Hannah Mumpower | @Hlmump01
Wabaunsee wrestling returned to the state podium last weekend.
Friday and Saturday, juniors Eli Mumpower, Derek Wallin and Alex Warner competed at the Class 3-2-1A KSHSAA State Wrestling Championship at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays.
Wallin went as far as placing 6th and earning a state medal in the 160 pound weight class.
“The experience was different,” Wallin said. “It was super loud. I couldn’t hear the coaches at all, but it was a good change. Matches were a lot tougher because everyone was there to win.”
He started Friday off by wrestling Konnor Pfeifer of Ellis, pinning him with 40 seconds to spare in the third period. He then fell to Matthew Rodriguez of Southeast of Saline by a 7-5 Decision.
On the back side of his bracket, Wallin met Chasyn Vogan of Minneapolis and won by a 4-0 Decision. He went on to defeat Andrew Foote of Hoxie in an overtime thriller 4-2 Decision, making himself a State placer. Wallin then fell to Jesse Gardner of Leoti-Wichita County and landed in the fifth place match, a rematch against Pfeifer of Ellis.
Wallin fell to Pfeifer by pin to take home a strong sixth place finish.
“Derek earned every bit of his state medal this weekend,” coach Joey Heersche said. “It is the best we have ever seen him wrestle. Overtime is always intense, but overtime in the match to place at state is on another level. In that match, Derek had two takedowns waved off, but he kept his head and took care of business in overtime. That makes ten state wrestling medals in the past six years.”
“I felt like I could have done better,” Wallin said. “But my coaches were happy. I cared more and focused more than I sometimes do. I was tired at the end, so I was exhausted going into the last match and it ended pretty quickly. It hasn’t really set in that I’m a state placer. I looked at the medal and it seems cool, but I think I’ll feel better about it as time goes on. I’m excited, but I definitely need a break. I’ll have to start pumping iron to beef up like some of the other kids I faced. I’m definitely shooting for a championship next season.”
Mumpower and Warner were not so fortunate at the state tournament.
Mumpower competed in the 145 pound weight class. He faced Dawson Kempt of Oberlin-Decatur Community and lost by pin in the middle of the second period. On the back side of his bracket, he faced Fredonia’s Matt Weilert and fell by pin, ending his season.
“The first match, I got down early,” Mumpower said. “I fought a bit and got put on my back again. The second match was very short. (Weilert) was a lot more aggressive and threw me quickly. It shows how much wrestlers want to win. Everyone there was extremely competitive. Next year I need to be ready to wrestle more aggressively.”
Warner, who wrestles in the 152 pound weight class, began Friday facing Hunter Prochaska of Beloit and fell by pin. He then wrestled Kade Lovelady of Lakin and lost by a 6-4 Decision to finish his season.
“I know now that I’m not as bad as I thought I was,” Warner said. “I’m going to go into next season with a little more confidence and make it a goal to get back to state next year.”
“Both Eli and Alex had tough draws,” Heersche said. “Alex had to face the eventual state champ in the first round, and Eli’s losses were to the kids who got third and fourth. I thought they all wrestled tough and showed that they belong at the state tournament. All three being juniors, and Jackson Havenstein being a sophomore, we definitely expect to be back at the state tournament next year. We also have a handful of 8th graders that could do some damage at the state tournament next year, provided they come out for wrestling.”
“The number one reason kids quit wrestling is because it is too tough. Those that stick it out are a different breed of athlete.”