(Tribune file photo)
"We should see some great wrestling this weekend and hope we can put more than a few on into the State Tournament," Fort Scott head coach David Brown says.
Fort Scott's lineup, along with comments about each wrestler from coach Brown, can be seen below the line at the bottom of this article.
Fifteen teams will be in attendance including each of the nine Southeast Kansas League schools -- Chanute, Coffeyville, Columbus, Independence, Iola, Labette County, Parsons and Pittsburg -- as well as Anderson County, Osawatomie and Prairie View of the Pioneer League and Louisburg, Ottawa and Paola of the Frontier League.
Four of last season's five State Tournament qualifiers return for the Tigers. Victor Hughes and John Metcalf were second in their weight classes while Tyler Sharp and Jacob Durossette finished third. Sharp will be seeking his third trip to State while Durossette was unable to take part in the State tourney last season due to an injury.
The Tigers are a young team with just two seniors in the Regional lineup, Christian Tavenaro and Dane Cummings. The remaining 10 are split evenly between the junior and sophomore classes. Fort Scott will be open at two weights, 113 and 285 pounds.
Fort Scott will be battling for team honors with Pittsburg, the Southeast Kansas League champion for the second consecutive season, and Chanute, a perennial area power coached by FSHS graduate Andy Albright. Pittsburg is ranked third in Class 4A by the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association while Chanute is ranked 10th.
There are 16 individuals ranked by the KWCA in the Regional and 10 who placed in last year's State competition in either Class 5A or Class 4A. All of the Class 5A placers come from Pittsburg, which moved down to Class 4A this school year.
There are three ranked individuals in two weight classes. The 138-pound class features Hughes, a junior, who is ranked No. 2, Columbus freshman Taylor Watkins, ranked No. 5, and Chanute junior Jared Fiscus, ranked sixth. Fiscus placed fifth at State at 130 pounds last season (The weight classes were changed prior to this season).
The 285-pound class also has three ranked individuals. Pittsburg senior Broc Bennett, who placed fifth in Class 5A last year, is No. 2 going into Regionals. Paola junior Joe Pomatto is ranked fourth. He finished third in 4A last year. Labette County's Spencer Gatewood is ranked fifth.
There are two ranked wrestlers in two weight classes, including 132 pounds where Durossette, a junior, is No. 4. Parsons senior Thatcher Murdock, sixth at State at 130 last year, is ranked sixth.
Chanute freshman Adam Cole is ranked fifth at 113 pounds while Pittsburg junior Jeremiah Jones is sixth.
Six classes have one ranked individual. Defending Class 5A 135-pound State champion Aaron Seybold, a Pittsburg senior, carries the No. 1 ranking at 145 pounds into this regional.
Fort Scott's Cummings moved into the KWCA rankings this week as the No. 6 wrestler at 195 pounds.
The 126-pound class features Louisburg senior Austin Hood, who is No. 1 going into this year's Regional. Hood is the defending Class 4A champion at 119 pounds.
Sam Son, a Chanute senior who finished third at State at 152 last season, is top-ranked at 160 this year. Paola senior Tyler Henness is ranked No. 4 at 170 pounds and Pittsburg sophomore Levi Kester is fourth at 106.
In addition to the other State returnees named, Parsons senior Dalton Murdock, Thatcher's twin brother, finished sixth at 125 pounds last year. The brothers have each won 100 matches in their high-school careers going into Regionals. Another returning State placer is Prairie View sophomore Kaleb Konitzer, sixth at State as a 112-pounder last year. He had been ranked at 120 until this week. Devon Dozier, an Osawatomie senior who took fourth at 135 in 4A last year, was ranked third at 145 until this week.
NOTES -- Fort Scott last hosted Regionals in 2005. The Tigers were the champions that year beating out Baldwin by 19 1/2 points and sending 10 qualifiers on to State at Wichita....
Fort Scott will be one of several sites that will post information online this weekend.
"We will be a pilot regional for a computer program that is extremely fan friendly," Brown says. "The Trackwrestling program allows immediate updates to their site, which can be accessed via computer or smartphone."
