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No. 14 WSU hammers Drake -1/26/2015, 10:27 AM

Stafford named Offensive MVP in first Pro Bowl -1/26/2015, 10:27 AM

TMP boys, girls claim MCL title; HHS boys fall -1/26/2015, 10:27 AM

Brand tops Deterding in Bob Kuhn Classic -1/25/2015, 8:41 PM

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No. 17 Tigers dominate No. 4 Pitt State -1/25/2015, 8:41 PM

FHSU men fall short of Pitt State -1/25/2015, 8:41 PM

Friday's area prep basketball boxscores -1/25/2015, 2:45 PM

-1/25/2015, 2:00 PM

TMP girls use overtime for semifinal win -1/24/2015, 3:13 PM

Young key in Indians' semifinal win -1/24/2015, 1:22 PM

Defense lifts TMP boys to MCL title game -1/24/2015, 12:27 PM

HHS wrestling picks up dual win -1/23/2015, 10:31 AM

Finney takes step toward NFL -1/23/2015, 10:31 AM

Indians pick up first-round win -1/23/2015, 10:22 AM

K-State agrees to series with Vandy -1/23/2015, 10:13 AM

Tiger women win 16th straight -- Pitt State next -1/23/2015, 10:13 AM

Huge second half fuels Tigers -1/23/2015, 10:13 AM

Shockers roll past Missouri State -1/22/2015, 10:14 AM

KSU at Sporting Park? -1/22/2015, 10:14 AM

GCCC women's team involved in crash -1/22/2015, 10:14 AM

Tiger wrestling wins at home -1/22/2015, 10:33 AM

TMP girls survive and advance in MCL -1/21/2015, 11:36 AM

Choices for HHS swimmer -1/21/2015, 11:27 AM

Dodge City upends HHS girls -1/21/2015, 10:33 AM

Tuesday's area prep basketball boxscores -1/21/2015, 10:15 AM

Cyclones outlast Kansas State -1/21/2015, 10:06 AM

Tiger women enter Top 25 -1/20/2015, 2:31 PM

KBCA rankings, Jan. 18 -1/20/2015, 10:18 AM

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Jayhawks rally for win over OU -1/20/2015, 10:17 AM

TMP advances in MCL -1/20/2015, 10:17 AM

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Atwood 76, St. Francis 65

Dighton 62, Oberlin 47

Hillsboro 50, Goodland 47

Lakeside 42, Lincoln 32

Minneapolis 68, Russell 35

Rock Hills 42, Natoma 37

Salina Central 62, Andover 58

Salina South 62, Sacred Heart 47

Sharon Springs 75, Leoti 38

St. John's Beloit-Tipton 57, Osborne 34

Sylvan-Lucas 61, Thunder Ridge 48

Girls

Dighton 44, Atwood 11

Dodge City 71, Hays High 28

Hesston 51, Goodland 18

Hoisington 60, Victoria 46

Hoxie 65, St. Francis 13

Lincoln 33, Lakeside 26

Minneapolis 47, Otis-Bison 24

Osborne 59, Wilson 34

Sharon Springs 63, Oberlin 42

Sylvan-Lucas 43, Natoma 41 (ot)

Tescott 41, Rock Hills 33

Trego 56, Leoti 27

Thunder Ridge 33, St. John's Beloit-Tipton 30

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SPOTLIGHT
St. Francis' Blanka battles back for state appearance

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St. Francis' Blanka battles back for state appearance

Published on -3/2/2014, 9:17 PM

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By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

St. Francis High School junior 285-pounder Shakotah Blanka fractured his left hip in a 4-wheeling accident last summer. During football season, Blanka was playing fullback in practice and three teammates hit him at once at different angles, including one who had ahold of his feet. Blanka's right hip broke, and he missed the rest of football and the first part of wrestling. At first, Blanka couldn't even walk on it and required crutches.

"It was kind of tough to come back," Blanka said.

Blanka focused on the end of the year and his first trip to the Class 3-2-1A state tournament. Last week at the WaKeeney-Trego regional, he had a close match before he was pinned late by Montezuma-South Gray's Zach Crick, one of the classification's top wrestlers. Blanka pushed Crick earlier in the year, too.

Then, Blanka won his next match to earn a state berth. Blanka still feels pain every now and then if he uses the hip too much.

"I knew I could make it to state this year," Blanka said. "I just did all the rehab I could."

Blanka finished his season 20-11 when he went 0-2 on Friday and Saturday at state at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

"It was good to see him finally qualify," St. Francis coach Dylan Loyd said. "...He missed a lot of the season before Christmas break. I think for him to get here, I think it's something that he can build on confidence-wise."

Blanka lost his first match 4-0 to Sabetha junior Jacob Leuthold and then fell in 2 minutes, 29 seconds by fall to Eureka senior Quade McCoy.

"It makes you feel pretty good," Blanka said of participating. "Try to show how good I can do if I put my mind to it."

The other Indian qualifier, St. Francis sophomore Clay Cassaw, finished 1-2 and completed the season 24-9 at 132 pounds. Cassaw won his first match by fall in 3 minutes, 43 seconds, lost 9-7 in overtime and then fell, 3-2, in the final seconds to Phillipsburg senior Mason Bannister. Bannister was in the bottom position and used a rarely seen hop to earn an escape point. Cassaw had defeated Bannister twice this season.

"It was desperation," Loyd said. "We just weren't ready for it. That one was tough."

This marks the third straight season the Indians haven't won a state medal for one of Kansas' top programs. The Indians also didn't have Lane Hoffman, who qualified for state earlier in his career, but missed last season because of concussion problems and didn't qualify last week in a tough weight class.

"You miss a year at this level, that hurts an awful lot," Loyd said. "That's 30, 40 matches he could have had. It's hard to make up the difference."

St. Francis had at least one state placer every year from 1937-2011, including Loyd, who finished in the top three four times from 2003-06. Loyd and assistant coach Kyle Buffington wore "Creating a Legacy" shirts as they look to bring the St. Francis program back. Blanka and Cassaw will return next season.

"It's exciting to think about what could be, but it just comes down to, kids have got to put in the work," Loyd said. "Do you really want to get to that next level? Do you really want to get to where I feel we should be, like we have been in the past? It takes a group of kids to put in the time. Not just one or two, but you need a consensus."

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