McPHERSON — The Winfield High School wrestling team may have suffered as much as anyone with the postseason changes.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing, the Kansas State High School Activities Association broke up the traditional postseason consisting of Regionals and State, adding a Sub-State round while knocking the State meet down from two days to one.
So it goes without saying that several quality grapplers will be left out of the Big Show.
Just four Vikings advanced to the Sub-State round, and senior Braden Ledford was the only one to qualify for the KSHSAA Class 4A State Championships, set for this Saturday at the Tony’s Pizza Events Center in Salina. Only the top four placers advanced.
The KSHSAA elected to have a Sub-State round, broken up into two tournaments. The Vikings finished in 18th place Saturday at the 24-team Class 4A McPherson Sub-State that included No. 1-ranked and Sub-State champion Andale, No. 4 Rose Hill, No. 5 Augusta No. 6 Mulvane and No. 8 Colby.
“You only deserve what you earn,” WHS coach Nick McGrew said. “Unfortunately, we only got Braden through to the State tournament. Kids wrestled tough, but qualifying one isn’t good enough for our standards. I have to do a better job and get back to the drawing board.”
Ledford, ranked No. 3 in Class 4A and No. 6 in All-Classes at 126 pounds, will take a 32-3 record into the Big Show after placing third Saturday.
Ledford opened with a 10-4 decision against Tucker Wark of Colby, but dropped a 6-2 semifinal decision to No. 2-ranked Devon Weber of Pratt.
A 12-7 victory against Kaleb Stroda of Abilene clinched a State berth for Ledford, who completed a third-place finish with a 5-0 victory against Wark.
WHS junior Parker Smith was a casualty of the new format. Smith placed sixth at 182, missing out on qualifying by one victory.
A second-period near-fall spelled the difference as Smith (25-13) dropped a heartbreaking 7-5 decision to Jeffery Nix of Scott City in the opening round.
Smith bounced back with a pin of Goodland’s Isaiah Shinette on the backside but, needing just one more victory to advance to State, had the arduous task of facing top-seeded and No. 6-ranked Iziah Cook of Pratt, who pulled away for a 15-9 victory.
Senior Trevin Biddle had to face No. 2-ranked Elijah Aouad of Andale in the first round at 170. Biddle put up a gallant battle, but fell to the backside with a 19-14 loss.
His next match was even tougher to take, a 10-8 loss to Bryce Winsor of Pratt that ended Biddle’s final high school season with a 22-14 record.
Senior Eli Lynch also ended his season with an 0-2 record at 220, including a first-round loss to No. 5-ranked Michael Schneider of Nickerson.
Class 4A Sub-State Championships
Saturday at McPherson High School
Team Scores — 1. Andale 158; 2. Colby 105; 3. Augusta 91.5; 4. Rose Hill 90; 5. Pratt 89; 6. Mulvane 65; 7. Scott City 59; 8. Abilene 57; 9. Clay Center 53; 10. Concordia 48; 11. Wamego 31; 12t. El Dorado 30; 12t. Ulysses 30; 14t. Buhler 26; 14t. Goodland 26; 16. Larned 22; 17. Rock Creek 20; 18. Winfield 15; 19t. Hesston 6; 19t. Nickerson 6; 21. Chapman 5; 22. Wellington 4; 23t. Hugoton 0; 23t. McPherson 0; 23t. Towanda-Circle 0; 23t. Wichita Trinity 0.
126 — Braden Ledford, third place (3-1): won by dec. Tucker Wark (Col), 10-4; lost by dec. Devon Weber (Prt), 6-2; won by dec. Kaleb Stroda (Abi), 12-7; won by dec. Tucker Wark (Col), 5-0.
170 — Trevin Biddle, DNP (0-2): lost by dec. Elijah Aouad (And), 19-14; lost by dec. Bryce Winsor (Prt), 10-8.
182 — Parker Smith, sixth place (1-3): lost by dec. Jeffery Nix (SC), 7-5; won by pin Isaiah Shinette (Good), 2:06; lost by dec. Iziah Cook (Prt), 15-9; lost by dec. Jeffery Nix (SC), 5-3 (SV-1).
220 — Eli Lynch, DNP (0-2): lost by pin Michael Schneider (Nick), 5:53; lost by pin Carter Atteberry (Larn), 4:48.