TIME TO ‘DANCE’: Trio of Cubs headed to Hays

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Sports

February 20, 2017 - 12:00 AM

MOUND CITY — The Cubs accomplished something over the weekend that has never been accomplished in school history. And they did it three times.
Freshman Gunner Elder was the first to do it, but by the time it was all said and done sophomore Dagen Goodner and junior Noah Johnson had made their reservations to join their teammate at this weekend’s Kansas State Wrestling Tournament in Hays.
The trio represent the first state qualifiers in the two-year history of the Cub program.
“For us three to be the first to go to state, that really shows what our program has become, and what the future holds,” Johnson said.
Goodner will go in as a regional champion after defeating Fredonia’s Steven Conrady 14-7 in the 160-pound finals.
“This year, I set my goal to place at state and I’ve been doing pretty well,” Goodner said. “Taking first place at regionals is a big step towards that… It feels really good and all the glory goes to God, but I put in a lot of work this offseason and as soon as the season started, I busted my butt so I could come to regionals and dominate.”
Elder also made in to the regional finals, but the Cub 113-pounder was pinned by Eureka’s Kolby Beitz — who has a 22-11 record this season.
Although he lost, Humboldt coach Tell Wyrick loved the way his freshman attacked the match.
“He is definitely a scrapper,” Wyrick said. “He’ll get in there and he’s not afraid of anybody.”
The runner-up finish is still good enough to earn Elder a high seed in the state tournament and should bode well for his chances to advance.
“As a freshman, it can’t get much better than that,” Elder said. “I went against a great opponent and tried my hardest, but got beat. Now I’ll go to state and try my hardest again.”
Of the three, the only one who had to sweat it out going into Saturday was Johnson. Goodner and Elder had secured their places at state by winning their semifinal matches on Friday night, but Johnson lost his semifinal match and knew he had a ‘win or go home’ match on Saturday against Cherryvale’s Christian Thornton.
Undeterred, Johnson  — who Wyrick calls a “building block” of the Cubs — made extremely quick work of Thornton by securing the pin in just 27 seconds.
“I went out there with everything I had left because it was either lose and go home or win and move on and everybody wants to move on,” Johnson said.
With his spot in the state field secured, Johnson wrestled Whitewater-Remington’s Jacob Rowland in the third-place match.
After a scoreless first period, Rowland hit a big move and 35 seconds into the second period, he was able to pin Johnson.
Despite the loss, Johnson’s fourth place finish earns him a spot in Hays at the state tournament.
Seth Hegwald also needed one win on Saturday to qualify for state. Unfortunately for the 197-pounder, he was pinned by Whitewater-Remington’s Gavino Lopez in 1:52 and denied his spot at state.
With three wrestlers making it to state and a fourth on the doorstep, Wyrick is amazed with the growth of his wrestlers in just two years.
“Those guys have worked there tails off and they’ve earned it,” Wyrick said. “They put the time in and it is really paying off.”

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