By CONOR NICHOLL
Special to The Telegram
HAYS — Scott City High School had just won the Class 3-2-1A championship with 93.5 points. When the public address announcer declared the Beavers the team champion, senior 285-pounder Luke Hayes, wearing a big smile, ran out towards the center of the mat to collect the trophy.
A few feet before he reached the mat, Hayes suddenly stopped. He turned and looked at Scott City 132-pound senior Clay Mulligan, who walked a few steps behind. Hayes went over to Mulligan. The pair clasped hands and hugged. Then, Hayes and Mulligan, with the team following, walked onto the mat together to collect the trophy.
Hayes' act encapsulated the Beavers' season. Hayes and Mulligan, both defending state champions, led Scott City on the mat.
"It felt really sweet," Hayes said.
Hayes was the Beavers' lone team champion when he finished 36-0, including three falls in four state matches.
"You get a lot of pressure put on you," Hayes said of going undefeated. "I got a lot of pressure relieved when I reached the final."
Mulligan, last year's champion at 112 pounds, enjoyed a 39-3 season and took second at 132 pounds when he lost to Fredonia's Brogan Humphrey, 3-1, in the championship. However, the entire team assisted in the run. Scott City scored 93.5 points, 15.5 ahead of runner-up Hoisington. Hoxie finished third with 77.5 points.
"We put our whole season around that," Hayes said of state. "We knew what we wanted and we got it."
It marked the fourth state crown in coach Jon Lippelmann's 32 years. The Beavers had won Class 4A titles in 1990, 1994 and 2004. As well, Holcomb junior Keegan Amos took third at 113 pounds.
"[Class] 3-2-1A is fun," Lippelmann said. "It is our region. We wrestled a lot of teams here and a lot of this classification is around here. Not that there isn't studs other places, but when you are doing 4A, we are doing four or five, and the rest are all east. We don't see them week by week. We might see one or two of those teams at a different tournament."
"So it's really nice," he added. "I was brought up in Oberlin, so I have been with these guys, wrestled the same time as quite a few of these coaches."
Freshman James Jurgens (30-13) enjoyed a surprising run to the final and took second at 113 pounds. Scott City also had two fifth-place finishes by 120-pound junior Alex Kough (29-5) and 220-pound junior Michael McEachern (18-8).
"My teammates are great," Hayes said.
Senior 170-pounder Manny Turner was the lone Beaver who didn't place, but came one match short. Turner, considered a great leader and the heart of the team, brought tears to Lippelmann's eyes.
"Manny hasn't done a lot of the things that some of these kids have," Lippelmann said. "He doesn't go to camps. He wrestles for us three months that we have wrestling each year, but there is nobody that is going harder and there is nobody that is leading the young ones and showing them not to complain and get in there and do that."
Scott City — decked in its traditional bleached blonde hair — had been one of the top teams in Class 3-2-1A for the last several years. But Hoxie, Norton and Smith Center had combined to win the last 10 titles, including the past two from Norton.
"Just been out of any of the trophies," Lippelmann said of the Beavers' success at 3-2-1A. "We have had some good fellas before, but there has been some great Norton and Hoxie teams when we have been sliding up and down and we have knocked some of their kids out and they knocked enough of our kids out and we didn't get her done. Well, not this year and I don't know if we was any more powerful. The moon was right. Things were working and my kids were ready."
This winter, the Beavers were part of a large contingent of teams who believed they had a chance at a title. Scott City separated itself from the pack with 75.5 first day points, 18.5 ahead of Hoisington. The Beavers maintained their lead through the backside and had the championship secured before the finals. Hayes, the defending champion at 215 pounds, put the finishing touches on the title when he pinned Sabetha senior Trevin Edelman in 2 minutes, 34 seconds in the day's last match.