ABILENE, Kan.—The Manhattan High School wrestling team had a rocky start and middle to the current athletic week but the Indians ended the week on a high note, allowing their coach and followers to believe the hype that surrounds a team that is the defending Class 6A state champion and is currently ranked number five in the state at the Class 6A level by the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association.
The Indians opened the week on Wednesday by wrestling a league dual against Junction City, a dual the Indians lost 44-21, and their week continued Friday night when the Indians met up with Emporia, again a dual the Indians lost 35-22.
Saturday the Indians, traveled into Abilene for a dual tournament which it helps host with Abilene, and left Abilene with five dual victories and the team championship.
“It is important because it means we are a team now,” Gonzalez said. “I think this previous Wednesday and Friday we wrestled as individuals. This means we are a team now.”
The Indians opened the five-dual tournament against co-host Abilene and the Indians displayed that they were also the host of the tournament and even though the mats had the Abilene name and logo they were, in fact, in charge.
The Indians defeated Abilene 45-24 in the dual, after losing the first five matches of the dual and falling behind 24-0.
The Indians overcame that 24-0 deficit by winning the final nine matches of the dual and earning the 21-point victory.
“They are the defending 6A state champions and ranked high this year,” Abilene head coach James Stout said of Manhattan. “We came out to a 34-0 lead on Manhattan, just not being able to score after that but my hat is off to them. Looking back on it we probably would have liked to have that match at the end of the day but that is not how it worked out.”
The other two first round duals were Shawnee Mission East defeating Smith Center 39-35 and Shawnee Heights defeating Goddard 57-24.
The tournament was set up to where all six teams eventually wrestled the other six teams in five different rounds.
The round by round format proved to be set up just right as the final round delivered matches that determined the winners and their places.
In the final round Manhattan defeated Shawnee Heights 49-30. Manhattan was the tournament champion while Shawnee Heights was the second place team.
Abilene defeated Shawnee Mission East 46-27. Abilene finished as the third place team and Shawnee Mission East was the fourth place team.
Smith Center picked up its only win of the day in the final dual of the day when the Redmen defeated Goddard 51-30. Smith Center was the fifth place team in the tournament while Goddard finished in sixth place.
“They get to see competition here that they don’t get to see anywhere else,” Stout said of Smith Center in the bigger-school tournament. “It is hard for them to compete team-score wise at the end of the dual. But they get to see some good kids and that is kind of what they are looking for. They have come out of here with losing records and won state titles. They have come out of here with losing records and brought home state trophies. It is a good tournament for them and we do appreciate them coming down.”
The second round of the tournament saw Manhattan top Shawnee Mission East 51-24, Abilene defeate Goddard 48-30 and Shawnee Heights defeat Smith Center 45-33.
The third round had Shawnee Heights defeating Abilene 42-35, Manhattan topping Smith Center 55-13 and Shawnee Mission East topping Goddard 40-25.
The fourth round included Shawnee Heights beating Shawnee Mission East 64-12, Abilene winning over Smith Center 38-25 and Manhattan winning over Goddard 51-15.
“I think we had, an overall, good day,” Stout said. “We brought in a lot of schools bigger than Abilene, good teams, good programs with lots of tradition. We came out 3-2 with a young team and we learned some things to come back in next week and get better.”