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Hays High sending four to 5A state finale

By KLINT SPILLER
kspiller@dailynews.net

Hays High School wrestling coach John Hafliger said he was disappointed the Indians didn’t get more qualified out of their Class 5A regional tournament, but the four they did send are “high-quality wrestlers.”

The Indians qualified junior Preston Weigel (38-0), a three-year qualifier ranked No. 1 at 195 pounds in Class 5A; senior Kyler

Meyers (35-7), a four-year qualifier ranked No. 6 at 170 pounds; 152-pound senior Leroy Franco (20-11), a four-year qualifier; and 145-pound senior Jake Sedbrook (26-12), a three-year varsity wrestler making his first trip to the state tournament.

Hafliger said their trip should be an inspiration to aspiring wrestlers.

“They are the hardest working guys that we have in the room,” he said. “That’s what I want my young guys to see: the hard work does pay off.”

Of course, he would have liked more to qualify. Several wrestlers came close, but fell short of their goals at the regional in Great Bend.

Senior Cade Albert, a 15-14 138-pounder, was one round short of making state, and 160-pound senior Clay Drylie (15-15) also was one round short after losing two matches to ranked wrestlers by 4-2 decisions.

Junior Vincent Scott (28-11 at 285 pounds) might have had the most disappointing regional.

In a six-wrestler bracket, Scott had a bye in the first round, so he only had to win one match on either the front or back of the bracket to make it to state. Instead, he went 0-2, which included a 5-4 double overtime loss to Jacob Crane of Great Bend.

“There were some heartbreakers like that that cost us getting in,” Hafliger said.

However, the Indians who qualified were more concerned about the future.

At the beginning of the season, the team decided they wanted to try and not only qualify for the state tournament; they wanted to place.

Meyers and Weigel are proven commodities on that level.

Meyers placed fifth as a sophomore and sixth as a junior, and Weigel was a state runner-up as a freshman and state champion as a sophomore.

However, Franco and Sedbrook are less proven.

Despite making it to state the three previous years, Franco has never registered a win at the state meet — a trend he hopes to break as a senior.

“It’s a lot of pressure,” Franco said. “These last couple of years haven’t been as bad, but I’m a senior this year. There’s a lot of pressure to move forward this year.”

Franco dealt with some neck and shoulder issues late in the season, making him miss some matches, but Hafliger said he’s fine now.

“He is wrestling well right now,” Hafliger said. “He is really coming around. He wants to do well.”

Hafliger said this could be Franco’s year to break his streak since he got a fortunate break on the bracket.

His first round opponent is freshman Mason Ray, an unranked 8-3 wrestler from Topeka Seaman, and if Franco won, the next round could feature No. 5-ranked senior Matt McWhorter (19-4)  of Overland Park-Blue Valley Southwest.

“He is sitting probably the best he’s ever sat on the state bracket,” Hafliger said. “He still has to go take care of business, but I feel like he is in a great position to get himself in the medals.”

Sedbrook might have a rougher road. He will face No. 2-ranked senior Reis Humphrey (31-2) of Shawnee Mission South in the first round.

Meyers said his goal is to make the state finals, but admitted it would be difficult, considering the top two ranked wrestlers are on his half of the bracket.

If Meyers gets past first-round opponent Bryson Teufel (21-20) of Ark City, he likely will face Topeka Seaman senior Bryant Guillen (40-0), ranked No. 1 in 5A. Saint James Academy junior Trent Salsbury (41-10), ranked No. 2, would face Meyers in the semifinals — if the two made it that far.

“I got a tough front side. I have the No. 1 kid in the second round, so if I don’t do that, I want to take third on the back side,” Meyers said.

Weigel, the state favorite at 195 pounds, will face junior Austin McBee (26-16) of Overland Park Blue Valley Southwest in the first round.

“Some of them may have got better draws at state than others, but I think they all have a legitimate shot to get themselves in position to get a medal,” Hafliger said.