Ellis part of solid regional in WaKeeney
By CONOR NICHOLL
ELLIS -- Ellis High School's 152-pounder Landon Younger and 220-pounder Skyler Tebo have enjoyed solid wrestling careers. But Younger and Tebo have never made a Class 3-2-1A state field.
This week, coach Casey Dinkel said the pair "has been really quiet" in preparing for their final regional meet, which takes place Friday and Saturday at WaKeeney-Trego Community. Top four in each weight class advance to state next week at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
"They know what's at stake, and they know what they have to do, and where they have to get to," Dinkel said. "They have had some losses this year that they didn't like, and they are not happy with. To me, that's good for them, because they understand that you are going to have losses, but what are you going to do about it, and how are you are going to wrestle? They know their brackets. They know who they are going to have to beat."
Tebo and Younger are two of several Ellis wrestlers who remain on the bubble entering regional. No current Railroader has competed at a state tournament. Dinkel called this season "by far" Tebo's best year.
"They have been pretty positive," Dinkel said. "They know that they are going to have to wrestle some good matches. They set themselves up pretty good this year and got a pretty good record."
Freshman Dalton Hensley is ranked No. 3 at 120 pounds and Ellis' only ranked wrestler.
"He is a hard worker," Dinkel said. "In practice, he is always going at it. He is always going to be 100 percent every time. His attitude is awesome."
Freshman Trayton Kroeger has an opportunity at 106 pounds, junior Brandon Groff is in the mix at 182 pounds and junior Jared Pfeifer will move from 145 to 160 pounds. The 145 class has four ranked wrestlers.
Dinkel has never had someone move up two weight classes in the last two weeks before regionals, though Riley Hunsicker moved up one class two years ago and won a state crown. Dinkel said Pfeifer will weigh in the mid to upper 150s by regional.
"He is still young," Dinkel said. "I think it would be best for him just to get out there and wrestle new kids in a different weight. That will give him the best opportunity -- at that weight. Not to wrestle the kids over and over again. If you make simple mistakes and things like that, they can catch you if you have wrestled them more than once."
Tebo is 26-9, Younger and Hensley are both 24-5, Pfeifer is 3-0 at 160, Groff is 17-13, Kroeger stands at 13-12 and sophomore Kobe Armbruster is 10-9 at 132 pounds.
Dinkel expects Younger to be the fourth or fifth seed in a regional that includes Smith Center's Clint Rogers and Oberlin's Chris Anderson, ranked No. 2 and No. 6, respectively. Younger took third earlier this season at the Bob Kuhn Senior Prairie Classic.
"Hopefully he understands, and he is ready to step up and get to that next level," Dinkel said.
Based on results, Tebo, also an accomplished lineman and all-state golfer, should be the third or fourth wrestler this weekend behind Phillipsburg's Luke Jacobs and Norton's Jacob Green.
Tebo finished third behind them at the Western Kansas Classic on Feb. 1, one of the largest western Kansas tournaments. Oakley's Dylan Gassmann has defeated Tebo, but has missed some of the year with health and injury issues. At the Panther Classic on Feb. 8, Tebo took third with his lone loss to Jacobs.
"He has had some matches," Dinkel said. "He knows what he has to do this year, and this week. This whole wrestling season, he has been a little bit more aggressive, and I guess wrestled a little smarter. Just more matches under his belt has really helped him out."