Moore’s comeback ends with first state wrestling medal

Louisburg senior Austin Moore (right) battles Wellington’s Kenny Fehrman during the third-place match at 220 pounds Saturday during the Class 4A Kansas State Wrestling Championships in Salina.

SALINA – Back in early November of
2018, Austin Moore was in a sling with a broken collarbone and he wondered why all
this was happening.

Moore suffered the injury during
the regional football playoffs and he didn’t get to finish his final high
school season. Not only that, his hopes of getting his first state wrestling
medal was in serious jeopardy.

 A little more than four months later, Moore
was on the medal stand with some of the state’s best wrestlers in his weight
class.

The Louisburg senior earned a
fourth-place medal at 220 pounds during the Class 4A Kansas State Wrestling
Championships last Saturday at the Tony’s Pizza Events Center in Salina. It was
his first high school state medal and it marked the end of a long journey for
Moore.

“It was pretty special for me to
get a state medal, especially because it has been a goal of mine ever since I
started wrestling,” Moore said. “Overall, I felt like I wrestled pretty well,
but I just wish I could’ve ended it on a win.”

Moore got out to a strong start in
the state tournament as he earned a spot in the semifinals. He opened tournament
action with a 30 second pin of Chanute’s Tuker Davis and then pulled out a 3-2
decision in overtime against Scott City’s Kyle Sherwood.

Unfortunately for Moore, he ran into eventual state champion Braden Morgan of El Dorado in the semifinals and was pinned.

Senior Austin Moore pulls his opponent to the mat Saturday during the Class 4A state tournament in Salina.

Still, Moore was able to win
another match on the back side of the bracket with a 7-2 decision over Winfield’s
Zach Phillips and went up against Wellington’s Kenny Fehrman for third place.

Moore and Fehrman went into
overtime, but the Louisburg senior lost a 3-1 decision to give him the
fourth-place medal. The match was tied at 1-all in the third period, but Moore
couldn’t get the escape he needed to take the lead and Fehrman forced overtime,
where he was able to get a takedown.

Despite the loss, and shortened
season, Moore was happy with his year and he was able to accomplish his goal of
a state medal.

“It was definitely a quick season,
but I had a lot of fun with my teammates and coaches,” Moore said. “I wasn’t
even sure if I was going to be able to wrestle at all during most of the season
because of the injury, so at first I didn’t even know if it would be possible
for me to get a medal. I am very thankful that I got healed up and decided to wrestle
my senior year.

“I’m already missing it quite a
bit. It feels like I should have more matches left since I really only wrestled
half of the matches that most people usually do in one year. I was a little
disappointed with my last match, but I was also thankful that I even had the
opportunity to wrestle in the state tournament and earn a medal.”

Moore’s return to the team in late
January also helped the rest of the Wildcat squad as they geared up for their
stretch run.

“When you think about the fact that Austin missed nearly two-thirds of
the season because of the broken collarbone, he finished remarkably well,”
Louisburg coach Bobby Bovaird said. “He went out and wrestled with kids who had
30-plus matches this season, kids who have been to state before, and kids who
had been ranked throughout the season.

“Last season was a tough ending for him, losing a decision in the blood
round on a last-second takedown, and then there was the uncertainty for this
season. We missed having Austin in the practice room the first part of the
season, but once he got cleared, he never looked back and the team morale was
definitely boosted with his presence.”

Although Moore was the Wildcats’ lone medalist on the season, Louisburg
had two other wrestlers who were one win away from accomplishing that goal in
senior Blue Caplinger and sophomore Cade Holtzen.

Louisburg senior Blue Caplinger tries to keep Prairie View’s Hunter Boone on the mat during his blood round match Saturday in Salina.

Caplinger was on the verge on the earning a state medal on two different occasions, but in both instances, he was on the wrong end of a call in the final seconds of both matches.

The Louisburg 170-pounder began his state tournament with a 14-1 major
decision of Winfield’s Cole Finey and then met Smoky Valley’s Dax Hopp in the
quarterfinals.

Caplinger had a one point lead with less than five seconds left in the
match when the two wrestlers were scrambling and Hopp was able to get the
takedown as time expired. The lead official didn’t see the takedown and didn’t
award the points, but the second official went over after time was up and told
the lead official what he saw and gave Hopp the two points and the win in the
6-5 match.

Despite the disappointment, Caplinger (32-5) battled back to pin
Frontenac’s Storm Niegsch in 42 seconds and advanced to the blood round where
Caplinger met Prairie View’s Hunter Boone.

Caplinger, who had defeated Boone on a couple different occasions this
season, found himself in a close match with the Prairie View junior. The two
went into overtime, and Caplinger was able to get a takedown to take a 4-2
lead.

As time was running out in the third overtime, Boone was able to take
Caplinger down to the mat as time expired to tie the match again. Officials
confirmed with the table that time hadn’t expired and it went to an ultimate
tie-breaker.

Caplinger had to ride out Boone for 30 seconds to get the win, but
Boone was able to get the escape for the victory. The loss ended Caplinger’s
Wildcat career as he was trying for his first state medal.

“I think Blue’s state tournament is one that will stick with me the
rest of my career,” Bovaird said. “Anyone who knows Blue understands what a
great young man he is. Blue embodies so much about what wrestling is all
about. I wanted him to get that state medal so badly, and he came so close not
once, but twice. He’ll get over the pain of the loss, as will I. With these
sorts of setbacks, Blue has demonstrated that he’s gained the resilience to be
a champion in life.”

Sophomore Cade Holtzen tries to turn his opponent Saturday during the Class 4A state tournament at 113 pounds.

As for Holtzen, the Wildcat 113-pounder opened the tournament with a
pin of Augusta’s Collin Jackson and then met the state’s No. 1-ranked wrestler in
the quarterfinals in Abiliene’s William Stroda.

Holtzen and Stroda were in a low scoring match, but Stroda was able to
get a third-period escape and leave with a 1-0 decision.

That loss sent Holtzen (33-6) to the consolation side where he won a
4-2 decision over Russell’s Stephan Baldwin that sent him to the blood round.
It was there where he saw Rose Hill’s Kyle Sackett and lost a 4-0 decision that
dashed Holtzen’s hopes of earning his second consecutive state medal.

“That sophomore year is always tough when it follows such a successful
freshman season,” Bovaird said. “Cade made some huge strides this season with
his technique and his mindset approach to wrestling. Regardless of the
preparation and the focus we put on our wrestling mindset, there’s always going
to be that pressure in the back of the guys’ minds. It’s human nature to
remember past successes and for those things to be present.

