After dominating the regional wrestling tournament and sending nine wrestlers to state, Marion took 12th place as a team out of 72 teams, and junior wrestlers Kyle Palic and Adam Janzen medaled over the weekend at the state tournament in Hays.
“For the first time we felt like we belonged there,” coach Chad Adkins said Monday. “Overall, we had what it took to compete at a state level.”
During the tournament, Marion fought for every one of the 41.5 team points they finished with.
“We wrestled well as a team,” Adkins said. “We lost some close matches but we were not pinned very much.”
Adkins said the younger wrestlers competed well but were physically outmatched by older, more developed opponents.
Remington Putter wrestled opponents who dominated him physically, Adkins said, because of the fact that they had dropped a lot of weight to wrestle at 145 lbs.
Adkins also noted 106-pounder Jarrett Johnson’s first round match that went into quadruple overtime.
“He lost in a heartbreaker that ended up 0-0 in the ‘ultimate tie-breaker’ round,” Adkins said.
Adkins took the blame for Johnson’s lose because he said there was a mix up in communication as to what position Jarrett should take in the final overtime.
“We chose bottom; we should have gone with top,” Adkins said. “The guy just rode him out for the win.”
With a large and exuberant crowd, Adkins said, some of the wrestlers also experienced a little shock during their first matches because of the tournament’s size and quality of competition.
“There was a lot more encouragement at state compared to at normal tournaments,” senior Luke Steele said Monday. “You could hear the roar of the fans. Ordinarily you don’t hear that but you could really feel the crowd’s vibration.”
Steele went 0-2 over the weekend and was pleased with his performance.
“If you asked me a year ago if I thought I would go to state this year I would have laughed,” Steele said. “My biggest flaw was confidence but I believe I wrestled my very last match against the sixth seed with everything I had.”
Janzen finished 3-3 in the 170 lb. weight class to place sixth in the state after a 7-2 defeat in his final match.
“The first day I had a lot of nerves but I ran the moves I knew, listened to the coaches, and focused on take downs,” Janzen said. “I knew if I didn’t focus I wouldn’t get anything done so I tried to relax and wrestle like it was any other tournament.”
Janzen was happy with the way he finished and felt he couldn’t have performed any better, but he plans to continue training for next year by competing in recreational wrestling and attending a wrestling camp in Colorado over the summer.
Janzen credited his success to his coaches’ guidance and encouragement, training with Cody and Dylan Wildin and day-to-day sparing with his teammates including Palic.
“Kyle has wrestled a lot,” he said. “He knows wrestling.”
Palic said he started wrestling when he was about 5. Wrestling at approximately 205 lbs. in the 220 lbs. weight class, Palic routinely competed against opponents who were about 15 lbs. heavier.
“Not only were a lot of guys bigger, but a lot were stronger so I had to be faster than them to wear them out,” Palic said.
He placed second in the state at 220 lbs. after losing by one point in the championship round.
“Kyle tightened up a little bit in the finals,” Adkins said. “There were a couple calls that didn’t go our way but we just needed to open up and be more aggressive.”
Toward the end of the Palic’s championship match there was some contention with the referee about points scored.
“My strength and energy was top notch, right where I needed to be,” Palic said. “I can blame it on calls I guess, but what happened happened. I had the state jitters. I could have pushed the kid more while we were on our feet.”
Adkins said Palic and Janzen performed phenomenally throughout the tournament.
“Both guys are such great athletes,” Adkins said. “Kyle is hungry. He texted me all day yesterday to see what he can do better next year.”
Palic also said he could not have achieved second place without his team, especially his “shark bait” group in practice that consisted of Janzen, John Nordquist, and Zac Lewman.
“Adam and I pushed each other a lot, too,” Palic said. “And our coaches never stopped believing in us.”
Lewman, a senior, finished the tournament with a 2-2 record at 182 lbs.
“I came into my last hurrah and did what I wanted to do,” Lewman said. “Walking into the state tournament is unlike anything you will ever feel.”
Lewman said even though he did not medal he was happy to be in the top eight in the state.
“I read the other day that wrestling is the most individualized team sport there is, it’s true,” Lewman said. “Wrestling taught me a life lesson. Don’t give up. Keep pushing.”
“Zac was so close,” Adkins said. “He did everything he could do but he lost in the ‘blood round’. If he would have won he would have medaled at state.”
Lewman said one thing Adkins always reminded the team of was to believe in their capability for greatness.
“It’s important to keep sight of where we were and where we are headed,” Adkins said. “People thought this would be a rebuilding year for us. But we performed above and beyond where I originally thought we would end the season.”
Adkins also said he would not only miss coaching seniors Steele and Lewman but he would miss the assistance manager Rachel Neil provided the team.
“She was our manager for six years,” Adkins said. “She was very important to the team.”
Johnson, 106 lbs., 0-2; Noah Albin, 113 lbs., 0-2; Bryce Shults, 120 lbs. 1-2.; Ezra Darnall, 126 lbs.,1-2; Putter, 145 lbs., 0-2; Steele, 160 lbs., 0-2; Janzen, 170 lbs., 3-3, sixth place; Lewman, 182 lbs., 2-2; and Palic, 220 lbs., 3-1, second place.