Because there are 15 teams, there's guaranteed to be a bye in every bracket. However, not every school will bring wrestlers for every weight class, so there will be more in many of the brackets....
This Regional is essentially the same group that gathered last year at Chanute. The only difference in Pittsburg moving in to take the place of Spring Hill. Prairie View won the Regional ahead of Spring Hill and Paola last season. However, Chanute, the fourth-place team at the Regional, had the highest finish at State, taking fourth. Spring Hill finished ninth while Prairie View settled for 12th place....
These are the 12 wrestlers Fort Scott High School head coach David Brown will enter into this weekend's Regional Tournament, with his comments about each one. The 113-pound and 285-pound weight classes will be open.
106 pounds: Cole Stewart, soph., 20-17.
Brown's comment: "Cole looks like he could end up with a 4th-place seed. If he continues to improve as he has for the past few weeks, he can earn a trip to state as a sophomore."
120 pounds: Tyler Sharp, jr., 28-14.
Brown's comment: "Tyler is looking to collect his third trip to state but is one of the toughest brackets in our tournament. He has made some mistakes in matches that has pushed his seedability down. He must perform to his ability to earn that coveted third trip. I think he is as good as anyone at his weight and could place high in this tournament."
126 pounds: Jerad Heckman, soph., 28-13.
Brown's comment: "Jerad will probably be a 3 or 4 seed. His training and work ethic has pushed him into a great position in this tourney. With his recent performance at Rose Hill he is poised to make a run at a state medal."
132 pounds: Jacob Durossette, soph., 22-5.
Brown's comment: "Jacob is looking to make his second trip as a sophomore and actually get to wrestle at State. Last year his season was cut short during state week with a knee injury. He is one to watch out for with is dynamo speed and quickness on the mat."
138 pounds: Victor Hughes, jr., 36-3.
Brown's comment: "Victor has earned that distinction (No. 2 ranking in the KWCA poll) with some important victories this season. Vic is looking to make his way to state for the second time, this time with medal intentions."
145 pounds: Caleb Gazaway, soph., 3-13.
Brown's comment: "Caleb finds himself in a tough position but a position that is one we as educators and coaches relish. He is placed in the varsity position due to an injury suffered by Race Kastl. Caleb gets to exemplify the meaning of team and fulfill the old saying that when opportunity knocks open the door."
152 pounds: John Hughes, soph., 25-15.
Brown's comment: "John is in one of the most evenly matched weight classes. He should be a 1 or 2 seed and could be making his first trip to state if he can wrestle to his potential."
160 pounds: Cody Bunn, jr., 17-17.
Brown's comment: "Cody moved in from DeSoto and we have seen how hard Cody works in each match. His record is not impressive but the fact he never stops during a match is. With that desire he definitely has a chance."
170 pounds: John Metcalf, jr., 35-11.
Brown's comment: "John has transformed himself into one of the best 170lbers in the state. His weigh class contains several opponents that can compete for a Regional title. John can and often does out-work and out-technique his opponent. It sure helps having a former State champion as a training partner and brother (Alvin). John has capitalized on his opportunities to get better."
182 pounds: Christian Tavenaro, sr., 26-14.
Brown's comment: "Christian is one tough man. He has been wrestling with a broken nose and wears a mask for protection. Speed and quickness on attack are his greatest asset but I think it is his desire and commitment that sets him apart. At 182, he should be seeded fourth. His trip to State this year will well earned when you look at his competition."
195 pounds: Dane Cummings, sr., 18-5.
Brown's comment: "Dane should get the No. 1 seed and has a great chance to close out his senior year with fitting rewards on the medal stand. He has worked hard the past couple of weeks to eliminate any lingering effects of a muscle strain that held him out of a couple of key events."
220 pounds: B.J. Wilson, jr., 21-15.
Brown's comment: "B.J. has made big improvements to his skills this year. In only his second year of competition, he has had to learn a different style of wrestling because he grew and moved up four weight class from last year."