FEATURE: Pinning Their Way Into the History Books

Coming out of a state winning group last year, the Free State boys wrestling team aspires to pin their way to repeat history
Junior Brayden Wilcox prepares to take on his opponent at the first home boys varsity wrestling meet of the season. The Firebirds came out on top, winning 54-24 overall.
Junior Brayden Wilcox prepares to take on his opponent at the first home boys varsity wrestling meet of the season. The Firebirds came out on top, winning 54-24 overall.
Chloe Cook

In the face of fierce competition, the Free State boys wrestling team exemplified their determination to carry the program’s legacy after placing eight as a team and having two wrestlers earn the state title in last year’s state championship. This year, however, they are looking to make history repeat itself.

For a program to have reached such a high caliber, pressure was one of the greatest challenges they had to face. But according to head coach Randy Streeter, pressure is what creates a diamond—a champion. Not only do they want to repeat history to procure that champion this year, they also want to make this year a memorable one.

Under the supervision of Randy Streeter, the program has set winning standards during the past couple of years, producing state champions and even going as far as having Matthew Marcum, a former Free State wrestler, win the National High School Athletic Coaches Association national championship.

This year, however, is different for the Firebird Grapplers. Coming from a state-winning group, they find themselves having a team composed of primarily junior athletes after former senior wrestlers graduated. Randy Streeter said that this year’s varsity team is one of the youngest he has ever coached. According to him, they are looking to build the team to improve for next year.

Preparing to get a pin, senior D’onte Goodman holds down his opponent from Dodge City at the varsity wrestling meet on Dec 8. (Chloe Cook )

“We just need to keep rebuilding and keep producing state places and champs,” Randy Streeter said.

With the state championship coming up on Feb. 22, Randy Streeter said that it will be interes

ting to see how the team will perform with regards to being part of the West region, which has 70% of all ranked Kansan high school wrestlers.

In preparation for the championship, he said makes sure that the team is immersed in good competition every week.

“Our schedule is pretty good for that,” Randy Streeter said. “We’ve been wrestling out in the west [region] for the last few weekends, so we’ve been running into a lot of good competition.”

Furthermore, Randy Streeter said that going into state is a collective effort by the team and noted some key contributors: juniors Grayson Hagen, Drew Streeter, Gabe Swoyer and senior D’onte Goodman will be wrestlers to keep an eye on.

Varsity wrestler Hagen, with a record of 25 wins and four losses this season, as of Jan. 16, is optimistic for both him and the team. Having a goal of winning and coming out strong while being contenders for the state championship is what he hopes this season will result in for the team.

“We have really switched up our work ethic, and we are going a lot harder in the room this year. We’re all putting in 110%,” Hagen said. “I want to win the state championship.”

On the mat, sophomore Zane Shaw circles his opponent at the beginning of a match. (Mallory Thompson)

Being one of the more experienced wrestlers on the team, it means a lot to Hagen to be part of it.

He said he applauds his fellow juniors for what they have done to become role models and developa brotherly bond.

“All of us are really close. It’s like we are a family. We’re really tight,” Hagen said. “We’ve grown a lot closer.

We’ve lost a lot of our big leaders but a lot of our juniors have done a good job stepping into those roles.”

As far as adding records to the book and contending to win the state championship, Hagen, who has been part of the team for three years, recently pinned his way onto the “100 win club” next to the names of five other former Free State wrestlers.

Randy Streeter is confident that the program will have a successful future with youthful talent embracing the Free State name. He added that he thinks what has made the program get to where it is right now is the acronym RISE – Resilience, Improvement, Sacrifice and Effort. With dedicated efforts during the off-season, Streeter believes that the team’s return to the mat next year will be exciting.

“Next year might be one of the greatest years in the history of the school, ” Streeter said.


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