After battling injuries for a good chunk of the season and competing in a tough regional, punching six tickets to state felt like a pretty good accomplishment for the Hays High wrestling team.
But the Indians aren’t satisfied and will be looking to make some noise in the Class 5A state tournament this weekend at Hartman Arena in Park City.
“A lot of them had goals to qualify for the state tournament, and that’s a great goal to have, but now we talk about how you’ve got to reset your goal,” Hays High coach John Hafliger said. “You want to be a state placer. You want to be top six in the state. You want to win matches at the tournament.
“The atmosphere is fun, it’s great. It’s not an opportunity that you get every day or very often in your life to wrestle in that kind of environment. Enjoy it, but don’t get so wrapped up in it that you lose your focus. It’s still just a wrestling match.”
The Indians will be sending four seniors (Kreighton Meyers, Cole Schroeder, Logan Schulte and Chase Voth) and two freshmen (Gavin Nutting and Gavin Meyers).
Kreighton Meyers (160 pounds) will be making his second straight trip to state, entering the tournament at 30-12 after placing fourth in the regional in Arkansas City.
“He’s just a really solid wrestler,” Hafliger said. “He’s really good on his feet and he’s really tough on top. Just overall, he’s a very, very tough wrestler. You’re always glad to see your seniors qualify. Kreighton is one of our team captains this year and he’s been a leader for us.”
Schroeder (195) missed time late in the season with an injury but recovered quickly enough to compete in the regional, placing sixth. He enters state 25-5 on the season.
“His first match back was at regionals,” Hafliger said. “He’s still trying to get his wrestling legs back underneath him. We’re just real, real thrilled that he’s qualified. He qualified when he was at Russell and now we’ve got him back qualified again, so he’s been to state, he knows kind of what to expect. Really excited about him getting a chance to win some matches for us there.”
Voth, a 170-pounder, placed fifth at regionals and is 24-13 on the season.
“Chase has had some ups and downs, but he’s fought through those downs and he’s really kind of peaking right now, which is what you want all your guys to do,” Hafliger said. “He really had a good regional tournament, punched his ticket and got in. Really solid for us.”
Schulte (285) qualified for the second straight year after taking fourth at regionals. He is 23-8 on the season.
“He’s getting better and better every week,” Hafliger said. “He’s wanting to learn some new things. We were showing him some things to work on on the bottom, and the next match he goes out and implements those things, and that’s what you like to see from your guys.
“Really excited about his chances. Hopefully he can end his career with a state medal.”
Despite missing significant time on the season due to injury, Gavin Meyers is ranked fourth at 182 pounds with a record of 15-4. He placed fourth at the regional.
“Tough, strong, very mat savvy; knows where he’s at on the mat,” Hafliger said. “He’s wrestled in a lot of big matches. He’s going to be a solid wrestler for us the next three years and I really think he’s got a good shot at doing well at the state tournament.”
After taking fourth in the regional, Nutting (30-13) entered the 220-pound rankings at sixth.
“He has really cleaned up and progressed,” Hafliger said. “His first outing when we were at Campus, he made a lot of mistakes — freshman mistakes. He’s really worked hard in practice to clean up those mistakes and not do those things anymore. He has beaten good guys. He’s beaten ranked kids this year. Really wants to win, wants to have success.”
Hafliger said he doesn’t want any of his wrestlers taking any stock in the rankings heading into state.
“I tell the kids that the only rankings that matter are the ones that come out the Sunday after the state tournament because they’re the only ones that are right,” Hafliger said. “It doesn’t matter, because everybody’s gunning to win. Everybody wants to win. It doesn’t matter if you’re ranked one, sixth, or not at all. We’ve all seen kids that are ranked get upset by kids that aren’t ranked. It just doesn’t matter. Come out and wrestle your match and focus on what you do well — your takedown, your breakdown, your turn — and we’ll be fine.”