“That’s the mark of a champion, to be able to overcome those voices of
doubt and questioning. And I think Cade did just that. He demonstrated it
throughout the season. He just fell in a tough part of the bracket.”

Freshman Brandon Doles (145 pounds) finished his first state tournament
with a 1-2 record after winning a regional title the week before, while senior
Gabe Bonham (138) and sophomore Ryan Owens (120) each finished the tournament
0-2.

“One of the toughest parts about coaching wrestling is when you have a
senior who has just wrestled his last match,” Bovaird said. “There’s not a lot you
can say to make it easier, and sometimes all you can do is pick him up and give
him a hug, let him know it’s going to be all right. Gabe wrestled phenomenally
for us this season, and he was a great addition to the program.

“Ryan and Brandon both had some great moments at state, and that’s
awesome experience for them down the road. Ryan overcame the fact that he’s
giving up so much weight and he still battled with some of the state’s
toughest. Brandon came out as a freshman in the middle weights — a weight
usually populated by seniors — and won a regional championship for us. At
state, he won a big match to make it to the second day.”




Wildcats hope to bring home multiple medals from state

Senior Blue Caplinger is one of three state-ranked wrestlers from Louisburg High School that will compete in this weekend’s state tournament in Salina. The Wildcats qualified six wrestlers in all.

It has been a few years since
Louisburg has left the Class 4A state tournament with multiple state medals.

The Wildcats hope to reverse that
trend this weekend when their six qualifiers travel to the Kansas State
Wrestling Championships at Tony’s Pizza Events Center in Salina.

Louisburg features three state-ranked wrestlers going into this tournament with Austin Moore (No. 3, 220 pounds), Blue Caplinger (No. 4, 170) and Cade Holtzen (No. 6, 113). Added to that list is Brandon Doles, the 145-pound regional champion, and senior Gabe Bonham (138) and sophomore Ryan Owens (120) who qualified for state for the first time.

The road to a state medal won’t be easy for any of the six wrestlers, and Holtzen is the lone Wildcat to have earned a state medal in the past when he finished sixth last season.

“The way the
brackets were drawn and the regionals were matched up, it’ll be a tough road to
the finals for our guys,” Louisburg coach Bobby Bovaird said. “Every year, you
see crazy match-ups that happen before the state finals. Austin has the No. 1
ranked guy on his side of the bracket, so hopefully that will be our semifinals
match. If Cade wins his first match, he has the No. 1 wrestler in the
quarterfinals.

“Brandon is
getting a rematch with a Buhler kid who pinned him at Baldwin last month. Blue
has a tough quarterfinals match, but if he gets through that, he’s looking good
for a spot in the finals. Gabe and Ryan are both in great positions to win some
matches, too. You never know. It happens all the time that top-ranked kids get
upset early in the tournament. Kids who are ranked all year get beaten by
wrestlers who aren’t supposed to win. It’s all about the mindset and the
preparation.

“With all
we’ve done this season, I’m anxious to see the team’s hard work pay off,”
Bovaird continued. “They’ve bought in to the mentality we’ve been preaching this
season. Believe, compete, and do one more. These guys aren’t finished yet.
They’re already working hard at practice this week, getting ready to bring home
some hardware from state.”

Moore, who is currently 12-0 on the
season and won regionals last week, is among the favorites to earn a medal at
220 pounds but his path to the finals is a difficult one as he has the
defending state champion, Braden Morgan from El Dorado, in his half of the bracket.

He will open with Chanute’s Tucker Davis (17-25) in the first round, and if Moore were to advance, he will face the winner between Scott City’s Kyle Sherwood (30-8) and Santa Fe Trail’s Caleb Harmes (26-12).

Caplinger (30-3) also hopes to
bring home his first state medal as he earned a favorable first round matchup
after winning regionals last week. He will meet Winfield’s Cole Finey (5-14) in
the first round.

The Louisburg senior could have a
tough second round match-up at 170 pounds as he will meet the winner of Rose
Hill’s Grant Scheer (26-5) and Smoky Valley’s Dax Hopp (36-8). Scheer is
currently the No. 2-ranked wrestler in 4A.

At 113 pounds, Holtzen (31-4) is
ready to bring home another state medal as he will meet Augusta’s Collin
Jackson (20-12) in the first round. If he should advance, he will meet the
winner of Abilene’s William Stroda (39-3) and Towanda Circle’s Wyatt Wright
(32-12) in the quarterfinals. Stroda is currently the No. 1-ranked wrestler at
113 pounds.

Doles (28-9) will take part in his
first high school state tournament as the Louisburg freshman will square off
with Buhler’s Nick Elliott (34-8), while Doles lost to earlier in the season at
Baldwin. He will then meet the winner/loser of the other match between Chanute’s
Brady McDonald (33-11) and Abilene’s Austin Wuthnow (21-23).

After finishing third last week at
regionals at 138 pounds, Bonham (18-9) will meet Chanute’s Parker Winder (42-6)
in the first round and will face the winner/lose between Scott City’s Kaden
Wren (34-3) and Abilene’s Jackson Randles (24-14).

Owens (28-12), a sophomore, will
have a tough first round match as he will face Santa Fe Trail’s Christian Rowe
(39-3) in the first round. He would then meet the winner/loser between Winfield’s
Chris Ray (23-13) and Pratt’s Koda Dipman (32-9) in the next round.

Wrestling begins at 10 a.m., on Friday at the Tony’s Pizza Events Center and will wrestle through the semifinal round and one round of consolation. The rest of the consolation rounds and the finals will be held Saturday. All that action begins at 9 a.m.

To view all the state brackets and to follow along with all the action from the weekend, make sure to click here.




Wildcats qualify six for state; Moore, Caplinger, Doles win regional titles

Louisburg senior Austin Moore works for a pin of Perry’s Hayden Robb during the 220-pound regional title match Saturday in Paola. Moore, along with teammates Blue Caplinger and Brandon Doles, won regional crowns.

PAOLA – It wasn’t easy, and nor is
it supposed to be, but the Louisburg wrestling team made it look that way at
times during Saturday’s Class 4A regional tournament at Paola High School.

The Wildcats qualified six
wrestlers for state, had three regional champions and took third place in the
team standings – all while not being able to field a full team.

Louisburg’s talent was certainly
on full display during the two-day tournament in Paola. Brandon Doles, Blue
Caplinger and Austin Moore won regional crowns, Cade Holtzen was a regional
runner-up, while Gabe Bonham and Ryan Owens also qualified for state by placing
third and fourth, respectively.

