Tigers picked to tie for 4th, Comets to repeat
PITTSBURG — Fort Scott High School was picked to tie for fourth place in the Southeast Kansas League and Uniontown was voted second in the Three Rivers League in a poll of coaches announced at an Eastern Kansas wrestling media conference at Pittsburg State University Thursday.
Defending champion Chanute, helmed by former FSHS wrestler Andy Albright, was picked to defend its SEK title followed by Pittsburg, which is now under the tutelage of former Tiger wrestler LC Davis. Independence was chosen third with Coffeyville picked to tie with the Tigers, then Labette County sixth and Parsons seventh.
Jayhawk-Linn was picked to top the Three Rivers League followed by Uniontown and Southeast, which has been joined by Girard for a co-op this season.
Albright, Davis, and Fort Scott head coach Alvin Metcalf, Jr., are three of seven coaches who attended the meeting and were wrestlers for former FSHS head coach David Brown, who was the host of the media conference.
Jayhawk-Linn and Uniontown are coached by brothers and former Brown wrestlers Brett and Cody Kramer. Also present were FSHS assistant Dakota Hall and Paola assistant Darvin Willard to round out the coaching tree.
Metcalf Jr’s Tigers — who lost only two seniors — are numbering about 50 strong initially, though he expects that number to be around 40 to 45 by the time the season starts in December.
“I’m really, really excited for what this season’s gonna bring,” Metcalf said. “We’ll be able to fill a full lineup on both teams, probably. It’ll be a fun year.”
By “both” teams, Metcalf means the boys and the second-year girls’ program, which will have about 20 wrestlers of its own.
“The girls have got five placers returning from the State tournament,” Metcalf said. “Two of them were State runners-up. They did a great job recruiting athletic girls into coming out, so I see us getting better on that front.”
The number of boys Metcalf feels will be able to contribute on varsity is high. Among them, from lightest weight to heaviest, are Shawn Barrager, Donald Harper, Corbin Shelden, Cole Hall, Jake Stinnett, Coby Burchett, Silas Taylor, Jon Daniels, Jacob Zubieta, Kaden Primm, Nick Farrington, Logan Hall, Silvan Roark, and Grayson Quick.
Cody Kramer’s Uniontown program, which is in its fifth year, looks to grow by getting kids into the sport earlier, establishing a kids club and working with the junior high program.
“One thing we did is start a kids’ club program,” Hall said. “it got 25 kids and this year, we’re expecting 35, up to 40 kids. A lot of those kids are Uniontown and the surrounding areas. For us to get to the level we want to be at, which is hopefully placing in the top 10 in (Class) 3-2-1A, and getting some State trophies, we’re going to need to get kids to develop.”
Kramer says that many of his wrestlers are in their second or third years and that his team will have a “lot of new guys.” He said that about 10 to 12 signed up for the team at a meeting earlier in the week and that five of those were returning wrestlers.
Among the returnees is Colt Eck, a two-time State qualifier, making it at 160 pounds last season. There’s also 145-pounder Graham Hathaway, who qualified for State two years ago. Hayden Miller is a senior who is expected to compete at 182 pounds.
“Those guys who have been in our program for three years are starting to understand how we do things,” Kramer said.
Both teams’ seasons begin on December 1. Fort Scott will host its annual dual tournament once again while Uniontown will participate in Caney Valley’s invitational.
NOTES — Doug Vander Linden, head coach at Burlington, presented Albright with two awards from the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association. One was for 15 seasons of service as a head coach and the other was for coaching his 200th dual win last season....
The favorites in other league polls presented at the conference were Frontenac in the CNC, Anderson County in the Pioneer League, Eureka in the Tri-Valley, and Bonner Springs in the Frontier League....