Let’s have a Blue Thursday


January 7, 2011 - 12:00 AM

Let’s pack Iola High’s gym with blue and gold Thursday for the Mustangs’ only home Southeast Kansas League wrestling double dual. Iola’s archrival Chanute High’s Blue Comets and the Labette County High Grizzlies are coming into the IHS gym next week.
Next Thursday is BLUE  THURSDAY. Wear the IHS Blue and Gold and come to the wrestling matches.
Don’t know much or anything about the sport of high school wrestling. Come out to learn and cheer on the Mustangs.
“We want the fans to come out and find out about the sport plus support our kids. We’re getting better each year as a team,” said Ron Schomaker, Mustang wrestling head coach.
“Give the sport a chance. We’ve only been wrestling at the high school for three years now. Plus the Southeast Kansas League has some of the best wrestlers in the state and we’re starting to see several of the Iola kids make strides to be in that group.”
Iola High began competitive wrestling in 2008-2009. The Mustang wrestlers competed at the junior varsity level most of that first season but did go into the Class 4A regional tournament that year.
Last year, the Mustangs wrestled a full varsity schedule plus junior varsity tournaments. Iola went 2-6 in SEK dual action last year as a team. The Mustangs qualified two wrestlers to the Class 4A state tournament.
Senior Marcus Sullivan is back for the Mustangs in the 160-pound division after a state-qualifying 31-9 season. Sullivan, who earned SEK honorable mention last year,  has had a strong senior campaign so far at 8-1.
Sophomore Stephen McDonald, who just earned two SEK wins Thursday, is Iola’s top 189-pound wrestler at 12-4. Also going 2-0 in SEK competition Thursday was freshman Mike Armstrong at 119, who ran his overall record to 10-5.
Senior Lee Berg at 130 and juniors Brent Clark and Devin Culler at 135 and 152, respectively, provided solid competitions at their weights. All three wrestlers have been with the IHS program since it started and have winning records this season.
Berg wrestled for the Allen County Kids Wrestling Club early on while Clark and Culler had one year of Iola Middle School wrestling experience.
Iola hopes to have senior Drew Shepherd ready to go by next week. Shepherd, who completed his first year of wrestling last year, has not wrestled this season because of a knee injury. Shepherd wrestles at 171 pounds as does junior Zack Vaughn.
The Mustangs have several other freshmen who are getting their baptism-by-fire at the high school level competing in varsity matches. Cody Conner, Travis Rieske, Bryce Misenhelter and Quinton Morrison have taken to the varsity mat this season.
If terms like takedown, half-nelson, pin and phrases such as break him down, grab an ankle, get two-on-one are foreign to you, come to the IHS gym next Thursday evening. Come find out what a snake, a hammer, a turk, a cradle moves are.
Wrestling begins at 5:30 that evening with Iola taking on Labette County, then Labette County wrestles Chanute. In the final dual of the night, the Mustangs challenge defending SEK champion Blue Comets of Chanute.
A challenge is issued to the IHS students — see if you can pack the gym with Mustang Blue and Gold for your wrestling team.  Come after basketball practices. Come just to support the young men on the mat from Iola High School. Come to cheer them on and learn the sport.

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