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Jones didn't wait to impact Kansas State -10/1/2014, 10:23 AM

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After big win, Tigers back to work -10/1/2014, 3:09 PM

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Late surge pushes Dodge past TMP -10/1/2014, 10:22 AM

Monarch XC sweeps titles at Lyons -10/1/2014, 10:22 AM

Tigers' Cole earns MIAA soccer honor -9/30/2014, 3:10 PM

Royals' playoff appearance years in the making for some fans -9/30/2014, 10:34 AM

Chiefs offense gets rolling in rout -9/30/2014, 10:31 AM

California has four teams in the playoffs for the first time -9/30/2014, 10:31 AM

TMP golf finishes third at Hoisington meet -9/30/2014, 10:35 AM

Monarchs move to 14-10 -9/30/2014, 10:30 AM

Big 12 coaches react to firing -9/30/2014, 10:21 AM

HHS volleyball goes 2-3 in Newton -9/29/2014, 10:27 AM

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Tiger tennis finishes fall season 5-2 -9/29/2014, 10:27 AM

MNF for Chiefs -9/29/2014, 10:27 AM

Royals' starters rest in win -9/29/2014, 10:26 AM

KU shows Weis the door -9/29/2014, 10:26 AM

Jayhawks take the conservative route in their loss to Texas -9/28/2014, 9:43 AM

FHSU soccer cruises past SW Baptist -9/28/2014, 7:03 PM

Victoria takes advantage for close win at Ness -9/28/2014, 1:14 AM

Plainville grabs first win, beats TMP -9/28/2014, 7:02 PM

Area prep football roundup: Otis-Bison, Kinsley set record -9/28/2014, 7:02 PM

Wildcats roll -9/28/2014, 7:02 PM

Delton, HHS run past Garden City -9/28/2014, 7:02 PM

Tiger women's soccer picks up 1-0 win at Southern -9/28/2014, 7:02 PM

Tiger women's XC wins at Emporia State -9/27/2014, 7:12 PM

Kansas City clinches first playoff berth since 1985 -9/27/2014, 7:02 PM

Tigers take down No. 8 Pitt State -9/27/2014, 6:53 PM

Kansas linebacker Jake Love lives on instincts -9/26/2014, 11:06 AM

Like old times, Kansas State takes pride in stuffing the run -9/26/2014, 10:57 AM

FHSU women fall 2-1 -9/26/2014, 10:23 AM

Big win for Tiger soccer -9/26/2014, 10:46 AM

Tough test for Tiger football -9/26/2014, 10:23 AM

Hays High, TMP move to 4A -9/26/2014, 10:24 AM

One more win and Royals are in -9/26/2014, 10:47 AM

HHS XC second at McPherson meet -9/26/2014, 10:25 AM

Indian soccer snaps skid -9/26/2014, 10:47 AM

HHS golf clinches share of WAC title -9/26/2014, 10:48 AM

Monarchs, Cardinals seek first win -9/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Royals drop game at Cleveland -9/25/2014, 10:26 AM

UTEP football coach Sean Kugler hopes to build a program that can emulate Kansas State -9/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Indians hit the road -9/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Giants, Redskins trying to avoid steeper climb in East -9/25/2014, 10:13 AM

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Atwood 76, St. Francis 65

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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
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Healthy for Tigers, Napier enjoys strong start

Published on -12/2/2012, 8:05 PM

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By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Fort Hays State University 141-pound junior C.J. Napier has taken a long path to the Tiger wrestling program. Finally healthy and loving the sport again, Napier collected MIAA Wrestler of the Week honors after he won the Elite Division at the University of Nebraska-Kearney Open. Coach Chas Thompson calls Napier among the Tigers' top three or four most talented wrestlers.

"C.J. is very technical," Thompson said. "He is very good on his feet. We are working on getting better on the mat, but he is extremely talented at taking guys down. If anybody goes and watches him wrestle, check him out on his feet.

"Very powerful," Thompson added. "If you look at the lower portion of his body, he is built pretty well altogether, but his lower trunk is pretty muscular. He is a strong guy. He can take guys down pretty easily. He makes good wrestlers look not very good on their feet."

Last season, Napier reached the NCAA tournament, but competed with a broken hand and went 1-2. Napier and the Tigers competed Saturday at the FHSU Bob Smith Open at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Napier's second competition.

"Last season ended horribly and I have been working real hard this summer and preseason and want to be on top at the end of this year," Napier said.

Napier grew up in Columbus and went 143-9 in high school with three state championships. In the summer, he also won a prestigious Cadet Freestyle national championship at 135 pounds. Thompson, from Parsons, has known the Napier family for many years. He tried to recruit Napier out of high school, but NCAA Division I schools were higher on Napier's list. Napier verbally committed to Oklahoma State University, but eventually went to Nebraska.

He started as a freshman at 133 pounds and posted a solid 16-15 record. However, Napier had trouble with losing more in one season than he did in the previous several years combined.

"Losing that much in one year was really rough on me," Napier said. "I didn't handle it very well."

Napier transferred to Labette Community College and planned to attend Pittsburg State University and not wrestle.

"It was a shock to his system, going there as a freshman and being thrown in there," Thompson said. "He wasn't probably ready for that maturity-wise, but it was one of those deals where Nebraska needed him."

During the spring of 2011, Napier started to miss wrestling and wanted to return to the sport. Several schools called Thompson drove down to Pittsburg and met with Napier. Thompson didn't want to rush Napier back into the sport and told the wrestler "to take as much time as he needed." In the summer of 2011, Napier was working a camp at FHSU. The camp marked the first time Napier had been to the campus. He committed that summer and has enjoyed Thompson.

"It's very cool," Napier said. "Me and coach have a great relationship. We are really close. I am very open and honest with him. I have never hid anything. I feel like I can go and tell him anything. I go to him when I have problems. He is the first person that I go to. It's great. I love wrestling for coach."

Napier finished 14-5 last season, but fell short at nationals. Napier hurt his hand one day in practice.

"I just wrestled on it the whole year," he said. "I didn't really want to know what was wrong with it until wrestling was over."

Napier and Thompson knew Napier couldn't grip very well, but thought it may have just been ligament damage. Instead, Napier discovered later that he broken a bone. This season, a healthy Napier has started strong and could enjoy a big year.

"He looked awesome at Kearney," Thompson said. "...I don't want to make excuses for last year, but his hand is healthy now. That's attributing to how well he is wrestling now."

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