ERIE — Erie High School’s wrestling program participated in their first dual against Fredonia, Humboldt and Southeast high schools last Friday.
In a 2021 year that has so far taken on the same theme as 2020 because of COVID-19, much of Erie’s wrestling season has been impacted. Aside from the first week, virtually the entire month of December’s scheduled competitions were canceled or postponed.
“Everything got canceled in dealing with the quarantine and that’s pretty much it,” fifth-year Erie head coach Willie Weber said. “Quarantine just kind of killed some of the teams around. They didn’t have enough individuals to wrestle, so we wouldn’t have been able to wrestle them.”
Still, the team was able to compete in the Cherryvale Jamboree Dec. 2, when Erie went 22-2. Then the team traveled to Caney Valley High School for a varsity and girls tournament on Dec. 5. Junior Drayton Kennedy, a 106-pounder, placed second, and junior Quenten Heady, a 132-pounder, finished first.
Kennedy and Heady are two of eight wrestlers who will continue to compete as long as COVID-19 permits. And this team has a diversified skill set.
Kennedy (106) is a two-time state qualifier and is ranked third in his class. Last year, Kennedy placed second in regionals. Right now, he stands with a 6-1 record. The junior wrestles well while in the top position.
Heady (132), who is currently fifth in the state, was the regional champion last season. This year, he has an unblemished record at 7-0. Heady is tough on his legs and is consistent while he is in the top position.
Junior Nate Thompson (138) was actually at 113 pounds a year ago. At that weight, he was able to finish as a regional runner-up. Thompson wrestles sound on his feet, which has helped his 3-0 record this year.
Sophomore Cayce Welch stands with a perfect record of 3-0 for this wrestling season as well. He has that go-to attitude, and at times, sometimes doesn’t know when to stop.
Sophomore Dakota Becker (195) is 2-3 this season. He’s a good listener when he is in the corner. When it comes to competition, he has exceptional mat awareness.
Junior Brayden Yarnell (220) has not been able to wrestle this year. But when he does, he often gives up a substantial amount of weight. With his technical ability, he can many times score points on the mat no matter what kind of hold the opposing wrestler uses.
On the girls side, sophomore Breanna Ross (115, 120) is a returning state qualifier. This year, she boasts a 9-1 record, with the only losing match to the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the 115-pound weight class, Independence’s Alexis Allen. Ross is a disciplined wrestler who gives it her all. Her skills are highlighted when she is in the top position, but in the bottom position, her skills are improving.
Freshman Katie Wallace (170) worked extremely hard to cut her body weight. Skill-wise, she is very good in the top position.
These eight mat warriors are eying their next competition after Friday’s dual. Those results will be printed in the Chanute Tribune soon.
Next on the agenda for Erie wrestling is the Tri-Valley League meet in Humboldt on Saturday, Jan. 16.
“I’m just appreciating we’re just surviving this. I’m glad the kids are having matches,” Weber said. “I’m glad the kids get the opportunity to wrestle. In the beginning of the year, a lot of kids were saying we weren’t going to be able to wrestle. And it was looking pretty poor for a while with all the quarantines that were going down. But right now, I’m just glad all the kids can wrestle.”