Eli McDaniel | social media editor
For the third straight year, WHS is sending a wrestler to state.
The wrestling team competed at the regional tournament last weekend at Silver Lake. Only two kids were seeded, sophomores Alex Beggs and Weston Johnson. Johnson went 2-0 for the weekend, ending as the regional champion.
Johnson, wrestling in 113, won his first match against Lucas Holthaus from Nemaha Central, which secured his spot for state next weekend at Hays. “I gotta win this. If I don’t, then I’ll be disappointed in myself,” Johnson said about his thoughts during the match.
Johnson advanced to the championship round where he faced senior Kellen Menold from Sabetha who was ranked fifth in the state, all while fighting off his back, never giving up and letting himself get pinned.
“Weston wrestled out of his mind,” coach Jamy Dunbar said. “We’re talking about a sophomore who was home-schooled and didn’t wrestle in high school as a freshman and came out and beat a senior.”
Weston’s wrestling path has been a winding one, starting back when he was four or five. He then wrestled during his seventh and eighth-grade years. Then during what would have been his freshman season, he was home-schooled and did not get the chance to compete in high school wrestling. Due to KSHSAA rules and transfer eligibility, Johnson was not able to compete this season prior to January.
Johnson’s brother, senior Wyatt Johnson from Council Grove, also qualified for state at 132. “My mom was crying because we both made it,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he was confident heading into the final. “What was going through my head was, it didn’t really matter if I won or lost — if I won, great — I’m just up in a higher rank at state and I get a better seeding. If I lose then I’m still going to state.”
This year’s team was quite young with eight of the team members being sophomores. Even with the teams’ inexperience and steep learning curve, coach Dunbar said there is a lot of potential talent within the ranks. “Miguel (Hernandez) for instance was against the first seed right away. He actually got two take downs on the kid but they didn’t count because the first one was out of bounds, the second one after his time expired. So just to do that against the number one seed. It shows me they are getting there,” Dunbar said.
State Wrestling is February 25-26 in Hays 10 a.m. Friday.
“I’m excited about the future. I’m excited for how we’ll do at state,” Dunbar said.