Bontz, a junior who is 32-0 at 145 pounds and also runs track and plays football, comes from a family rich in wrestling history. His grandfather, Tony, was part of a team title with East in 1946 and started the Wichita Wrestling Club. Bontz’s dad, Lindon, was a state champ in 1974 at Kapaun and a two-time Grand State runner-up. Two uncles won state titles, and his brother, Codie, finished second while at Independent. Bontz has finished third the past two seasons.
Considering your family’s history in wrestling, I’m guessing you started wrestling at birth.
“Actually, I started wrestling toward the end of second grade. My dad just let me watch the sport for a while until I got an interest for it and started wanting to wrestle on my own. Dad didn’t want to force us into it. “. . . My dad is my mentor in the sport. He doesn’t push me hard enough that I don’t like the sport, though. I see a lot of cases where kids hate the sport from being pushed too hard.”
You like the one-on-one aspect of wrestling, but what makes you so passionate about the sport?
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“Wrestling has pretty much made me into who I am today, discipline-wise, and it’s taught me to work hard. The values you learn from wrestling are important. It’s pretty much applied to everyday life.”
How much do you wrestle with your brothers, Codie and Aidan (6), and sister Caylie (11)?
“Codie’s off to college now, but when he was home, we’d pretty much wrestle every day. . . . Whenever I get the chance and Aidan is in a good mood, I wrestle with him. Sometimes he yells for mom. . . . Caylie, my sister, she’s actually a pretty good wrestler. I would never want her to do the sport, but it’s pretty funny how she’s adapted, just messing around wrestling.”
How bad do you want a state championship?
“Every time I’ve made it to the semifinals, I’ve lost by one point, so it’s pretty hard to describe how I felt after those matches. That’s why this year, I think I’m focused on wanting to win. In both of those (semifinal) matches, I was up and I’ve lost with a couple seconds to go, so they were pretty upsetting.
“. . . In my mind right now, I’m not going to let one thing get in my way of winning state this year. I think about it every day.”
How much pressure are you putting on yourself to win?
“I put a lot of pressure on myself. There’s not really pressure from anyone, but I tend to stress myself out during the season about how I need to win. I’d say it benefits me for the most part. During the end of practices and we’re doing sprints, I think, ‘if I’m going to win this year, I have to work harder.’ I sprint a little harder, I wrestle a little harder. But in matches, I sometimes get so nervous and stressed out that I don’t wrestle to my potential. The hardest part is pushing past that. I think I’m getting there.”