The roller-coaster wrestling career of South junior Asiel Flores hit another high point at the Class 6A tournament Friday.
And it can surge even higher in Saturday’s final.
Flores, a state champion at 113 as a freshman, failed to qualify last year. But he used his 6-foot-2 frame for a 6-4 semifinal victory over Derby sophomore Cade Lindsey, top-ranked in the 138-pound class. Lindsey had defeated Flores at last week’s Hutchinson regional.
Height can provide an advantage in the lower weights, Flores said.
“It definitely gave me an advantage in the (Lindsey) match,” he said. “Both of those takedowns I had, I used my length. It really helped me out a lot.”
South coach Brian Westhoff agreed.
“I think so,” he said of the height advantage against Lindsey. “Anytime we can be able to have the long legs and hook the leg like that to score, that’s definitely to our advantage, as long as you know how to use it.”
And Flores, fifth-ranked at 138, can secure his second state title Saturday when he faces Olathe North’s unbeaten Tyler Flood (26-0), ranked third.
Westhoff said the key in defeating Lindsey was striking first in the match.
“With Asiel, typically scoring first and getting takedowns is big for him, and we were able to do that,” Westhoff said. “Asiel was ready for this rematch, and I’m really proud of him. We didn’t make it to state last year, so we had to refocus and really work hard this year so we can be where we’re at.
“Overcoming adversity – we talk about that all the time.”
Flores said staying aggressive against Lindsey was the key.
“Being offensive was the main key through the whole match,” Flores said. “Just keeping the pressure on him. I knew he was going to be a tough competitor, but I knew if I kept being offensive and keep taking my shots and be smart about all the setups I did that I would score points.”
Neither wrestler scored in the first period, and Lindsey managed to catch Flores at 3-3 entering the final period. But Flores outscored Lindsey 3-1 in that period for the decision.
Flores (34-9) led a charge of three Titans wrestlers into the finals, joining seniors Dallas Wilson at 120 and Kasdon Arehart at 220. In addition to the three finalists, South also has wrestlers who could help with the team point total in consolation matches. The Titans are in fifth heading into the final day.
“Those are going to be important points (Saturday),” Westhoff said. “Every one of them has a chance to come back and get third if everything goes right. They can do it; I believe in them.
“I’m just so excited for (Saturday).”