WICHITA — Junction City Wrestling qualified eight wrestlers to compete at state over the weekend with the boys landing six and the girls qualifying two. The girls wrestled on Friday while the boys competed on Saturday with both tournaments taking place at Wichita-Heights High School.
Junction City’s two Girls State Wrestling qualifiers were freshman Laila Lesher and junior Brooke Swango.
Lesher finished third overall in the 109-pound division, after pinning Goddard-Eisenhower’s Lanie Burkhart in the third-place match in 1:45. Before that, Lesher started off the day with a pin of Dodge City’s Alyssa Nichols in 1:03 in the quarterfinals before falling by pin to Hays’ Sarah Zimmerman in 3:09 in the semifinals. Lesher pinned Wichita-South’s Autumn Kowalski in 1:42 in the consolation semifinals to guarantee her first trip to state.
Swango started off the day in the 138-pound division with a forfeit win over Valley Center’s Cheyenne Blackwood before falling by pin to Andover Central’s Xara Bacci in 1:07. Swango punched her ticket to state with a hard-fought 3:32 pin over Wichita-North’s Sandra Arellano in the consolation semifinal. Swango ended her day with a 14-9 major decision loss to Garden City’s Bethanie Cruz.
Charly Goodwin placed for the Blue Jays but just barely missed out on qualifying for state in the 115-pound division. Goodwin went 1-3 on the day with a win in the first consolation round pinning Dodge City’s Emily Alonzo in 50 seconds.
Zahriah Tanaka (126-pound) and Aislynn Bailey (143-pound) both went 0-2 on the day.
On the boys’ side, the six state qualifiers were led by two wrestlers that made it all of the way to the first-place match in their respective weight classes.
Seniors CJ Neuman and Isaiah Zinkan both went 2-1 on the day, each falling in the first-place match in their respective weight classes.
Neuman started the day with a tech fall win over Wichita North’s Cody Meraz before getting a semifinal pin of Garden City’s Steven Sellers in 1:28. He then faced Haysville-Campus’ Nathan Bowen and lost by an 8-1 decision in the 145-pound first-place match.
Zinkan opened with a pin of Hutchinson’s Jayden Crabbs before taking a 4-3 decision win over Haysville-Campus’ Barrett Roads. He then fell in the 195-pound first-place match to Wichita Northwest’s Caden Ross in 2:44.
The Blue Jays had one third-place finisher in sophomore Kayden Blake. Blake started off the day with a win over Garden City’s Dakota Smith with a 2:59 pin before falling in the 120-pound semifinal round to Washburn Rural’s Bishop Murray by a 9-1 major decision.
The Junior Blues were a pain in the side of Junction City all day as the Blue Jays lost six matches to the eventual sub-state champions.
Blake rebounded that loss with a 5-2 decision win over Haysville-Campus’ Elissio Martinez in the consolation semifinal and a 4-0 decision win over Manhattan’s Jameal Agnew in the third-place match.
The Blue Jays rounded out their state qualifiers with three different fourth-place finishers in freshmen Ezekial Witt (106-pound) and Griffin Bohanan (152-pound) and junior Judah Peterson (220-pound).
Witt opened with a 1:39 pin of Garden City’s Julius Medina before running into a quick 34-second pin by Jonathan Morrison of Washburn Rural. He rebounded with a 4:17 pin of Liberal Daemon Duran, guaranteeing him a trip to state. He lost by a 9-5 decision to Lawrence-Free State’s Nolan Bradley.
Bohanan maybe had the toughest path of any of the qualifiers. He lost his opening match to Dodge City’s Luke Barker by a 20-7 major decision. After bouncing over to the consolation bracket, he rattled off two wins, one a 2:25 pin and the other an 8-5 decision, over Haysville-Campus’ Ryan Mortensen and Garden City’s Colin Kleysteuber to secure his spot at state. He ended the day with a 3-1 decision loss to Washburn Rural’s Nick Vincent in the third-place game.
Peterson had a similar, difficult path as Bohanan after falling by 11-1 major decision to Haysville-Campus’ Aidan Williams. He then got a 1-0 decision win over Manhattan’s Clayton Frehn before advancing on to face Wichita North’s Salvador Ornelas who he beat by an 8-2 decision to qualify for state. In the third-place match, Peterson ran into the same Washburn-Rural wall that his teammates did, falling by a 7-5 decision to Zach Franco.
Aside from the six state qualifiers, the Junction City boys also had three additional medalists that just barely missed out on joining their teammates at state next week.
Sophomore Zach Petrusky finished fifth overall at 113-pounds, going 2-2 on the day. Sophomore Patrick Foxworth (126-pound) also finished fifth and junior Anthony Petrusky (132-pound) finished sixth.
Jamie Villanueva (138-pound), Jose Padilla (160-pound) and Logan Nabus (170-pound) all went 0-2.
The boys also finished fourth as a team behind Washburn Rural, Dodge City and Lawrence-Free State.
Both the girls’ and boys’ state qualifiers will head down to Hartman Arena in Park City for the State Wrestling Tournament. The girls will wrestle on Thursday and the boys on Saturday. Gates open on both days at 11 a.m. with the first round beginning at 12 p.m.