As a team, the Wildcats ended up
with 138.5 points and was just 2.5 points out of second place. Ottawa won the
regional with 149.5 points and Eudora was second at 141. It was the highest regional
team finish for Louisburg since 1998.

“The way these guys wrestled this weekend shows that the program has
been doing so many things right this season,” Louisburg coach Bobby Bovaird
said. “We’ve had the obstacle of low numbers, which hurt us in our duals, but
when it comes to tournament time, we have a bunch of guys who are placing high
and that gives us a lot of team points. Taking six to state feels pretty
encouraging, and finishing third at regionals is an awesome statement for this
team.

“If a few things had gone the other way, we would have been in second
as a team. On paper, we weren’t supposed to be in the race for a regional
plaque. Almost all of our guys stepped up and scored huge team points for us.”

Moore was certainly one of those
wrestlers for Louisburg as he recovered from a broken collarbone before the
season started and eventually turned that into a regional title at 220 pounds
and a 12-0 record.

The Louisburg senior advanced to
the championship with a 7-2 decision over Anderson County’s Dallas Higginbotham
in the semifinals and then responded with a second period pin of Perry-Lecompton’s
Hayden Robb in the finals.

Moore did have to come from behind against Robb as he found himself down 2-0 in the second period, but got a little extra motivation to help get the job done.

“I knew after I gave up that takedown, I had to come back, stay smart and try not to get all the points back at once,” he said. “I tried to circle a little bit better and not get too heavy on my toes. He kind of egged me on a little bit and I was able to put him on his back. Once I got on him on his back, I didn’t want to let him up.

“I am really happy to win
regionals because when I broke my collarbone, I didn’t even know if I was going
to be able to wrestle or not. I’m just excited because this is the first time I
have won regionals and I know this will help me a lot out at state and put me
in a good place in the brackets.”

Louisburg senior Blue Caplinger lifts Piper’s Branden Martin during the 170-pound regional title match.

Caplinger marched through his
170-pound bracket much of the same way. He pinned his way to the finals, including
a third period pin of Prairie View’s Hunter Boone in the semis.

In the championship match,
Caplinger squared off Piper’s Branden Martin, and after getting a close win
against Martin earlier in the year, Caplinger controlled the match from the
start and won by an 8-3 decision.

“Last year I got fourth at
regionals, and this year there was a lot of pressure coming in with the No. 1
seed, but I was able to come in and do what I needed to get the job done,”
Caplinger said. “I am just happy going into state and we will see how
everything plays out.

“I feel I did pretty well. I could
have done better, honestly. I had some matches where I got a little too tired,
but just coming off a concussion that is to be expected.”

Freshman Brandon Doles was all smiles after he qualified for the state tournament Friday after his win in the regional semifinals.

As a freshman, Doles had the
regional debut he had hoped for as he went out and won the 145-pound title to
secure his first trip to the state tournament.

On Friday, Doles started out with
a 2-0 decision over Prairie View’s Damien Kline and then followed that up with a
tough 4-2 decision over Eudora’s Holden Andrews in the semifinals to cement his
state bid.

In the finals on Saturday, Doles
squared off with Fort Scott’s Jon Daniels and controlled the match for an 8-4
decision.

“It is crazy,” Doles said of
getting a regional title. “I didn’t think I was going to do that well this year
since I was a freshman and cutting some weight that I did. I wasn’t sure how
strong I was going to be. I just did a lot of work in practice to get to where
I am right now.

“After the first period in the
finals match I was a little gassed, but I had to stay with it. I just started
shooting in on him, would get the shot and work through that and kept him on
that mat.”

Sophomore Cade Holtzen works for a pin Friday during the Class 4A regional tournament in Paola. Holtzen finished runner-up at 113 pounds.

Holtzen also earned a spot in the
regional championship at 113 pounds. The returning Wildcat state medalist
advanced to the finals with a tough 11-7 decision over Prairie View’s Bodi
Isenhower.

That set up a rematch between
Holtzen and Osawatomie’s Chance Mitzner, the No. 2-ranked wrestler in the
state, as they both squared off earlier in the year in Baldwin, with Mitzner
winning in overtime.

Mitzner also took round two on
Saturday when he downed Holtzen in an 11-2 major decision in the finals.

“I really wasn’t wrestling my
match in the first period,” Holtzen said. “I was kind of tense and not taking
shots. I think I just got off my game plan and he got his game plan going and
it went his way from there.

“It is still a pretty good feeling
to be able to go back again. Hopefully I can place a little higher than I did
last year, but it is a pretty awesome feeling.”

Louisburg senior Gabe Bonham finished third overall at 138 pounds and qualified for state for the first time in his career.

Bonham put a nice stamp on his
senior season as he qualified for state for the first time. The Louisburg
138-pounder finished the tournament with four pins and his only loss came in
the semifinals on a 6-3 decision to Perry-Lecompton’s Thad Metcalfe.

He bounced back from that loss
nicely with a pin of Paola’ Caden Marcum in the consolation semifinal to
qualify for state. Bonham then recorded a first period pin of Fort Scott’s
Silas Taylor in the third-place match.

“It means a lot to be able to
qualify for state,” Bonham said. “It has been a long time coming. I should have
probably qualified a couple other times, but I was in my head too much. This
time, I just went out and wrestled my match.

“I am really proud of all the
guys. We have all busted our butts in practice and we get overlooked a lot in
duals and tournaments. To be able to take third with only 11 guys is
impressive.”

Sophomore Ryan Owens gets some back points Saturday during his third-place match at 120 pounds.

Owens, a sophomore who is in his
first year as a full-time varsity wrestler, moved up to 120 pounds to start the
season and hasn’t looked back as he also qualified for state for the first
time.

He opened the tournament with a
5-3 decision over Baldwin’s Lucas Hopper before getting pinned by Anderson
County’s Ryland Wright in the semifinals.

Owens bounced back Saturday with a
10-6 decision over Eudora’s Larry Gulley in the consolation semifinals, before falling
to Atchison’s Jake Rebant in the third-place match.

“It feels really good because I
wasn’t expecting to be where I am at right now, bumping up to 120,” Owens said.
“I have learned how to handle to kids who are taller and bigger than me and I
feel it has improved how I work in practice. I have to work harder to beat good
kids.”

