3-2-1A preview -- Pair of first-timers for TMP
By NICK McQUEEN
After a one-year hiatus from the Class 3-2-1A state wrestling tournament, the Thomas More Prep-Marian High School wrestling team has a pair of wrestlers looking to make their own name in the field.
Monarch freshman Tucker Rhoades and sophomore Ricky Hockett qualified third and fourth in their respective weight classes at last week's 3-2-1A regional in WaKeeney.
"They're feeling really good," Monarch coach Josh Peterson said of his duo after their second day of practice this week. "They're confidence and wrestling well."
Rhoades (30-7 at 113 pounds) is ranked No. 6 at 113. He will face No. 4 ranked freshman Dalton Dultmeier of Silver Lake in Friday's first round at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
"He will succeed," Peterson of Rhoades, who defeated Smith Center freshman Dalton Oliver at last week's regional for third. "He has that dedication and determination to be one of the elite wrestlers."
Rhoades' first match in an anticipated freshman season came against Ellsworth senior Ty Nienke, the top-ranked wrestler at 113, who is 33-0 heading to state this week.
Rhoades has also wrestled Norton senior Branson Addington, the No. 2 ranked wrestler, three times. He beat him once.
The potential is there, if things go right, for Rhoades to wrestle for a title.
"I believe he possibly could," Peterson said. "He has the technique. He has the dedication. He's trained well and has had a good week of practice.
"This is going to be an exciting weekend," Peterson added.
Hockett also is a first-time qualifier. He finished fourth at 120 pounds last week after he fell to unbeaten Hoxie freshman Tristan Porsch in the semifinals, then lost to Smtih Center freshman David Hileman in the consolation final.
"He won the matches he absolutely needed to," Peterson said of Hockett. "Most of the time coming out of the regional and finishing fourth, you have a pretty good chance to be a state placer."
Hockett is 24-11 and will face Fredonia senior Sam Aylor, the No. 5 ranked wrestler in 3-2-1A, in the first round.
The Ellis Railroaders also have a a trio of first-time qualifiers. Freshman Dalton Hensley is 27-6 at 120 pounds. Hensley, the No. 3 ranked wrestler, finished second behind Porsch in the Trego regional as he suffered a 10-5 decision to the undefeated Hoxie standout. Hensley will face Caney Valley freshman Dakota Morrill (23-11) in the first round.
Junior Jared Pfeifer (7-1 at 160) finished third at the regional when he defeated Oberlin freshman Tabor Erickson. Pfeifer will face Marion senior Luke Steele (31-8) in the first round. A win would likely pit Pfeifer against undefeated Beloit senior Bowe Behymer in the second round.
Senior Skyler Tebo also qualified for the first time at 220 pounds. Tebo was fourth at the Trego regional after falling to Phillipsburg's Luke Jacobs in the semifinals, then losing to Oakley's Dylan Gassmann for third.
Tebo will face No. 3 ranked Kyle Palic, a junior from Marion, in Friday's first round.