Boys state wrestling: Five state storylines/wrestlers to watch
Bracket of champions
In many years, Tonganoxie's Grayson Sonntag would be the overwhelming favorite to capture the 126-pound state title this weekend at the Class 4A state tournament in Salina.
After capturing the 120-pound state title a year ago as a sophomore — in dominating fashion mind you with two technical fall wins, a major decision and commanding 10-6 win in the state finals — Sonntag has been flawless this season. He goes to state with a 23-0 record.
But this year's 126-pound bracket is flat-out the best of any bracket at any state tournament. Sonntag's resume is good enough for just a No. 4 ranking ahead of the state meet.
The Tonganoxie standout is one of four wrestlers at 126 pounds with a state title to their credit. Winfield's Braden Ledford was the 113-pound champion in 2019 before taking second last year. Pratt's Devon Weber and Andale's Hector Serratos each have two state championships with Serratos beating Ledford for the 126 title last year after winning at 120 in 2019 and Weber going 79-1 the past two seasons winning titles at 113 (2020) and 106 (2019).
Now that's loaded.
With the name Treaster in Newton and Ball in Hoisington, chances are you're not only a wrestler, but a darn good one. In fact, a state championship-caliber one.
That's a lot to live up to for Newton's Nick Treaster and Hoisington's Joshua Ball as they head to their respective state tournaments.
Treaster already has carved his spot out in his family's legacy that saw older brothers Grant and Logan combine to win three state titles (Logan at 113 pounds in 2015; Grant at 113 pounds in 2018 and 120 pounds in 2019). Last year, Nick captured the Class 5A 106 pound title as a freshman.
This year, he's ranked No. 1 at 106 with a 33-1 mark.
Ball, meanwhile, is No. 1 in Class 3-2-1A at 182 pounds with a 32-0 mark. Unlike Nick, however, he's still seeking his first state championship, taking third at 170 last year, fifth as a sophomore and sixth at 160 as a freshman.
His family history is even richer. Oldest brother Brandon Ball was a four-time state champion from 2012-15, while Jonathan won a title in 2017 and Christopher won three straight from 2016-18.
Kings of 5A
At his team's Class 5A sub-state Shawnee Heights emphatically claimed that Class 5A wrestling was simply on a different level than the rest of the state.
There's something to that statement.
Goddard is the reigning power, having won six straight team championships. Last year, the Lions won the title by a whopping 33.5 points.
With a 5A-high 10 qualifiers this year, Goddard once again is poised to add to their crown collection.
But they do have competition. Mill Valley dropped down to Class 5A this year after taking the Class 6A state championship last season. The Jaguars, led by two-time state champion Ethan Kremer, match Goddard with 10 qualifiers.
Will Goddard reign end or are the Lions still kings of the 5A jungle?
Big-time big man
Ethan Kremer arguably was the state's top football player this past season, leading Mill Valley to a second straight Class 5A state championship as a dominating two-way presence on the Jaguars' offensive and defensive lines.
He can also make a case for being one of, if not the, state's top wrestlers. Already a two-time state champion, Kremer will be going for title No. 3 Friday at the Class 5A state tournament in Wichita.
Kremer captured the 220-pound Class 6A state title as a sophomore to cap a 43-7 season. Last year, he moved up to 285 pounds and won again, this time finishing the season with a 28-2 record.
Mill Valley moved down to Class 5A this season, but Kremer has remained dominant. He's ranked No. 1 with a 17-1 mark.
Going for perfection
A whopping 37 wrestlers take undefeated records to their respective state tournaments this season as COVID-19 concerns limited travel and reduced or canceled many of the big-time regular-season tournaments across the state.
Class 5A has the most unbeatens with a whopping 11. Four weight classes have multiple perfect records with 126 pounds featuring 38-0 Alyeus Craig of Valley Center and 36-0 Hayden Mills of Blue Valley Southwest, 160 pounds boasting 35-0 Caden Walker of Shawnee Heights and 33-0 Trig Tennant of Arkansas City, 195 sporting 6-0 Kaden Glass of Goddard and 19-0 Brodie Scott of Mill Valley and 220 fielding 23-0 Gavin Meyers of Hays and 17-0 Dylan Ward of Lansing.
Also undefeated in Class 5A are Bonner Springs' Cruz Lara (26-0 at 138), Goddard's Nolan Craine (30-0 at 170) and Aquinas' Jared Simma (34-0 at 182).
In Class 6A, there are seven unbeatens though none are on a collision course for each other: Dodge City's Damian Mendez (32-0 at 132), Blue Valley's Michael Solomon (5-0 at 138), Lawrence's Trey Medina (18-0 at 145), Olathe South's Blake Jouret (32-0 at 170), Wichita West's Quentin Saunders (15-0 at 182), Gardner-Edgerton's Gus Davis (26-0 at 195), Blue Valley West's Brooks Lowe (22-0 at 220)
Class 4A has 10 with two weight classes having two each: 113 pounds where Abilene's Tucker Cell is 35-0 at Chanute's Kolton Misener is 30- and 220 pounds where Louisburg's Alec Younggren is 35-0 and Andale's Cayden Winter is 19-0. Also perfect on the season in 4A are Fort Scott's Jasper Allison (37-0 at 106), Chanute's Trent Clements (31-0 at 120), Tonganoxie's Grayson Sonntag (23-0 at 126), Buhler's Sam Elliott (39-0 at 160), Augusta's Garrett Davis (33-0 at 170) and Coffeyville's Brady White (29-0 at 285).
Class 3-21-1A has nine unbeatens with Hoxie having three of them — 43-0 160-pounder Aidan Baalman, 41-0 132-pounder Drew Bell and 40-0 145-pounder Derek Johnson. There are two undefeated returning state champions at 285 with Osage City's Dane Whalen 30-0 and Sylvan-Lucas' Tra Barrientes 27-0 and two unbeatens at 182 with Hoisington's Joshua Ball 34-0 and Fredonia's Buddy Claibourn 20-0.
Also undefeated are Council Grove's Tom VanValkenburg (20-0 at 120) and Cimarron's Tate Seabolt (15-0 at 195).