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Monarchs ailing before regional

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

Thomas More Prep-Marian's shot of sending wrestlers to the Class 3-2-1A state championship took a couple significant hits the past three weeks.

On Jan. 28, senior Austin Werth broke his thumb, and on Friday, senior Lucas Walker hurt his knee. Because of those injuries, Werth and Walker, two of TMP's top wrestlers, likely will not wrestle Friday and Saturday at the Class 3-2-1A regional meet at Norton.

The top-four placers at the regional in each weight class will qualify for state the next weekend in Hays.

"We'll go to battle with the guys we have," said first-year head coach Josh Peterson. "... Shoot, if we had one guy left on the team, we'd be going to regionals."

Werth broke his thumb in warm ups at practice one day, and Walker agitated his knee in the dual against Ellis on Thursday. Then Walker hurt his knee further at practice the next day wrestling his twin, Jon.

Lucas said it bothered him all weekend, and on Wednesday, he said he could barely walk.

For Walker, it was especially disappointing. He hurt his meniscus and missed the regional his junior year, too.

"It's a repeat of last year," he said.

Unfortunately for TMP, injuries aren't the only thing standing in their way to the state meet. The Monarchs' regional is by far the toughest in the state.

The regional features 44 percent of Class 3-2-1A's ranked wrestlers. Every weight class has at least one ranked wrestler, and several classes have four of the top-six ranked wrestlers in the state.

In comparison, the regional at Fredonia has five weight classes with no ranked wrestlers.

"It's very unlucky (to be at the Norton regional), but you know if you make it through your regionals, 'Hey I've got a good shot of placing at state,' " Peterson said. "That goes for anybody who makes it out of our regionals."

Still, Peterson said he hopes they'll be able to get a couple out of the regional.

The Monarchs will feature freshman Ricky Hockett at 120 pounds, senior Jon Walker at 138 pounds, freshman Jacob Roth at 145 pounds, junior Jared Gabel at 152 pounds, junior Justin Raynesford at 170 pounds, junior Nick Schumacher at 220 pounds and junior Mason Lagree at 285 pounds.

"We are going to have to peak at the right time," Peterson said. "Hopefully, we are at that peaking moment."

Jon Walker might be one of TMP's best shots at making state.

However, he admitted he is disappointed he didn't drop more weight. Jon is TMP's lone team member who has made it to state, making it as a freshman at 103 pounds.

At 138 pounds, Jon Walker, who is below .500, said he is undersized and it's hurt him.

However, his weight class only features two ranked wrestlers, which could give him an opportunity to qualify.

"I think if I go hard, I am definitely capable of making state still," Jon Walker said.