Sophomore Ben Wiedenmann finished one win shy of a state berth at 182 pounds. Wiedenmann met Paola’s Mikey Stribling in the consolation semifinals, but couldn’t get the one last win he needed in a 9-1 loss to Stribling. Wiedenmann finished his day with a 3-2 record.

Senior Brian Houck saw his Wildcat career come to a close with a 1-2 record at 195 pounds and sophomore Jacob Briley was also 1-2 at 160 pounds. Freshman Nathan Hamilton was 0-3 at 132 pounds.

Louisburg will try for state
medals this weekend when it travels to Salina for the Class 4A Kansas State
Wrestling Championships. Friday’s opening action begins at 10 a.m. with matches
continuing into Saturday.




Holtzen, Moore win league titles; Wildcats place six in top four

Louisburg sophomore Cade Holtzen celebrates his victory in the 113-pound finals over Bonner Springs’ Cassius Vanderpool during the Frontier League Tournament on Saturday at Paola High School.

PAOLA – It may not have been as
important as the regional and state tournaments, but Saturday in Paola, the
Frontier League Tournament gave several Louisburg wrestlers a nice boost
heading into those bigger stages.

You could certainly count Cade
Holtzen and Austin Moore in that group.

Both wrestlers left the mats as Frontier League champions, and for Moore, it was his second league crown in as many years. The Wildcats had six wrestlers in all finish in the top four and Louisburg took fifth in the team standings.

Louisburg did all this without one
their state-ranked senior captains, Blue Caplinger, who had to sit out with an injury.
Bonner Springs won the league crown, Ottawa finished runner-up and Paola was
third.

“I’m pretty
happy with where we finished up at league,” Louisburg coach Bobby Bovaird said.
“The thing is, we’re not descending with our wrestling; we’re on the move up. I
think the guys have pushed themselves this season and kept the right mindset so
that we’re working toward peaking at the right time.

“If we’d
had Blue in the lineup, things would have been better with the team score. We
may have finished in third or fourth, which isn’t too bad at all. Bonner
Springs and Ottawa both have some great athletes in their lineups. Paola and Piper
both have some solid wrestlers, too. By adding Bonner Springs, Piper and
Tonganoxie to our league, we’ve definitely made it a pretty competitive
tournament.”

Holtzen found out first-hand how competitive the league tournament was as he made his way to the finals at 113 pounds, where he squared off with Bonner Springs’ Cassius Vanderpool. Holtzen, who is ranked No. 6 in Class 4A, found himself down 4-0 early to Vanderpool, who is ranked No. 2 in Class 5A.

The
Louisburg sophomore didn’t let the early deficit get him down as Holtzen
wrestled aggressive in the third period and recorded some back points before
pinning Vanderpool with 21 seconds left in the match to earn his first league
title and improve his record to 28-3 on the season.

“Right before his finals match, I pulled Cade aside and told him to go
have fun and to do what he does best,” Bovaird said. “I told him to enjoy
himself. That’s the thing about wrestling. If you don’t enjoy it, you’re not
going to perform at your best. It’s a tough sport, and not everything is going
to be fun. The enjoyment has to be there, however. I think that’s what he did.
He just went out and kept wrestling. He wasn’t watching the clock, and he
wasn’t panicking when he was down by points. He kept pressing on, and that’s
what wins key matches.”

Louisburg senior Austin Moore works for a pin Saturday during the Frontier League Tournament. Moore won the league crown at 220 pounds.

Moore, who is in just his second tournament back from injury, made his
presence known. The Louisburg senior rolled through the 220-pound bracket and
pinned his way to a league title, including a pin of Ottawa’s Jared Ferguson in
the second period.

Moore improved his record to 8-0 on the season and is currently No. 2
in the state in Class 4A.

“I’m loving having Austin back in the lineup,” Bovaird said. “As long
as I’ve known him, since about 4th grade, he’s been one of the hardest working,
most disciplined wrestlers to come through our program. That young man has been
raised right, and it shows with everything he does, whether it’s in the
classroom, on the football field, or on the wrestling mat. You wouldn’t be able
to tell that he’s only been back on the mat since the end of January just by
watching him wrestle at meets. He’s a fierce competitor, and he’s relentless.”

Freshman Brandon Doles made his first league tournament a memorable one
as he reached the league finals at 145 pounds. He defeated Paola’s Corey Holub
by a 4-1 decision and Eudora’s Holden Andrews by a 6-3 decision earns a spot in
the finals.

Doles met Bonner Springs’ Holden Lentz, and despite getting pinned,
earned a second-place league finish and improved his record to 25-9 on the
season.

Louisburg freshman Brandon Doles finished second in the Frontier League at 145 pounds.

Senior Gabe Bonham (138 pounds) and sophomore Ben Wiedenmann (182) each
had big days as they finished with just one loss and both medaled third. Bonham
(14-8) pinned Bonner Springs’ Shane Daniels in the third place match, while
Wiedenmann (21-9) navigated a tough 182-pound bracket and won a close 5-4
decision over Baldwin’s Cy Hockey in his third-place match.

Sophomore Ryan Owens also found
his way to the podium at 120 pounds as he finished fourth. Owens was 2-1
heading into this third-place match with Baldwin’s Lucas Hopper, but could lost
a close 1-0 decision to run his record to 26-10 on the season.

“Brandon stepped
up and won a couple tough matches to make the finals, and I love how coachable
he is,” Bovaird said. “He’s made the transition into the high school level of
wrestling very well. Gabe and Ben are seeing the benefits of their hard work
now paying off on the mat. Gabe is probably one of the hardest workers in the
practice room, and it’s helping him and his practice partners. Ben is such a
smart athlete, and now that he’s seeing more success, he’s gaining a huge boost
in confidence.

“Ryan is
still demonstrating that he’s an absolute warrior. It’s not easy bumping up a
weight, but he’s been doing that all season without complaint, and I love the attitude
he’s showing. The postseason is looking pretty bright for all these guys.”

Senior Brian Houck ended his
tournament on a strong note at 195 pounds as he pinned Bonner Springs’ Ismael
Hernandez in the second period to finish in fifth overall. Freshman A.J. Reed
filled in for Caplinger at 170 pounds to take seventh and sophomore Jacob
Briley was eighth at 160.

The season will end for some of
the Wildcats this weekend as they return to Paola. Louisburg will take part in
the Class 4A regional tournament beginning Friday and wrapping up Saturday at
Paola High School.

The top four in each weight class
will earn a berth in the state tournament in Salina and the Wildcats are
excited to see what their future holds.

