Several Junction City High School wrestlers competed at the 2021 USA Wrestling Junior and 16U National Championships at the Fargodome in Fargo, N.D. from July 16 to July 23.
Led by Ezekiel Witt who turned in an All-American performance, the Blue Jays, including Witt, Patrick Foxworth and CJ Neuman all held their own at the largest wrestling tournament in the world.
“The impact of competing in this tournament is hard to put into words,” Junction City head coach Tyler Gonzales said. “But the overall development: social, cognitive, athletic, etc., that I have seen from years of wrestlers going up to this tournament and who they become afterwards, is the difference. They may think they have a high level of commitment and then they’re exposed to something like Fargo and it changes their perception and approach to training moving forward.”
The wrestlers competed in the Cadet and Junior divisions in both Greco-Roman and Freestyle competitions.
Witt went 2-2 in Freestyle in the 94-pound division but rattled off a 6-1 record in the Greco-Roman which was good enough for third-overall in the country and All-American status which goes to the top-eight finishers.
“It was exciting to see Zeke succeed and also grow and adapt throughout the tournament, probably one of the things I’m most proud of,” Gonzales said. “He has a tendency to be a little stubborn and stick to what he is comfortable with and he remained extremely coachable by the entire Team Kansas staff throughout the entire tournament.”
Foxworth went 2-2 in Greco-Roman and 0-2 in Freestyle in the 138-pound Cadet division, Neuman went 0-2 in both Greco-Roman and Freestyle in the 160-pound Junior division and Lesher went 0-2 in Freestyle in the Cadet Women’s 112-pound division and 1-2 in Freestyle the Junior Women’s division.
In addition to those athletes, Kayden Blake and Charly Goodwin also wrestled at the state meet prior to Nationals and placed.
Witt, Foxworth, Lesher, Blake and Goodwin will all be back wrestling in Junction City blue next season while Neuman is headed to Parsons to wrestle at Labette Community College.