Lafayette, Parkway South, Westminster matmen to compete in Lindbergh tourney
By: Warren Mayes
Lafayette coach Jonathan Sumner is eager to see how his Lancers perform in the second annual Flyer Holiday Tournament at Lindbergh.
The two-day tournament begins Thursday (Dec. 27) and finishes Friday.
“We hope to be competitive,” Sumner said. “We will just have to wait and see where the chips fall. It all depends on the health of some our kids. We haven’t been full strength yet all year, so I don’t know where we stand.”
Lindbergh coach Josh Hansel said there will be 20 teams competing this year. In addition to host Lindbergh, the other teams are Lafayette, Hazelwood East, Hazelwood West, Westminster Christian Academy, Oakville, Mehlville, Kirkwood, Lee Summit West, Washington, Oak Park, Columbia Hickman, Sikeston, Troy, Francis Howell, Parkway South, Parkway North, Marquette, Vianney, and Harr-Berr (Ark.)
Troy is the defending champion.
“It should be a great two days of wrestling,” Hansel said.
“They are some top notch schools Kansas City schools in the tournament including Oak Park, which has consistently produced some top notch wrestlers and Lee’s Summit West, which is a Kansas City team on the rise,” Sumner said. “There are a lot of competitive St. Louis teams, with each having a couple standouts on their team. Anytime you get 20 teams into one tournament it is naturally going to be a tough tournament, if nothing else due to the numbers.
“Josh Hansel and Mike Slyman (Lindbergh’s athletic director) did a really nice job of recruiting and expanding this tournament from last year. We are excited to be a part of it.”
The field could produce any number of teams to be successful, Hansel said.
“I think the top teams should be Washington, Lafayette, Francis Howell, Harr-Berr, Lee Summit West and Troy,” Hansel said.
Parkway South coach Jim Lake is happy to have his Patriots involved in the event.
“This is our first year in the tourney so we don’t know that much about it,” Lake said. “We will compete individually, but have some injuries at other weights that we will have to overcome as well. It looks to be a good mix of in-town, cross state, and out of town teams. It should be a great holiday tourney.”
Westminster coach Tim Muehleisen is eager to see how his Wildcats perform. They are one of the smaller schools in the event.
“The tournament will be the best competition we’ve seen so far,” Muehleisen said. “It really is a who’s who from the St. Louis area. Certainly I feel like my kids can compete here. I know we aren’t as deep as some of the teams here, but our older kids should be fine.”
There are numerous top individual matmen in the field. J’den Cox, a senior from Columbia Hickman, will go at 220 pounds and is three-time defending state champ. Oak Park junior Noah Teaney will compete at 126 and he is a two-time defending state champ. Francis Howell’s Jarrett Franklin will go at 195 and he is a defending state champ. Lafayette’s Nick Olejnik will compete at 145 and he is a two-time state medalist.
“Nick has only lost a few matches the past two years and he is a senior on a mission,” Sumner said. “We have some other kids in the mix at various weight classes who I feel have a strong chance to win it. We will just have to see how it all plays out.”
Muehleisen said senior Bennett Lewis must be counted in among the contenders at 195.
“He’s a returning state medalist and he still hasn’t lost this year,” Muehleisen said. “He’s having a nice run of it.”
Sumner’s team has been doing well this season but he said they can get better.
“We are a young team constantly improving. We haven’t been 100 percent yet this year and we are still working down toward are state weight classes, so I am not sure where we stand yet,” Sumner said. “Our kids have been working hard and we have some great coaches in the room working with these kids and adjusting little things that go a long way. A lot of our early season success from our young kids can be attributed to that along with a focus and work ethic that long to have in the room.”
Holiday tournaments are good for kids to keep busy over the break, the coaches said.
“I enjoy it. The holiday break can be a time where kids lose focus on their end of the year goals,” Sumner said. “Holiday tournaments keep them motivated and focused on the long journey to get there. Essentially nothing else is going on so they can tune in on wrestling for the week. Anytime you step on the mat and wrestle as much as possible we hope we are improving for the end of the year.”
The chance to compete against teams you don’t normally face has Muehleisen excited.
“A big tourney over the break is huge for our kids,” Muehleisen said. “We will have had almost two weeks of training since we last competed and they are ready to get out there. We will also have a little longer recovery time than with a normal tourney.
“We are still struggling to get everyone healthy. I’m sure every coach can say that, but it would be good for the boys to see their whole lineup out there at the same time. They all know that we will be competitive through the lineup when we can get things in order. The seniors are wrestling well, and I hope at this point in the year for some younger kids to start raising their level a bit.”