Russell High School’s top two wrestlers, Chase Prester and Kelton Suchy, came up two points shy of taking home a pair of individual titles Saturday at the Bob Kuhn Prairie Classic at Hays High, and they have each other to thank for their strong showing.
That’s because Prester, a 152-pounder, and Suchy (160) grew up together and started wrestling at the same age. Now, they use their similar sizes to push each other in practice. They’re good friends, but things can get intense in the weight room, according to their coach, Roger Sells. Bloody noses and black eyes are not uncommon, Prester said, but the group always leaves the room as tight as they were when they walked in.
Their slight physical differences help prepare each of the Bronco seniors for outside competition.
“He’s lighter, but he’s faster than mostly anybody I’ve wrestled,” Suchy said. “It makes me better since he’s fast. And I’m heavier than him and stronger than some of his (opponents), so it helps him in ways too.”
Prester earned the Broncos’ only championship on Saturday, beating St. Francis senior Clay De Waal in an 11-3 major decision.
Prester had De Waal walking on his hands before using a freestyle step over to earn three near-fall points that blew the match open in the second period.
“I’ve never wrestled in a championship here,” Prester said. “So, the adrenaline was pumping like crazy. Once I stepped out on the mat, I don’t know, something took over and I just had a blast doing it.”
At the conclusion of the meet, Prester was named the outstanding wrestler. He entered the tournament undefeated and headed east on I-70 on Saturday with a 30-0 record.
“Chase has got a full gas tank,” Sells said. He could go six periods, and that makes a big difference. That’s something we take pride in, our shape.”
That endurance served him well in his stiffest test of the tournament. That came in the quarterfinals when he needed double overtime to earn an 8-4 decision against Hays High’s Austin Dale.
Suchy came up just short of capturing the team’s second championship, dropping a 5-4 decision to Goodland’s Tanner Gastineau. A missed opportunity was all that stood in the way of pair going 2 for 2 Saturday night.
“The difference was the takedown he should’ve, could’ve had,” Sells said. “That would’ve been the match.”
The Russell senior agreed with his coach’s assessment.
“He was a little longer,” Suchy said. “I didn’t get my takedown at first or else I probably would’ve won it.”
Suchy began action Friday with a 22-6 record. He too needed double overtime to reach the finals, as he beat Hoisington’s Sean Urban 2-1 in the semifinals.
Despite missing out on matching gold medals, the Russell seniors now have their sights set on strong showings at regionals and the state tournament. As usual, the duo will help one another get there and enjoy the process in the meantime.
“He’s pushed me to be what I’ve been, and I’ve pushed him,” Prester said. “It’s awesome helping each other.”
Russell finished with 65 points and took 12th in the tournament.
“I’d say they made Russell proud,” Sells said. “They had a good showing tonight. Both matches were awesome. Both had action, which some of the earlier matches didn’t.”
Haysville Campus won the team title with 167.5 points with two individual champions — Boo Dryden (113) and Greg Bentley (126) — and a second-place finish.
Goodland placed second, 11 points back. Gastineau and undefeated 120-pounder Tate Withington took first place for the Cowboys.
Oakley finished as the second best area team at the tournament. The Plainsmen scored 83 points and took eighth. Sophomore Chris Cox was the team’s top performer, placing second at 220 pounds. Wyatt Murphy (145) and Macoy Rains (182) each took third for the Plainsmen with Estin Slack (113) placing fourth.
Trego (49.5), Phillipsburg (48.0), Thomas More Prep-Marian (48), Ellis (45.5) and Hays High (42) stacked the standings from 14th to 19th, respectively, in the 24-team tournament.
TMP’s Tucker Rhoades is lone individual champion of the group. Ellis’s Dalton Hensley (145) was the only other area athlete to qualify for the championship round. He dropped a 5-3 decision to Hoisington’s Christopher Ball in the finals.
Trego was led by senior Corbin Schoenthaler, who placed fourth at 152 pounds.
Junior Mark Coomes (160) and senior Donovan Lumpkin (285) led Phillipsburg, earning fourth and fifth place, respectively.
Juniors Conrad Vajnar and Austin Dale (152) led the host Indians. Vajnar took fourth place at 145 pounds, while Austin Dale placed fifth at 152 with a 7-5 decision over Kapaun Mount Carmel’s Sam Wilson.
St. Francis scored 29.5 points and finished in 22nd despite entering just four wrestlers. Garrett Brunk placed sixth at 145, while De Waal finished second to Prester.