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Hays High wrestling set for Bob Kuhn Prairie Classic

By Randy Gonzales
Special to Hays Daily News

The Hays High boys wrestling team has had to adapt on and off the mat this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Indian girls program also has had to make adjustments during its second year of existence.

Hays High's Gavin Nutting wrestles during a match last season. The Indians will host the Bob Kuhn Senior Prairie Classic on Saturday.

The Indian boys will wrestle in the annual Bob Kuhn Senior Prairie Classic on Saturday at the HHS gym. It will be a preview of what the Indians can expect in postseason, said second-year head coach Heath Meder.

Due to the pandemic, the HHS tournament — which usually takes place over two days — has scaled down to one day and from 25 teams last year to nine this weekend. With the Kansas State High School Activities Association limiting tournaments to 112 participants this year, instead of a 16-wrestler bracket this weekend, it will be down to eight, which will mirror the reduction in the postseason brackets for 2020-21.

“Kids will get to see how competition gets tougher the farther they get in the tournament,” Meder said. “Hopefully, that prepares them for postseason.”

Meder, who wrestled for both Hays High and Fort Hays State University, has high hopes for junior Gavin Meyers at 220 pounds, undefeated and ranked second in the state. Meyers, who placed at state as a freshman, got hurt last year and did not make the season finale.

“He’s incredibly athletic — big, strong kid,” Meder said. “I’m hoping for him to be in the state finals this year and really make up for not being able to compete at state last year.”

The Indians placed two wrestlers at state last season. One has since graduated and the other is junior Gavin Nutting, who has moved down to 195 pounds this season.

“He wears kids out,” Meder said. “He will push kids deep into the match.”

KSHSAA added girls wrestling last season. Before, girls could wrestle but on boys teams. At last year’s inaugural state girls tournament, the Indians had one wrestler who placed in Sarah Zimmerman, who is a sophomore 109-pounder this season.

“She comes from a wrestling family,” Meder said. “She knows her stuff.”

KSHSAA will break the girls state tournament into two divisions this year, Class 6-5A and Class 4-1A. That could portend well for Zimmerman.

“With last year being everything combined, her bracket looks really good,” Meder said. “She should be able to do a lot of good work in the postseason.”

The Indian girls program, which had about a half-dozen out in its inaugural season, has 11 wrestling this season. The HHS girls, who had a home tournament last weekend when the boys had the Junior Prairie Classic, will wrestle Friday at a tournament in Liberal. Also this year, there is a middle school girls wrestling program, with about two dozen girls competing.

“The girls, some of them have been competing since they were little and some who haven’t wrestled at all and in high school now have the opportunity,” Meder said. “There’s been a lot of support. I only see it growing from here.”