“Sunday, I had a pretty good sized group come in for an optional
practice, and the thing we ended with was a little talk about the mindset we
need to have,” Bovaird said. “No one needs to worry about their records, their
seeds, having to beat so-and-so, or anything like that, which is beyond their
control. We need to focus on one thing: wrestling our best. That’s the only
pressure they should have, and that’s one of the few things within their
control.

“Attitude and effort have been awesome this year for all our guys. They
believe in themselves, and they compete every day, whether it’s drills,
sprints, or live wrestling. Now, the kids who have been putting in extra work
are poised to see big things happen. Regionals is always exciting — you never
know what can happen.”




Wildcat wrestling falls to Piper on Senior Night

Louisburg senior Blue Caplinger works for a pin Thursday during the Wildcats’ dual with Piper on Senior Night at Louisburg High School.

In what was its final time to
wrestle on its home mats, the Louisburg wrestling team wanted to leave a positive
impression.

The Wildcats battled hard Thursday
when it hosted Piper on Senior Night, but came up just short as they fell,
39-31. Louisburg had to give up points in three open weight classes, which
turned out to be the difference.

“On paper, I thought we matched up pretty
well with Piper,” Louisburg coach Bobby Bovaird said. “It looked like several
of the matches were going our way, and we should have been able to pull out the
dual win, despite giving up opens at 126, 132 and 285. Their coach did some
last-minute playing around with their line-up, and it worked out in their favor
unfortunately.”

With both teams open at 106, the Wildcats got on the board first as sophomore Cade Holtzen earned at pin a 113 pounds and sophomore Ryan Owens won by decision at 120.

Louisburg senior Gabe Bonham tries to pick up his opponent during the 138 pound match.

Louisburg was open at the next two
weights, but picked up victories when senior Gabe Bonham won by pin at 138 and
freshman Brandon Doles won by major decision at 145. Piper won two matches
before senior Blue Caplinger won by pin at 170 pounds.

However, Piper had the upper-hand in
three of the next four matches to help seal the win over Louisburg. Senior
Austin Moore was the Wildcats’ lone victory when he won by pin at 220 pounds.

“There were lots of positives worth noting, but in the end, it was the holes in our lineup that hurt us,” Bovaird said. “We’re a small and young team. Next season, we’ll be looking to solidify our lineup some more. It’s just tough dropping our last dual of the season on Senior Night. I was hoping for a little bit of a morale boost from that win. That’s the way things go. We’ve got no choice but to refocus and hit our reset button for the next three weeks.”

Before the dual, the Wildcat had a chance
to honor their five seniors in Brian Houck, Hunter Day, along with Bonham,
Caplinger and Moore. All five wrestlers have left their stamp on the Wildcat
program and they still plan on doing more when postseason wrestling begins
later this week.

“Gabe moved here
from Gardner the summer before his junior year,” Bovaird said. “He’s been a
welcome addition to the program, bringing a very strong background in wrestling
and a very positive attitude. He’s a very dynamic wrestler who’s dangerous on
his feet and on top. 

“Blue has been a
quiet team leader for a long time now. He’s got a work ethic and discipline
that you don’t find too often with teenagers. He’s got a charismatic
personality that inspires his peers. 

“Hunter wears a
friendly smile on his face all the time, and that positivity will be missed.
This season has been tough seeing him sidelined with a shoulder injury. I know
it’s been killing him not being able to finish his senior year. He’s remained
with the program and been a very positive supporter for the guys every
week. 

“Brian moved here
from West Virginia his sophomore year. I saw him in the hallway and struck up a
conversation with him. ‘You look like a wrestler,’ I said to him. He had no
experience in the sport, but he gave it a shot and he’s been a hard worker for
us ever since. He’s got an incredibly promising future and I’ve been very proud
to work with him these last three years. 

“Austin is the kind
of kid who inspires his teammates, and he doesn’t even have to say much,”
Bovaird continued. “Once he got cleared to return to wrestling after his broken
collarbone, we feel an immediate change in the practice room atmosphere. He’s a
dedicated leader, an example of the term ‘hard work,’ and an incredible
motivator for his peers. I can’t tell you how happy I am that he’s able to
salvage the remaining part of his senior season.”

Along with the
wrestlers, Louisburg also honored its three senior managers as Raven Hamilton,
Claire Reitz and Kammy Mitchell were recognized for their years of service as
well.

“These three
managers have been dedicating so much time these past four years,” Bovaird
said. “I’m not sure what we’ll do without them next year. I can only hope the
younger managers have paid attention to the awesome work they’ve been doing,
whether it’s washing uniforms, keeping stats at tournaments, videoing matches,
taking photographs, running errands, or any other odd task the coaches have
given them. They’re all outstanding young adults and we can’t thank them enough
for everything they do.”

Louisburg will begin its postseason
schedule starting Saturday when the Wildcats travel to Paola for the Frontier
League Tournament. Matches are set to begin at 9 a.m.




Moore wins title in first tourney back to lead Wildcats at Baldwin

Louisburg senior Austin Moore rolls an opponent to his back Saturday during the Baldwin Invitational Tournament. Moore won the 220-pound crown.

BALDWIN CITY – It’s been more than
two months since Austin Moore broke his collarbone during football season and
the Louisburg senior has finally found his way back to the wrestling mat.

Moore was cleared for action last
week and he was prepared to ease back into grind of the wrestling season. As it
turned out, he picked up right where he left off a year ago.

Moore, who was a state qualifier
last season, made quick work of his opponents Saturday during the Baldwin
Invitational. He recorded three pins in a total mat time of 2 minutes and 28 seconds
to win the 220-pound title, including an 11 second pin of Baldwin’s Toby Thomas
in the championship match.

The victory shot Moore up the
state rankings as he is currently the No. 2-ranked wrestler in Class 4A at 220
pounds. He made his official return Thursday in a dual with Ottawa where he won
by decision.

“After Austin’s first match Saturday, I shook his hand and told him how
glad I was to have him back,” Louisburg coach Bobby Bovaird said. “I missed his
style — strong shots to dominant turns. He spent less than three minutes total
on the mat Saturday. I think he’s definitely ready to be back, and after his
first match jitters on Thursday, he looks like he’s hardly missed any time on
the mat. Thursday’s match was against a tough kid, and we could see that Austin
wasn’t quite in wrestling shape, but it didn’t cause him to make mistakes. It
only made him a little more conservative.

“I told him not to worry about match outcomes these next few weeks. He
just needs to focus on the process of getting back to where he needs to be to
be his strongest for league, regionals, and state.”

