Ellis High School wrestling coach Brandon Pfeifer wasn’t sure how Bryce Younger was going to respond with being the only senior in the room this season
Boasting a ton of big-tournament experience, Younger all season was in room full of newbies to the program.
His response, Pfeifer said, was more than he could have asked for.
“He’s handled it really well,” the coach said. “His work ethic has probably been as good as I’ve seen out of him all four years.”
That’s set the senior up for one final run at the Class 3-2-1A state wrestling tournament this weekend at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
And Younger certainly is no stranger to what it takes to have success at that level. In three tries, the senior has three medals. He was runner-up as a freshman and sophomore, then had a somewhat rough finish last season after suffering a quarterfinal loss to Silver Lake’s Jordan Priddy. Younger ended up fifth, ending his tournament with a win.
“I don’t call it disappointment,” Pfeifer said of Younger’s attitude toward the finish a season ago. “He’s wanting to finish a mission.
“It’s one of those things where we’re down to one opportunity, so the motivation is there to end this last year the right way.”
Younger enters the 126-pound field with a 33-4 mark and was third in last week’s Goodland regional. He lost in the semifinals to Oberlin’s Kel Grafel, before earning two pins to make it back to Hays.
“We’ve got to wrestle one match at a time,” Pfeifer said. “There’s some good kids in that bracket, and it’s going to be a fun bracket to watch.
“Really, there are five or six kids there that all are good enough to win that thing.”
Younger is joined by a pair of freshmen for the Railers, each of whom finished fourth at last week’s regional. While they are there for their own experiences, Pfeifer said, it’s also a plus that Younger isn’t going into his final tournament as the lone Railer.
“It’s hard (when they’re alone) to keep their stress and emotions down,” Pfeifer said.
Sam Pyle is 20-14 in his first year with the Railers, while Konnor Pfeifer, the coach’s son, is 30-13 at 138.
“Those freshmen probably had the tournament of their lives (so far),” Coach Pfeifer said of last week’s regional.