Double play: Olathe duo going for 2nd state titles
Kyle Piatt and Zach Shank have spent hours pounding on each other on the wrestling mat.
The practice has paid off. Each Olathe High School wrestler has won one state title.
Piatt and Shank are both looking for another. The Class 3A state championships begin at 3 p.m. today at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Piatt (34-0), a 171-pound senior, will try to cap his high school wrestling career with a perfect record and a second consecutive state title.
“There is a lot of pressure, but I love this time of year,” Piatt said.
Shank (39-1), a 125-pound junior, had his sights set on this weekend since losing in the state finals last year.
“I’m looking forward to this more than anything,” he said. “I made it up to myself to never let (losing in the state finals) happen again. I’ll do anything to get it back.”
Shank spent the summer running two miles a day nearly every day to prepare for this season.
“I pushed myself thinking about the state championship every day,” Shank said. “The biggest thing I learned was anything can happen. I let it get to my head too much.”
The fifth-ranked Pirates qualified 11 wrestlers for the state tournament, including five seniors and five first-time qualifiers. Seniors Myles Yarnell (34-9), Dustin Kelso (12-21) and Miguel Ramirez (11-15) qualified for the first time.
Ramirez won a wrestleback at regionals to qualify for state in his first year of wrestling and Trenton Piatt and Jacob Solseth are first-time qualifiers.
“Eleven is a good number to take over,” said Olathe coach Harvey Starbuck, whose wrestlers haven’t talked about placing high as a team, but rather concentrating on winning as many matches as they can and seeing where they finish. “I like our chances the way our kids are wrestling. We haven’t set our sights on top five.”
Rifle qualified eight wrestlers, led by four-time state qualifier Larry Schmueser.
The 140-pound senior (37-3), though, wants to do more than place for the first time. He wants to win it all.
“Larry is the type of kid when he does something and it doesn’t work, he’s going to work that much harder to succeed,” Rifle coach John Wisniewski said. “He’s progressed. Each year, he sets his goal higher. His ultimate goal is to be standing on top of that podium.”
Keaton Deere is making his third trip for the Bears, and Brandon Kittle, Coy Zang, Frank Ruelas, Alex Copeland, AJ Cordova and Kyle Shaw qualified for the first time.
Zang (6-13) wrestled on the junior varsity most of the season and replaced an ill Hugo Ruelas at regionals last weekend.
Hotchkiss and Grand Valley are each sending seven wrestlers to state.
The Bulldogs have two returning state placers in 135-pound senior Ryan Spor (27-4) and heavyweight senior Kyle Douglass (38-4). Both are No. 1 seeds.
Jesse Head, Brett Suppes and Vikash Hypio qualified for the first time.
Five of the Cardinals’ seven state qualifiers are making their first appearance, including Emilio Ruelas.
The 145-pound senior (34-5) wrestled on the junior varsity behind state champions Ryan Gallegos and Jared Tonder the past three years.
Jerrod Busch and David Witt qualified again. Busch placed sixth last year.
Cedaredge qualified three wrestlers, including Zach Love and Cole Caywood for the second time.