On a tough day overall for area wrestling, Oakley’s Morgan Rains made sure area schools wouldn’t go without representation in the Bob Kuhn Prairie Classic finals at Hays High.
After finishing fourth last year in the tournament at 160 pounds, Rains advanced to the 170-pound final on Friday and will face McPherson’s Jonah Clarke for the championship today.
“I knew I had a good shot at placing higher this year and hopefully make it to the finals, which was my goal,” Rains said. “Now my goal is to win first.”
The senior received a first-round bye before pinning Phillipsburg’s Jeremiah Minkler in the quarterfinals and grinding out a 2-1 decision over Lakin’s Kayden Christiansen in the semifinals.
“My first match was kind of rough because I had to wait for a little bit, but I got into a rhythm and I got it done,” Rains said. “Second match, I was kind of anticipating it because I had wrestled the kid before and I knew I beat him. I knew he was going to be coming at me with some extra stuff.
You’re wrestling tougher kids (in the semifinals) and you know you got to push that extra minute or so just to get things done.”
Rains entered the tournament 17-2 on the season and ranked No. 2 in Class 3-2-1A behind Riley County’s Michael Waggoner.
“I’m pretty close. I want to get the No. 1 seed,” Rains said. “Riley County didn’t show up this year and I was hoping to get a shot at (Waggoner) for the No. 1 seed.”
Rains said he will have his work cut out for him against McPherson’s Clarke, who advanced to the finals with a 5-4 win over Hoisington’s Joshua Ball.
“He’s good. He’s good on his feet,” Rains said of Clarke. “He’s really good on top, so I’ve got to get off the bottom and can’t just sit there.”
Hays High sent two to the semifinals with 140-pounder Kyle Casper and Kreighton Meyers at 160 pounds.
“All in all, I thought we wrestled OK,” Hays High coach John Hafliger said of his team’s overall performance on Friday. “I thought we had a really good first round. I thought our kids wrestled real tough. I thought we were competitive in the quarters. We were ahead in some matches and ended up getting beat in the quarters.”
Casper earned pins over Phillipsburg’s Kevin Russell and Garden City’s Jaden Escamilla before taking a 10-2 decision loss to Buhler’s Nick Elliott in the semifinals.
“Kyle has been wrestling really well for us,” Hafliger said. “He’s extremely tough on top and he’s getting better on his feet. He ran into a tough guy in the semis and I thought we wrestled him pretty well. Even late, we were trying to score.”
Meyers opened with a quick pin of Ellis’ Cale Younger and got a late pin over Hugoton’s Carter Cozier before Pratt’s Jadon Koehler edged out Meyers 4-2 in sudden victory.
“He wrestled him earlier in the year and I thought he handled us pretty well,” Hafliger said. “I thought we came out with a whole different attitude to wrestle the Pratt kid in the semis. I thought Kreighton wrestled tough. Tough match, tough loss against a tough kid. I thought he was really competitive and I’m proud of Kreighton for his efforts.”
The Indians entered the tournament shorthanded, with a couple key wrestlers out with injuries.
“We still have some missing pieces,” Hafliger said. “We still haven’t gotten back Gavin Meyers yet and then just a couple weeks ago we lost Cole Schroeder. Those are two good varsity guys that aren’t in our lineup yet and we’re hoping we’ll get them back before regionals and state."