Class 5A wrestling notes
Four for Gentzler
When Andover Central’s Zac Gentzler won his first three Class 5A wrestling titles, he didn’t celebrate.
Saturday, though, when he won his fourth title, with a 10-2 major decision over Goddard’s Dakota Leach in the 120-pound final, Gentzler celebrated by pointing to the crowd.
He is the 29th Kansan to win four wrestling championships.
“That wasn’t at all planned,” said Gentzler, who is 41-0 this season, 159-1 in his career said. “It was coming just straight from the heart. I’m not usually one to celebrate. The past few years, I hate watching kids celebrate. Ultimate goal was always to win four, and I decided I wasn’t going to celebrate until I got it.”
Pointing to the crowd was Gentzler’s way of acknowledging his coaches and his father, Dan, who pushed him, challenged him, woke him up at 5 a.m. for workouts.
Gentzler couldn’t find his dad in the crowd, but there Dan Gentzler was, tears in his eyes as he handed out hugs.
Andover Central coach Chris Saferite had his own tears clouding his vision.
“The whole match, it didn’t hit me,” Saferite said. “Then I walked over here (off the mat) and I’m on my own, and I started to think about it. I may never get another chance to coach a four-timer. It’s just something special.”
Gentzler knew he’d have a tough match with Leach, a national champion during the summer and a 5A champ at 120 pounds in 2012. Gentzler had wrestled Leach three times during the season, including in the regional title match.
“You wrestle someone that good, it’s tough to keep beating someone,” Saferite said.
But Gentzler didn’t enter the match battling nerves and he didn’t change anything.
He just wrestled like he has for the past four years at Andover Central.
“He wrestled very aggressive, but smart,” Saferite said. “He doesn’t get himself in trouble. But that’s Zac. He’s always in the right position. He’s always doing the right thing.”
As soon as Kapaun Mount Carmel junior Parker Howell pinned Kansas City Turner’s PJ Cheney, Howell raced up into the stands to hug his mother, Cindy.
“I just had to go up to my parents and give them a hug,” said Howell, who pinned Cheney at 1:05. “I’ve put them through a lot of stress, thinking I’m going to get hurt again.”
Howell suffered a broken elbow in the second match of the season and only returned for the City League tournament and regionals. After winning regionals, he sailed through 5A with three pins.
But the road back to the mat was difficult.
Cindy Howell couldn’t even stand to watch her son’s matches. During Saturday’s final, she stood on the concourse, only returning to her seat when her son won.
“I was extremely worried (about him getting hurt),” she said. “He’s fought back really hard this year with that elbow. I didn’t know how it would work, but he got the job done. I’m so proud of him. It was a long battle for him, very tough. Words can’t express how excited I am for him. It was mentally and physically tough this year.”
The reward was great, though.
“I’m still in shock myself,” Howell said. “It’s hard to believe, what 10 weeks ago, I broke my elbow. Now I’m at Hartman Arena, winning state.”
Andover senior Lukas Maki won his first title, beating Blue Valley’s Sawyer Like 4-3 at 132 pounds.
“It feels great to finally say I’ve got a state title under my belt,” Maki said. “I waited four years for it.”
Maki was 2-2 at state his freshman year, finished fifth his sophomore season and fourth last year.
He tried to treat the title match just like any other, but wasn’t easy.
“There is a little bit more nerves and pressure on you when you’re out there, and it’s in front of the entire state,” he said.
Newton’s Dillon Archer, the defending champ at 195 pounds, lost to Hays junior Preston Weigel in the title match. Weigel, who was 41-0, won at 170 as a sophomore.
Great Bend senior Chris Burley won his second straight at 126 pounds, beating Newton’s Quinton Harrison. Burley also won at 112 in 2011.
Topeka Seaman’s Bryant Guillen beat Newton’s Jared Langley at 170 pounds to win his second title. Shawnee Heights’ Nick Meck won his second straight, beating Valley Center’s Chad Blair at 182.
Leavenworth’s Nathan Butler won his third title. He won two titles in Class 6A at 220 and 215. He won at 285 in 5A.