Moore wasn’t the only Wildcat to have success Saturday at Baldwin as
senior Blue Caplinger (170 pounds) and sophomore Cade Holtzen (113) both earned
a spot in the championship match. Freshman Brandon Doles (145) also medaled and
finished third.

Holtzen, who won by technical fall and a pin to reach the finals, squared off with Osawatomie freshman Chance Mitzner, who was undefeated. Holtzen (No. 4 in Class 4A) and Mitzner (No. 5 Class 4A) provided lot of dramatics, but Holtzen lost a tough overtime match in a 7-5 decision that saw two state-ranked foes going at it.

“I think that loss was more damaging for his confidence than anything,
but the great thing about Cade is that he’s a smart kid,” Bovaird said. “He’s a
resilient kid. He’ll take a loss like that and it’ll bug him, but he won’t
dwell on it. He’ll watch match footage, he’ll refocus his mental game, and
he’ll double his efforts in the practice room.”

As for Caplinger, he picked up two big wins on his way to the finals.
Caplinger earned a pair of quick pins to reach the semifinals and went on to
earn a tough 3-1 decision over Prairie View’s Hunter Boone.

That set up a finals match with Storm Slupianek from Marysville. Slupianek is ranked No. 5 in the state and Caplinger is No. 6, and the finals match remained close in the third period when Caplinger was down just two points. Caplinger ended up falling in an 8-1 decision to finish second overall.

“Blue came through with a great semifinals win against a very strong
kid from Prairie View,” Bovaird said. “He continues to keep himself in every
match with his physical strength and his self-discipline. You don’t see Blue
get out of position too often, and because of that, kids struggle to score on
him. That’s what opened up the finals match against the Marysville wrestler.

“It was 3-1 midway through the third period. Blue took a risk, opened
up a little, and got caught. That match, along with his semis match,
highlighted a few key areas we need to focus on these next few weeks.”

Freshman Brandon Doles works for positioning during a match Saturday in Baldwin.

Doles had a difficult road at 145 pounds, including a loss to the
eventual champion in the semifinals, but he responded with a close 1-0 decision
over Marysville’s Keegan Caudillo and then went on to defeat Rock Creek’s
Hunter Nold for the second time in the tournament by a 7-2 decision.

“Brandon has been one of the most coachable kids on the squad this
season,” Bovaird said. “He’s got extensive youth wrestling experience, but here
he is as a freshman scrapping with some of the best in the state. As the No. 5
seed in the tournament, he had to face a tough kid in the quarterfinals. He
upset that kid 5-3, and ended up having to wrestle him again for third. That
kid had been ranked in state earlier this season, so I’m really happy with
Brandon’s progress.”

Four other Wildcats also earned places at Baldwin. Senior Gabe Bonham
(138 pounds) finished in sixth place overall and sophomore Ryan Owens (120) was
seventh. Anthony Welborn (138) and Jacob Briley (160) each took eighth.

Louisburg finished sixth in the 11-team tournament with 123 points.
Marysville won the tourney title with 204 points and Santa Fe Trail was second
at 139.

“We wrestled really well, and I was pretty happy to see them bounce
back strong after the tough dual loss Thursday and the snow day on Wednesday,”
Bovaird said. “I feel like the focus was definitely in line at Baldwin.”

The Wildcats will host their final home meet of the season Thursday
when it squares off with Piper on Senior Night. Matches are set to start at 6
p.m. as the Wildcats will honor their five seniors – Gabe Bonham, Blue
Caplinger, Brian Houck, Austin Moore and Hunter Day.




Wildcats medal five at Parsons Invitational

Louisburg’s Anthony Welborn (left) was one of five Wildcat wrestlers to medal last Friday in Parsons.

PARSONS – There aren’t many
breaks, if any, in the Louisburg wrestling schedule this season and that was
true again Friday when the Wildcats traveled to the Parsons Invitational.

Louisburg competed against two
ranked teams in Mill Valley and Lebanon, Mo., among several other tough
opponents. Still, the Wildcats were able to find their way to the medal stand.

The Wildcats medaled five
wrestlers in the top four and two of those found their way to the championship
match. Sophomore Cade Holtzen and senior Blue Caplinger each finished second overall
in their respective weight class.

Senior Gabe Bonham and freshman Brandon Doles each finished third, while teammate Anthony Welborn, who was wrestling unattached, took fourth.

“It was a good tournament for us in a lot of ways, but chiefly it
highlighted that we still have some areas to work on,” Louisburg coach Bobby
Bovaird said. “I love that our kids are staying competitive in our matches.
There were some solid teams there last weekend. Mill Valley is No. 6 in 6A and
Lebanon is No. 5 in Missouri 3A. Throw in all the individually ranked kids in
the tournament, and it was tougher than it has been in the past.”

Caplinger made Louisburg history at 170 pounds when he picked up
his 100th career victory. He recorded a pin and won by major decision
to reach the title match.

He squared off with Quentin Sanders, the No. 2 ranked wrestler
in Class 6A from Wichita West, and Caplinger held his own despite the 3-0 loss.

“Blue ran into a freshman phenom from
Wichita West,” Bovaird said. “He lost 3-0, but the thing I liked most about
that match was that Blue was technically sound. With the exception of the quick
escape and takedown his opponent scored, Blue initiated every move in that
match.”

As for Holtzen, he cruised to his final match at 113 pounds
against Lebanon’s Cole Patten. Holtzen controlled the match, but was caught in
a move and was pinned to hand Holtzen just his second loss this season.

“Cade was looking strong in his finals
match, but he got caught in a funk move,” Bovaird said. “It was just a simple
mistake of getting a little too high in a scramble and then his opponent was
able to lock him up tight in a ‘high flyer.’ Cade has watched the video of that
match, and I think the lesson has been learned.”

Bonham (138 pounds) and Doles (145
pounds) both reached the semifinals, but each lost by decision. However, both
wrestlers bounced back to take third as Bonham defeated Welborn by major decision,
while Doles pinned Labette County’s Braden Barragar.

The Wildcats finished sixth in the team
standings with 66.5 points, while Lebanon was first with 238 points. Mill
Valley was second with 172.

“This season, we’ve been talking a lot about believing in the
process and competing in everything we do. It’s derived from our ‘Wildcat Style’
philosophy that I’ve adapted from the University of Missouri head wrestling
coach Brian Smith,” Bovaird said. “The final component of ‘Wildcat Style’ is
the idea of ‘doing one more.’ Whether it’s doing one more rep at practice, one
more drill after training is over, or one more lift in the weight room, the
philosophy of doing one more is infectious in everything we do.

