Top stories 2012: Area wrestlers among best in state
By CONOR NICHOLL
Hays High School's Preston Weigel and Ellis' Riley Hunsicker accomplished feats rarely witnessed in their school's wrestling history. Thomas More Prep-Marian's Dylan Schumacher collected an accomplishment few in Kansas annals have achieved.
After he finished as state runner-up as a freshman, Weigel won a Class 5A state title at 170 pounds for the Indians last winter and completed a 39-1 season. Hunsicker upset Wellsville's Jesse LeMay and won the Class 3-2-1A crown at 170 pounds, the fourth Railer in school history to accomplish the feat.
Schumacher, who overcame a knee injury that cost him part of the year, collected his fourth straight title, the fifth Class 3-2-1A wrestler in state history to accomplish the feat. Schumacher's, and Ellis County's wrestling success, is one of The Hays Daily News' top stories of 2012.
"No more huge pressure on my head anymore," Schumacher said after his title. "I can breathe a sigh of relief now. Feels really good. I am going to enjoy it, trust me. It doesn't get much better than this, winning four times. It doesn't happen very often."
He joined St. Francis' Bill Gabel (1993-96), Hoxie's Mat Gilliland (2001-04), Norton's Clay Madden (2003-06) and Smith Center's Colt Rogers (2007-10) as the lone four-time winners in 3-2-1A. Schumacher, a University of Wyoming signee, finished 29-3 last season and 133-6 in his career.
"The thing that sets those guys apart is that when it comes down to crunch time, they are not the guys that waver away," then-Monarch coach Mike Howell said. "They are the type of guys that kind of squint their eyes a little bit and they are ready for that pressure and they bear down."
As a freshman, Weigel lost to Andover Central's Alex Bontz in the state finale. However, he delivered a 16-0 victory against Goddard's Manny Capps last winter.
Weigel titled Capps early and often and ended the match with just under 10 seconds left in the first period. Weigel was the first Indian to win a state championship since Jesse Fleenor won at 125 pounds in 2000.
Weigel is now first and second on Hays High's all-time wrestling list for falls/technical falls. He collected 28 in 2011 and 29 last year. Before 2011, no Indian had recorded more than 22 since 1989.
"This is very satisfying, I've worked my butt off to get back here to win," Weigel said afterward. "I just was able to get the quick takedown and then started working on the tilts. ... We've worked on that move so much all year, it was working so I just stayed with it. If that hadn't worked, I'd have gone to something else."
Hunsicker had enjoyed a strong career, but had never won a big tournament of any kind at any level before the 2012 regional tournament. He had finished second at state as a freshman and placed as a junior at the state meet. Hunsicker joined Ryan Honas (two seconds, one first in 2002-04) and current Ellis assistant coach Brandon Pfeifer (three seconds from 1996-98) as the lone Railers to earn three state medals. LeMay was considered the favorite, but Hunsicker never trailed and earned the win.
"I just wrestled the perfect match," he said. "I came out and I wasn't intimidated or anything. Came out and got the first takedown. I heard if you get the first takedown, you have an 80 percent chance of winning."
Also in the area, Hoxie's Calvin Ochs won his first state championship after he won at 138 pounds. Ochs had been second as a freshman and sophomore. Hoxie finished third as a team behind Scott City and Hoisington. Oakley's Eric Albers was the area's lone undefeated wrestler when he went 35-0 and won the crown at 160 pounds.