match.
"I've had a lot of good ones over the years and he ranks right up there with any of them," Central coach Terry Alley said. "He's an excellent technician on his feet, keeps his head real well on the mat. (Sullivan) tonight was trying to control our hands and stop our takedowns, but (Gentzler) was patient."
Central's other set of brothers, Alex and Codie Bontz, didn't equal the Gentzlers' success. Alex Bontz, a favorite to reach the finals and carrying a 33-2 record, was upset at 135 pounds by Lansing's Garrett Hinckley, who entered the match with a 26-11 record. One of Hinckley's teammates, watching from near the entrance tunnel, said, "I never would have thought that" after Hinckley's victory.
At 140 pounds, Codie Bontz was defeated by last year's 130-pound champion, Lansing's Spencer Blew, in the semis.
Jake Sullivan also lost for the Jaguars at 119 pounds, leaving Central's individual title hopes resting on the Gentzlers. While it probably won't get Central to the top of the team standings, it will be a perfect ending for the brothers.