Two Jay grapplers capture medals at State Championship
The 2022 Boys Wrestling State Championship 3-2-1A Tournament came to a conclusion Saturday afternoon, Feb. 25, after two days and 406 matches. This year’s tournament was a wrestling fan’s dream come true with a full compliment of exciting matches, unexpected upsets and hometown wrestlers bringing home coveted medals.
The Sabetha Bluejay wrestling squad traveled to Hays on Thursday, Feb. 24, with 10 wrestlers who had qualified the previous weekend for the tournament. Sabetha was matched only by eventual team champion Hoxie with the most wrestlers competing on the four mats on the floor at Gross Memorial Coliseum at Fort Hays State University.
The Jays finished the competition with 41 points and a 15th-place finish in the tournament that was captured by Hoxie, who finished with 186 points.
After 37 matches involving Sabetha grapplers, two wrestlers were able to place in the top six of their respective weight class and bring home a state medal.
“We knew it was going to be tough to get on the podium, it always is,” said Assistant Head Coach Trevin Edelman. “That makes what Kellen [Menold] and Jonathan [Renyer] did all the more impressive. The team got great experience on the biggest stage and that will only make them better next year. It has been a really fun season and the growth of our team was tremendous. Next season cannot start soon enough!”
K. Menold and Renyer went 3-3 in their six bouts over the two days of tough competitive wrestling.
Senior 113-pound Kellen Menold, who entered the tournament with a 25-4 record, closed out his wrestling career by earning a sixth-place finish and a place in Sabetha wrestling history.
“Last year was my first year of competitive wrestling and I took first at regionals, so I wanted to do that again this year, but I came up short,” K. Menold said. “Since I made it to state last year, my goal was to just get back there once more. I really did not expect to be able to place at state with only two years of experience. Once the tournament started, I just kept wrestling just one match at a time and not worry about the next match. Being one of the leaders on the team – along with Jonathan and Josh – I just wanted to be an example for the other wrestlers. I am just so pumped about being able to get a medal out here.”
In his first bout of the tournament K. Menold – the senior leader of this year’s squad – matched up against Will Donley of Ellsworth, who had a 33-8 record. In an exciting bout that went back and forth, the two wrestlers were deadlocked at 7-7 after three periods. In the first seconds of the overtime period, K. Menold took Donley to the mat for two points and the 9-7 win.
Up next for K. Menold in the championship quarterfinals was Evan Coble of West Elk, who had a 22-1 record. Coble, who finished the tournament in third place, jumped out early and took K. Menold to the mat and pinned him in the first period. This loss put K. Menold to the consolation cross bracketing side of the bracket where he faced Seth Welch of Erie. Welch had a 32-5 record.
K. Menold completely dominated Welch from the opening whistle and came away with an impressive 14-3 decision. K. Menold now advanced to the consolation quarterfinals and to what is known to the wrestling world as the blood round. Win in this round and you are guaranteed a state placing and a medal, but if you lose, your season is over. It is commonly referred to as the most exciting round in wrestling.
Awaiting K. Menold in the round was Owen Weatherhead of Belleville-Republic County, who had a 32-11 record. K. Menold took the early lead with a takedown in the opening two minutes, and then added two more in the second period with another takedown. The third period was wild with each wrestler gaining control over the other at some point. In the closing seconds of the bout, K. Menold reversed Weatherhead for two points and the 8-4 victory, and the assurance of placing at state.
In the consolation semifinals, K. Menold met Josh Juenemann of Oberlin, who had a 14-6 record. Juenemann, who finished the tournament in fourth place, decisioned Menold, 10-3, and from there, Menold would finish out his career by wrestling for fifth place against Josiah Knoll of Minneapolis, who had a 23-10 record. Knoll pinned Menold in the second period. Menold completed his senior campaign with a 28-7 record, and a sixth-place finish at the state tournament.
Junior 152-pound Jonathan Renyer, who entered the tournament with a 32-6 record, also earned a sixth-place finish and the coveted place in the Sabetha wrestling record book.
“It was very nerve-racking for me this weekend and I was feeling a little pressure to perform after winning regionals last week,” J. Renyer said. “I finally just decided to just go out and wrestle and have some fun and let it happen. I definitely wanted to place and get a medal after last weekend. I just let my instincts take over and wrestled like I knew I could.”
Awaiting in the opening bout of the tournament for J. Renyer was Cole Mathes of Humboldt, who had a 24-9 record. J. Renyer jumped out to a 6-2 lead after one period and dominated for the duration of the bout for an impressive 14-6 decision.
In the championship quarterfinals, J. Renyer matched up against Tanner Sells of Wakeeney, who had a 32-6 record. Sells, who finished in second place in the tournament, decisioned J. Renyer, 7-2. This loss pushed J. Renyer to the consolation side of the bracket.
In the cross bracketing round, J. Renyer faced Garrett Heimer of Hill City, who had a 38-8 record. Renyer wasted little time as he immediately put Heimer to his back and pinned him in 38 seconds. Renyer now advanced to the blood round, where Joseph Ord of Anthony/Harper-Chaparral, who had a 35-5 record, awaited him. Renyer led 2-1 after two minutes and in the second period, Renyer scored seven points on a pair of takedowns and a three-point near fall to take a commanding 9-4 lead into the final two minutes. Renyer kept the pressure up on Heimer, and closed out the match and decisioned him 12-7 to assure his hopes of placing in the tournament.
In the consolation semifinals, J. Renyer faced Drew Bretz of Hoxie, who had a 38-2 record, and was last year’s state champion at 138 pounds. Bretz was one of the surprise upsets of the tournament as he was decisioned in the championship semifinals, and sent to the backside of the bracket. J. Renyer battled Bretz to the end, but was decisioned, 15-0.
J. Renyer would now wrestle for fifth place against Austin Wolff of Minneapolis, who had a 33-7 record. In one of the most exciting battles of the tournament, J. Renyer and Wolff went into overtime deadlocked at 6-6. Wolff was able to secure a takedown in the closing seconds of the first overtime period to escape with the 8-6 win.
J. Renyer finished the year with a 35-9 record and a sixth-place medal at the state tournament.
“[It was] a really fun weekend having 10 guys coming out and laying it all out for each other,” said Head Coach Ricky Creek. “Results were not quite what we had hoped, but that is how it goes at a state tournament. Watching Kellen [Menold] and Jonathan [Renyer] earn their medals was a perfect finish to such a memorable year. With nine qualifiers returning and four other varsity guys back, next year should be just as exciting.”
The Jays had eight wrestlers make it into the cross bracketing round on the consolation side of the bracket. Out of those eight, five wrestlers, including K. Menold and J. Renyer, entered into the blood round with a chance to medal with a victory.
Sophomore 126-pound Cullen Wikle came up just short, falling 6-5 to Hunter Sisson of Phillipsburg. Sophomore 132-pound Colin Menold was decisioned 10-3 by Gavin Moore of Haven to end his quest. Sophomore 285-pound Josh Grimm came up just short as he was decisioned 4-2 by Justin Miller of Oskaloosa in a match that went down to the final seconds. The Jays went 16-21 in the tournament.
They will only graduate one wrestler from this year’s squad and will return a very solid and experienced team of wrestlers for next year’s team.