Six Jay wrestlers are headed to State
The Sabetha Bluejay wrestling squad traveled to Rossville, for the 2019 Class 3-2-1A Regional Wrestling Tournament on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15 and 16.
The Jays were represented in the two-day tournament by 10 wrestlers, and at the conclusion of the tournament the Jays had qualified six wrestlers for the Class 3-2-1A State Wrestling Championships, to be held in Hays this coming weekend.
The Jay grapplers crowned two regional champions, and four wrestlers worked their way through the backside of the bracket to earn the trip to Hays.
Senior 220-pound Cauy Rokey and senior 285-pound Elliott Strahm totally dominated their weight classes on their journey to regional titles — pinning every one of their opponents.
Senior 145-pound Kamden Brownlee, junior 152-pound Colby Tinklin, and junior 160-pound Walker Lowdermilk earned third place medals; and sophomore 126-pound Kaden Dillon earned fourth place.
“This team on Friday was bent but not broken,” said Assistant Head Coach Hunter Howerton. “We were hit with tons of adversity and emotion throughout the weekend, but the bottom line is that our kids wanted it more than the guy across from them when it mattered most.”
On Saturday, Dillon had to win a pair of matches to qualify for the tournament and his second victory over an opponent that had beaten him previously ignited a fire under the team that produced the best wrestling from the team all season.
“Friday was a bit of a wake-up call for the team,” said Head Coach Ricky Creek. “We dropped some matches that we should not have, but it lifted us to where we had to wrestle better than we have all season on Saturday. Six state qualifiers is what we have to have if we want to contend for a state title as a team.”
The Jays finished in fourth place in the tournament with 115 points. Riley County captured the team title with 144 points, while Rossville scored 123 followed by Silver Lake with 118.
Strahm was last year’s state champion at 285 pounds and entered this year’s regional tournament with a perfect 29-0 record. Strahm pinned his way to the regional championship and will definitely be the favorite to win the state title at Hays. In the finals match, Strahm met Christopher King of Oskaloosa — who had an 18-6 record — and Strahm dominated the match from the onset to win the title for the second year in a row.
Rokey was crowned regional champion after he pinned all three of his opponents in the first period. Rokey entered the tournament with a 22-1 record and the number one seed. In the finals match, Rokey pinned Dane Whalen of Osage City — who had a 28-4 record — in a little over one minute. Rokey will go into the state tournament as one of the favorites to bring home a state title.
Lowdermilk began the tournament with a 29-5 record. Lowdermilk met Justice Dunbar of Mission Valley in his first bout and pinned him in the first period. Lowdermilk’s next bout went into overtime before Lowdermilk defeated Conner Wilson of Maur Hill 5-3 to move into the championship semi-finals. Lowdermilk fell to Deon Barnes of Riley County 6-5 to move to the backside of the bracket. Lowdermilk bounced back with a dominating 5-0 decision over Garrett Carver of Rossville to earn his trip to Hays. In the consolation finals, Lowdermilk pinned Cael Budke of Chase County in the first period to earn third place.
Tinklin entered the tournament with a 20-6 record and qualified for the state tournament with his third place finish. Tinklin met Joe McGrath of Rossville in his first bout and pinned him in the second period. Tinklin then met Calvan Brown of St. Marys and decisioned him 7-6 to get into the championship semi-finals. Daigan Kruger of Silver Lake pinned Tinklin to force him to the backside of the bracket. Tinklin needed to defeat Dylan Smith of Maur Hill to qualify for the state tournament, and he responded with a 9-5 decision over Smith. In the consolation finals, Tinklin once again met Brown of St. Marys and he defeated him once again, 6-2, to earn the third place medal.
Brownlee entered the tournament with a 27-7 record and finished the tournament with a third place medal. Brownlee won his first two bouts of the tournament by falls over Andrew Galloway of Wellsville and William Humburg of Maur Hill. These wins put him into the championship semi-finals against Luke Horn of Riverside, who had a 31-5 record. Horn pinned Brownlee to push Brownlee to the backside of the bracket. Brownlee scored a major decision over Corey Catron of Rossville to qualify for the state tournament, and then defeated Cory Owen of Chase County 5-0 in the consolation finals to capture third place.
Dillon dropped his first bout of the tournament to sophomore Grayden Jackson of Riley County, who had a 24-15 record. This loss put Dillon to the backside of the bracket, where he would have to win the next three matches to place in the top four. Dillon pinned Garrett Johnson of Maur Hill and Colton Bacon of Council Grove to put him into a match against Layne Hurla of Rossville, who had a 31-10 record. Hurla had defeated Dillon previously, but Dillon turned the tables on Hurla and pinned him in the first period — clinching a state berth. Dillon’s win propelled him into the consolation finals against Charles King of St. Marys, who had a 14-6 record. King defeated Dillon 8-2 in the match.
The six qualifying Bluejay wrestlers will wrestle in the Class 3-2-1A State Wrestling Championships at Fort Hays State University in Hays on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22 and 23.