Finals set for Bob Kuhn Classic By CONOR NICHOLL

Hays High School wrestling coach John Hafliger challenged his Indians after Thursday’s 42-36 home dual loss to Spring Hill. Hafliger listed off several areas HHS needed to improve on for this weekend’s annual Bob Kuhn Senior Prairie Classic. He told the team it needed to work on getting low, being more aggressive and coming out with more intensity.

On Friday, the Indians had a strong Day 1 of competition in the 25-team, two-day tournament.

“I felt like overnight, we raised our level,” Hafliger said. “We wrestled better today than maybe we have wrestled in weeks, so I felt real good with how our kids wrestled today.”

The competition featured around 250 wrestlers and finished approximately 11:30 p.m. after eight-plus hours of competition.

“What really caught me, was in the quarterfinals, there was probably some of the best matches in the quarterfinals that I have seen,” Hafliger said. “I don’t know that I saw maybe more than a couple of pins out of all the quarterfinal matches. Usually, you have some weaker matches and kids get pinned. In fact, I saw more pins in the semis than I saw in the quarters. That quarterfinals was just brutal. I think the kids are just tougher. I think they are more evenly matched than what they have been. I think the matches are just going longer.”

HHS has two in the finals with senior 195-pounder Preston Weigel, ranked No. 1 in all of Kansas, and senior 285-pounder Vincent Scott. Weigel has won three straight Classic crowns, while Scott lost in the finals to Haysville-Campus’ Tyler Bastian in overtime last season. Scott defeated Bastion in a tournament championship in overtime at the season-opening Campus tournament. The pair will meet again Saturday night at Hays High.

Arguably the day’s biggest upset came when Russell junior Dalton Brand beat Hays High junior Ethan Deterding in the championship quarterfinals at 182 pounds. Deterding was previously unbeaten.

“Ethan just didn’t have a good match,” Hafliger said. “Just didn’t look like the Ethan that we had seen all year long. I don’t know what it was. I know him well enough that he will bounce back, and he will come back tomorrow kind of with something to prove to everybody.”

On Thursday, Hays High normally duals Thomas More Prep-Marian, a matchup that both squads enjoy. Usually, Spring Hill, coached by HHS alum Tucker Woofter, duals Phillipsburg.

This year, the Monarchs have low numbers and had a couple of kids who couldn’t compete because of other school activities. Hafliger said TMP called Hays High this week and asked if the Indians still wanted to dual.

“Our kids kind of had their hearts set on wrestling TMP,” Hafliger said. “It’s kind of the tradition that we had going, but they are struggling with some numbers right now. It was much better in the long run for us to wrestle a team like Spring Hill and get more matches in.”

Hafliger called Woofter and Spring Hill decided to double dual HHS and Phillipsburg.

“You can always count on Coach Woofter’s team wrestling hard and going hard,” Hafliger said. “Those kids – he has done a great job with that program. It was a fun dual. I really enjoyed it. I thought we needed to step up and give more effort and wrestle with a little bit more intensity. I think that was part of our downfall.”

Hays High and Phillipsburg had met earlier the season in the Colby duals and decided to not dual again. HHS trailed by three entering the final match and Scott lost by decision in overtime.

“Where we had some weaker wrestlers, they really took advantage of us in those spots, and went out and got the six points and pinned us,” Hafliger said. “That makes it difficult.

“It’s anybody’s match basically going into the last one,” he added. “We are down by three points. We get a win, we tie. We get a major, we win by a point. … It was a wakeup coming in for today that hey, we’ve got to bring up our intensity, and we did that.”

Finals matches

Set to start at 5 p.m.

106 – Andrew Egan, Kapaun-Mt. Carmel vs. Tate Withington, Goodland

113 – Ty Nienke, Ellsworth vs. Greg Bentley, Campus

120 – Parker Howell, Kapaun-Mt. Carmel vs. Dalton Hensley, Ellis

126 – Reagan Nguyen, Maize South vs. Pedro Ordonez, Hugoton

132 – Brandon Ball, Hoisington vs. Brandon Dofat, Spring Hill

138 – Jonathan Ball, Hoisington vs. Kevin Kissane, Maize South

145 – Michael Dusin, Phillipsburg vs. Isaiah Kamps, Maize South

152 – Luke Henes, St. Thomas Aquinas vs. Scott Whitson, Buhler

160 – John Peden, Goodland vs. Dalton Peters, Salina Central

170 – Colton Cooper, Goodland vs. Blake Hampton, Spring Hill

182 – Gavin Grater, Riley County vs. Dalton Brand, Russell

195 – Preston Weigel, Hays High vs. Avery Urban, Hoisington

220 – Ben Ewing, St. Thomas Aquinas vs. Otto Orosco, Ulysses

285 – Tyler Bastian, Campus vs. Vincent Scott, Hays High