Varsity Kansas

Heights wrestling working for state championship

In recent seasons, the top spot in the Class 6A wrestling team rankings has been occupied by mostly Goddard, with Derby and Garden City occasionally making appearances at No. 1.

Since the beginning of January, though, Heights has maintained the top ranking and barring an unexpected slip, the Falcons should carry that ranking into the state tournament in three weeks.

"Rankings are what they are — a guess based on the performance of an athlete or team at that moment," Heights coach Mike Church said. "It's an honor to be ranked No. 1, but it would be more of an honor to finish the season No. 1."

Heights has chosen to pace itself throughout the season, setting the stage for its first state championship in 43 years. The Falcons have won just two tournaments, but have finished second twice and also defeated Kapaun Mount Carmel — No. 3 in 5A — last week to take the lead in the City League.

"Dynamics of tournaments change depending on the teams present," Church said. "So until the teams in the tournament are the 6A teams, we call it a good weekend, realize we are not perfect, and strive to get better."

The Falcons have nine ranked wrestlers, including two No. 1s — Daniel Deshazer (130 pounds) and Matt Reed (160). The depth the Falcons have is key for the postseason because getting points in the consolation rounds is sometimes more important than champions themselves.

"We have had some surprises individually and some others that haven't performed as well as I thought," Church said. "Our goal is to get them all feeling 100 percent physically and mentally as individuals in order to benefit the team as a whole."

Andale — Ever since its state championship in 2006, Andale has found itself near the top on Saturday at the state tournament.

Again this season, the Indians are primed for another shot at a state crown and are ranked first in Class 4A.

Most of the Indians' success this season has come relatively quietly considering all the other top programs in the area. But with six wrestlers ranked, this season appears to be Andale's best chance at a title since '06.

Even though the Indians have sat atop the rankings all year, Clay Center, the defending champion, is second and will be Andale's main threat.

Class 3A — Eureka and Central-Burden are the area's best chance for high finishes in Class 3A.

Eureka is ranked fifth, with three wrestlers in the top six of their divisions, while Central-Burden is sixth and also has three ranked wrestlers, including top-ranked Ky Biddle at 145 and Tyler McMichael at 152.