Goodland wins Bob Kuhn Classic
By CONOR NICHOLL
Goodland High School 160-pound senior John Peden knew the team standings of the Bob Kuhn Prairie Senior Classic were close entering his championship match. Just before he went on the mat, Peden looked up at the big scoreboard in one corner of Hays High School's gym.
He saw Goodland with 185.5 points, one point behind Wichita/Kapaun-Mt. Carmel. KMC didn't have any wrestlers left, while Goodland had Peden and his longtime good friend, 170-pound senior Colton Cooper.
Peden trailed Salina Central sophomore Dalton Peters 3-2, but delivered a takedown with 21 seconds remaining for a 4-3 victory.
The title made history for the Cowboys' wrestling program.
"Once I won, I kind of realized that I captured it for us," Peden said. "That was the first thing our coach said to us. He said I wrestled a good match, but that I captured the first Bob Kuhn Senior Prairie Classic team championship. I felt pretty good about myself after that."
Cooper delivered a 1-0 victory in his match and gave Goodland a final margin of 193.5 points, seven ahead of KMC. Spring Hill was third with 125 points.
Phillipsburg took fifth with 115.5 points, 1.5 points ahead of Hoisington. Both the Panthers and Cardinals are likely contenders for a top-two finish at 3-2-1A state next month.
"We have great coaches that push us everyday to make us our best," said Phillipsburg senior Michael Dusin, the champion at 152 pounds.
HHS was seventh with 107.5 points. Senior Preston Weigel, ranked No. 1 in all of Kansas, rolled through the 195-pound bracket, won the final technical fall, for his fourth career Classic crown and collected Outstanding Wrestler honors.
"A lot of hard work on my tilts for sure," Weigel said. "Growing up, my dad said that was going to be the main thing for high school, so I started young and worked on my tilts and now they are pretty hard to stop."
HHS senior Vincent Scott also reached the 285-pound final, but lost 3-2 in the championship. Scott fell to Haysville-Campus' Tyler Bastian in the title last year, too. Indian coach John Hafliger said Scott has changed his "whole attitude and demeanor" this season, stays after practice and works with Weigel and 182-pounder Ethan Deterding.
"He comes in and works hard in practice, whereas last year, there was a lot of times that he would kind of look to take the easy way out," Hafliger said. "...I am glad to see him have that success. It's fun to see kids like that have success."
Weigel, recruited by multiple NCAA Division I schools, including University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and University of Northern Iowa, isn't in a rush to choose a college or sport. Also an all-state running back, Weigel has received some football interest. The senior said he would do one sport in college, likely wrestling, but won't make any choices quickly.
"I will commit one way or the other," Weigel said. "Hopefully, the Good Lord just puts me in a place and sets me in the right direction."
Currently, Weigel and the coaching staff fine-tune several areas. Weigel is strong in the top position, and the coaches work with him on bottom. At times, Hafliger notices Weigel is hesitant on his takedowns.
"If you look back to where he was at last year, he is quite a bit more tentative," Hafliger said. "He is finally starting to open it up."
Weigel often drills with HHS assistants that are smaller and quick. He went 4-0 this weekend, the first three by fall, all in under three minutes.
Peden (25-0) and Cooper (7-0) wear opponents down with a style developed for more than a decade; Cooper said he has known Peden since he was one. Peden took sixth at state last season, Cooper second.
The two attended the same day care growing up and wrestled in Kansas kids' club.
"That is just a little bit of a Goodland thing, just being tougher and having more heart than the other opponent," Cooper said. "Just grinding on them the whole time and not letting them catch a break."
In the first week of practice, Cooper and Peden wrestled in practice when Cooper fell awkwardly, hit his shoulder off the wall and separated his sternum.
When it first happened, Cooper thought he injured his collarbone and would miss six weeks. However, the sternum took a long time to heal, and Cooper didn't compete in a match until after Christmas. Now, he feels 100 percent -- and it led to a team crown.