SPRING HILL, Kan. – Doug Newcomb made history in his first year as coach of the Olathe Northwest girls wrestling team.
On Saturday, the first-year head coach of the Ravens led his team to the Kansas State High School Activities Association 6A-5A Regional championship.
Not only was it the first for the girls team, which is still relatively new, it was the first-ever regional title for either Olathe Northwest wrestling program.
“This is big,” Newcomb said. “We’ve never won a regional title in boys or girls wrestling history. So, this is the first in our program. I’m really proud of our girls. Last year, we only had six girls total, and our team has grown to about 12 girls this year. I’m very proud of our girls’ effort today. We won some key matches in the semifinal round that allowed us to have six finalists, and then we had a couple upsets in the finals, as well, over some really tough opponents who we’ve lost to earlier in the year. I’m really proud of the girls and excited for state.”
The Ravens scored 133 team points, defeating runner-up Spring Hill by 10 points. Olathe North finished third with 120.5, with Gardner-Edgerton (97) and Olathe West (76) rounding out the top five teams.
Olathe Northwest qualified six of its nine wrestlers for the state tournament, which will be held Feb. 23-24 at Hartman Arena in Park City. That total equals the number of wrestlers the program had on the team last year.
The Ravens moved up the team rankings on the championship side of the bracket. All six who advanced into the semifinals won their respective matches. And in the finals, five Ravens had their hands raised as regional champions.
They won five of 12 weight classes at the regional tournament. No other team won more than two, and that was Blue Valley Southwest taking home two individual regional titles.
“Last year, we took two to state, and we haven’t had a state medalist yet,” Newcomb said. “Hopefully, we can accomplish that. When I interviewed for the job in the summer, I joked that my goal was to score some team points at the state tournament because last year we didn’t get that accomplished, but I’m confident we can do that this year.”
Team scores and number of state qualifiers 1. Olathe Northwest (6) 133 2. Spring Hill (9) 123 3. Olathe North (7) 120.5 4. Gardner-Edgerton (6) 97 5. Olathe West (5) 76 6. Blue Valley Southwest (3) 65 7. Shawnee Mission South (3) 43 8. Olathe South (1) 38.5 9. Shawnee Mission West (2) 32 10. Olathe East (2) 26 11. Pittsburg (1) 23 12. Blue Valley North (1) 18 13. Blue Valley (1) 14 14. De Soto (1) 10 15. Blue Valley West (0) 4
Winning their respective brackets for the Ravens were Camryn West (101 pounds), Emmy Keller (109), Caroline Foeller (143), Chloe Harris (155) and Val Galligan (170).
West went 2-0 Saturday with two first-round pins. Keller finished 3-0 with two falls and an 8-4 decision in the finals. Foeller received a first-round bye before going 3-0 with two pins and a 7-6 decision in the finals where she scored a late takedown in the finals seconds to win.
Harris pinned all three of her opponents, including a second-round pin in the finals. Galligan had a first-round bye before she pinned her next two opponents. In the championship round, Galligan won by an 8-3 decision.
Hailey Arthur placed runner-up at 132 pounds for the Ravens. She won two matches by fall before being pinned late in the first round of the title match by BVSW Brynn Lowe.
Lowe won all three of her matches by fall to earn the regional championship. Also becoming regional champ for BVSW was Hannah Glynn. She also won her three matches by fall – each in under 22 seconds.
The other state qualifier for BVSW was Karoline Kendall. She finished fourth at 126, going 3-2 on the day, losing twice to Gianna Garcia-Campos of Olathe West.
Not only did Spring Hill host the tournament, the Broncos sent nine wrestlers to state and finished second as a team. They did so without a regional champion.
Leading the way for Spring Hill was runner-up finishes by Gracie Oppeau (126) and Izzy Farris (138). Oppeau went 3-1 with three pins before she lost by tech fall (17-0) to Olathe South Nicole Redmond, who was voted Most Outstanding Wrestler of the regional. Farris finished 2-1 with two falls, but lost in the finals by fall to Gardner-Edgerton Shelby Davis.
Also qualifying for the Broncos were Averi Cochran (4th, 101), Jay Yoder (4th, 115), Kaylynn Ottenschnieder (4th, 120), Nevaeh Tauer (3rd, 143), Campbell Mermis (3rd, 155), Lexi Suter (4th, 170) and Avery Feedback (3rd, 235).
Olathe North was battling for team lead throughout the final round, but the Eagles lost four of five championship matches. Finishing runner-up in their respective weight classes were Amsi Cazares (101), Catherine Duong (109), Elizabeth Ruggles (191) and Hailey Conley (235).
The Eagles still qualified seven for the state tournament. They had one champion from the tournament and that was Kaylan Hitchcock. She pinned her way to a 3-0 record at 115, improving upon her freshman campaign. Also qualifying for Olathe North was Aubrianna Barnes (3rd, 132) and Rocky Kingsby (4th, 138).
“From a good standpoint, we qualified seven out of our 10 girls,” ON coach Dylan Hitchcock said. “So, I was really pleased with that. My goal going in was six, so we overachieved there. We didn’t finish quite as strong as I would have liked. We lost some close finals matches, but the good news is we are still in a position where we can still accomplish our goals. Overall, I was really happy.”
Gardner-Edgerton was led by a single champion and five state qualifiers. Shelby Davis won all three of her matches by fall in the first period. Her longest match lasted 1 minute and 40 seconds.
Olathe West is sending five to state. Leading the way for the Owls was Makayla Rivera, who had to win only two matches at 235 to win the regional title. She pinned both of her opponents.
The other Olathe West state qualifiers were Ilene Sanabria-Baez (101), Gianna Garcia-Campos (126), Laney Finazzo (155) and Zahra Andela (170).
– story by Jimmy Gillispie