“It helps the wrestlers remember that we have outcome goals —
going to state, having a winning record, winning state, etc. — and then we
have process goals. Those are the goals we set each week to work toward our
final outcome goals. I think the Parsons meet helped reinforce a lot of things,
but it also showed us that we need to be digging deeper and doing a little more
to get ready for competitions.”

Louisburg returns to the mat tonight when it travels to Ottawa for a dual. Then on Saturday, the Wildcats will compete in the Baldwin Invitational. That tournament is set to begin at 9 a.m.




Louisburg falls to Spring Hill, celebrates alumni reunion

Louisburg’s Jacob Briley grapples with a Spring Hill opponent Thursday during the Wildcats’ home dual with the Broncos. Louisburg came up short in a 54-24 loss.

The Louisburg wrestling team fell
to Spring Hill in a home dual last Thursday in a 54-24 loss to the Broncos, but
like it has been most of the season, the open weights have hurt the Wildcats.

Louisburg was open at three
different weights, and along with that, lost some key matches to the Broncos.

 “On varsity, we ran into some tough kids,” Louisburg coach Bobby
Bovaird said. “Some of our usual match-winners couldn’t come out with a win,
especially at 138, 145 and 152. Again, our open weights hurt us
pretty badly. Having so many opens doesn’t do us well when we have a lot
of dual competitions.

 “I was hoping that we would match up better at other weights, but
it just didn’t go in our favor. We wrestled well, that’s for sure, but Spring
Hill’s style helped us identify several key areas we need to be working on.
They’re a very technical, disciplined, and strong team. You can always expect
that when you go up against a group coached by Tucker Woofter. Even though I
don’t like taking a loss at home, we needed something like that dual to help us
refocus. It’s time to hit our ‘reset buttons’ and get back to work. 

The Wildcats found themselves down 12-0 early, but came back to tie. Sophomores Ryan Owens and Cade Holtzen both weighed in at 120 for the dual, and after Owens won by forfeit at 120, Holtzen bumped up two weight classes from his normal 113-pound spot.

Holtzen responded with a pin at 126 pounds to give Louisburg some
momentum, but after another open at 132 pounds for Louisburg, Spring Hill
rattled off four straight victories to all but put the dual meet away.

Louisburg did manage to get a couple more wins as senior Blue Caplinger
recorded a quick pin in 13 seconds to win at 170 pounds. Sophomore Ben
Wiedenmann followed with a pin of his own at 182.

It was also Alumni Night for the Wildcats as several former wrestlers
came back to be recognized in front of the crowd, among those was 1977 graduate
Terry Scott, who flew in from Houston to attend the event, along with his
father, Wayne, who helped start what became the Louisburg Wrestling Club.

Terry Scott, a 1977 graduate of LHS, waves to the crowd after he was recognized during Alumni Night on Thursday. Scott, who lives in Omaha, flew in from Houston to attend the event.

“This is one of my favorite events we host,” Bovaird said. “I got the
idea from Damon Parker, the new coach at Washburn Rural in Topeka. Five years
ago, he hosted an alumni reunion and I had the chance to attend with Washburn
Rural being my alma mater and the school I coached at my first eight years as a
teacher. I decided to try it out with Louisburg, and it’s been phenomenal ever
since. Shawn Crossley (’98) and Bruce Caldwell (’90) have been huge in helping
get word out.

“We had guys from all throughout the years show up. The biggest class
represented was 1977 (Jene Vickrey, Terry Scott, and Dan Cook), and the
farthest distance traveled was Terry Scott — he flew in from Houston, but
lives in Omaha). We had over 23 various alumni in attendance from wrestlers to
coaches to managers. We had 12 state qualifiers and three state medalists
attend. They collectively earned over 800 varsity wins, and that number doesn’t
include everyone’s stats.”

The event helped brighten a tough defeat for the Wildcats, which turned out to be their first home dual loss since 2014, when they fell to Paola. However, the Wildcats were able to find success on the junior varsity level as they finished the night with a 7-1 record.

Louisburg was scheduled to participate in the Topeka Invitational last
Saturday, but it was cancelled due to weather. The Wildcats will try and
rebound Friday when they travel to Parsons for a dual tournament.




Meek, Graham inducted into inaugural LHS Wrestling Hall of Fame

Don Meek (left) and Dee Graham were inducted as the first class of the LHS Wrestling Hall of Fame on Saturday during the Wildcat Classic, the same tournament Meek started almost 50 years ago.

The Louisburg High School wrestling
program is in its 50th season of existence and current head coach
Bobby Bovaird wanted to do something special to recognize those Wildcats who came
before him.

So, he decided to start the Louisburg High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in hopes of honoring those who have left their mark with the program. Bovaird figured what better place to start than the forefathers of Louisburg wrestling.

Before the championship matches of
the Wildcat Classic on Saturday at Louisburg High School, Bovaird introduced
the two first members of the hall of fame – and not ironically – they were the
first coaches in the program’s long history.

Don Meek, the program’s founder
and first head coach, along with long time coach Dee Graham were recognized in
front of the Louisburg faithful and were presented with plaques to commemorate
their hall of fame induction.

“I’ve been in contact with them throughout the years I’ve been at
Louisburg, and I’ve always had the notion of honoring them at our home
tournament — the tournament that Don Meek started in 1971 and the tournament
that both Don and Dee Graham won multiple times during their tenures as head
coach,” Bovaird said. “Having them present at the tournament was pretty
special, but I think one of the most amazing things was the gratitude, respect,
and love I saw expressed for both coaches at the tournament and through social
media afterwards.

“These guys were integral in the legacy that LHS wrestling is built
upon, but more importantly, they touched a lot of lives beyond the wrestling
mats. I hope our wrestlers recognize the tradition that these men established
and that it helps bolster their pride in the program.”

During the 1969-70 school year, Meek began the LHS wrestling program and served as head coach from 1969 until 1977, when he retired from coaching to take on full-time administrative duties.

As the head coach, Meek took a team that was 0-8 in its first season to
an undefeated Jayhawk League championship the next year. The Wildcats were also
Jayhawk champions in 1972 and 1974.

Louisburg was the Class 2A district runner-up in 1971, 1972 and 1973 and Meek coached one state champion and 31 state qualifiers during his tenure as head coach.

Graham, who served as an assistant coach under Meek, took over head
coaching duties in 1977 before retiring in 1999.

In his time as head coach, Graham notched more than 100 dual wins. The Wildcats
were Jayhawk League champions in 1983 and Frontier League champions in 1984,
1997 and 1998.

Louisburg was the Class 4A regional runner-up in 1980 and Graham coached
two state champions in Tim Dozier and Sonny Ewalt, along with nine state
medalists and 68 state qualifiers.




Caplinger, Holtzen wins home tourney titles; Wildcats medal 8

Louisburg sophomore Cade Holtzen takes an opponent down to the mat Saturday during the Wildcat Classic on Saturday at Louisburg High School.

The beginning of the season hasn’t
exactly been a smooth one for the Louisburg wrestling team as it has dealt with
numerous injuries, which has forced several wrestlers to move around weight
classes.

That is why the Wildcat Classic
couldn’t have come at a better time.

After a little time off for the
holidays, the Wildcats took part in their home tournament Saturday at Louisburg
High School and ended the day with eight medalists, including a pair of champions.
It was a nice change of pace for Louisburg to compete in front of its home
fans.

“We had a very smooth tournament,” Louisburg coach Bobby Bovaird said. “All
the people who chipped in to help made it a great event for our program,
whether it was setting up the gym, donating for our hospitality room, or
cleaning up. I love hosting a tournament in our gym — it’s almost as if the
architects had wrestling in mind when they designed it. What a fan-friendly venue
for a wrestling tournament.

“The guys wrestled really well, too. I think having lots of family,
friends, and fans cheering us on throughout the day really kept them pushing
hard in their matches. Actually, when I look back on past performances at this
tournament, I’m really happy with our conditioning and competitive mindset.
We’re coming off a long break, but the guys were focused and working hard all
week at practice.”

Louisburg senior Blue Caplinger (170 pounds) and sophomore Cade Holtzen (113) both came away with top honors as they were champions of their respective weight classes.

Caplinger finished the day with a 4-0 record, including a pair of pins,
but his final two victories were the most impressive. Caplinger, who is
currently ranked No. 5 in Class 4A, defeated No. 6 Brandon Martin of Piper by a
6-2 decision.

Senior Blue Caplinger won the 170-pound title Saturday at the Wildcat Classic.

In the championship match, Caplinger then defeated Anderson County’s
Logan Allen by a 4-2 decision to improve his record to 19-1 on the season.

“Those wins over Allen of Anderson County and Martin of Piper should be
pretty good confidence boosters for Blue,” Bovaird said. “Both are extremely
talented wrestlers. Blue keeps himself in great position every match and the
more experience he gets, the more he’s been able to start taking advantage of
his scoring opportunities. He’s really matured a lot as a wrestler, and now
that he’s a senior, he’s been pretty dominant.”

Holtzen breezed through his 113-pound bracket as he finished the day
with a 4-0 mark as well to go along with four pins. He pinned Blue Valley West’s
Joey Nichols in the championship in the second period to improve his record to
19-1 on the year.

Holtzen is currently ranked No. 4 in Class 4A at 113 pounds and
captured his second consecutive Wildcat Classic title.

“I especially liked how Cade utilized his mat time this weekend,”
Bovaird said “I saw him hitting some crisp techniques and trying out some new
moves. He’s got a mindset that’s keeping him focused on his end goals for the
season, and he’s taking advantage of the process of improving every match. That
takes discipline.

“A lot of wrestlers will see a match against a lesser opponent as an
opportunity to try “funk” moves or to try to embarrass their
opponents. I’m proud of how Cade took advantage of his matches to work on
improving the techniques that will win him key matches at regionals and state.”

Six other Wildcats captured medals, including sophomore Ryan Owens, who
took second at 120 pounds. Senior Gabe Bonham (138) and freshman Brandon Doles
(145) took third overall, while sophomore Anthony Welborn (138), freshman Aiden
Barker (145) and sophomore Ben Wiedenmann (182) finished fourth.

Owens improved his record to 17-4 on the season after he began his day
with four consecutive wins, including a pin of Tonganoxie’s Hunter Harris in
the semifinals. Owens was pinned by Anderson County’s Ryland Wright in the championship
match in the second period.

“All season long, Ryan has been sacrificing for
the better of the team, and I couldn’t be any prouder of him,” Bovaird said. “He’s
not just bumping up to fill in at 120; he’s competing there. He’s got a lot of
experience with wrestling throughout the years, and here he is at full strength
battling with kids who are cutting weight. He’s a warrior on the mat, and if
he’s bothered by the weight difference, you couldn’t tell. 

Louisburg senior Gabe Bonham works for a pin Saturday during a 138-pound match.

Bonham went 3-2 on the day, including a pin over Welborn in the
third-place match. Doles also had a 3-2 performance at 145 pounds and won by
major decision over Barker in the third place match.

Wiedenmann started his day with three straight wins, but lost a pair of
decisions to Anderson County’s Dominic Sutton and Baldwin’s Cy Hockey to end
his day. Both Sutton and Hockey are ranked No. 5 and No. 6 at 182 pounds.

Luke Kelly (113 pounds, fifth), Nathan Hamilton (132, eighth), Jacob
Briley (160, eighth), A.J. Reed (182, ninth) and Sam Kratochvil (220, sixth)
also wrestled for the Wildcats.

As a team, Louisburg finished
seventh in the team standings with 134 points. Blue Valley West won the
tournament title with 204.5 points and Anderson County was second with 179.

“Toward the end of the tournament, when I looked at the team scores, I
was honestly surprised that we were so low,” Bovaird said. “We were winning a
lot of matches and doing well overall. It’s just a matter of having some gaps
in our lineup. Brandon Doles moved down a weight, leaving us open at 152, and
Brian Houck got sick, so we were open at 195. Hunter Day’s season was ended with
a torn labrum in his shoulder. He had surgery right after New Years Day. We
were open at five weights, and two kids who’ve been winning matches for us —
Anthony Welborn at 138 and Aiden Barker at 145 — were wrestling unattached, so
their wins didn’t gain us any team points.

“This was one of those tournaments where the team score isn’t the right
way to evaluate our success. The individual wins and the style of wrestling we
had are the methods we’re using to evaluate our progress. I saw several gaps we
need to focus on, but at the same time, I love the progression the guys have
been making all season.”

Louisburg will get another chance to wrestle at home Thursday when it
hosts Spring Hill for Alumni Night. Matches are set to begin at 6 p.m.