Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of stories highlighting the top 10 local sports stories of 2018.

Josh Seabolt should have been hard pressed to find a way to improve on a season in which he went 38-1 and became the first ever state championship wrestler in Cimarron High School history. But after that accomplishment in 2017 at 182 pounds, Seabolt found a way to improve on an  impressive junior season, returning to the 3-2-1A state tournament after an undefeated regular season, 33-0, to win back-to-back state titles for the Bluejays in 2018.

Seabolt’s championship performance as a senior is The Telegram’s No. 7 local sports story of 2018.

 

Background

After missing out on much of his freshman season due to a football injury, Seabolt returned to his sophomore season looking to leave his mark.

While recording an impressive sophomore year, Seabolt’s title chase came to an end when he lost in the state semifinals, before finishing in fifth on the backside of the bracket.

Not wanting to feel that pain again, Seabolt rode a wave of momentum into his junior year, winning Cimarron’s first ever individual state wrestling title.

For his senior season, Seabolt moved up a weight class, from 182 to 195, and just got stronger, winning every match and claiming his second state title.

 

Impact

Before Seabolt, there had not been a single Bluejay to win a state wrestling championship.

Now, the Bluejays have a pair of individual wrestlers ranked by the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association, with Josh’s brother, Tate, at No. 5 at 160 points as a sophomore, and Dylan Newton is No. 3 at 182 as a senior.

 

Key stats and figures

Seabolt’s career at Cimarron was impressive. While going undefeated his senior season, Seabolt went 72-1 in his two seasons as state champions, and 126-12 during his career at Cimarron.

As a senior, he went 37-0. At the state tournament, he won a 3-1 decision in the opening round, and then a 7-1 win in the quarterfinal, then he recorded a dominant 12-3 major decision to to reach the title round, where he faced Marion’s Tyler Palic.

In a back-and-forth match, Seabolt finally got a quick escape to tie the match at 1, and then got a quick counter for a takedown and a 3-1 lead en route to the 5-4 win.

 

Bluejays’ Seabolt caps perfect season

Editor’s note: The following story, written by sports writer Kevin Thompson, first appeared in The Telegram’s March 22 edition and is re-published below.

Cimarron’s Josh Seabolt, who won a state wrestling title at 182 pounds a year ago (Cimarron’s first in program history) became a two-time state champion in late February, this time up a weight class at 195 last month in the Class 3-2-1A tournament at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays.

The senior took out Tyler Palic for the second time this season, defeating the Marion wrestler 5-2 to remain undefeated in his final season.

Seabolt (33-0) and Palic (25-5) were scoreless after the opening period, and Palic got the quick escape to open the second period.

For going through the season with an unblemished record, Seabolt has been named The Garden City Telegram’s Wrestler of the Year.

In the final period, Seabolt got a quick escape to tie the match with 1:35 to go. He got a quick counter for a take down at 1:05 to go up 3-1.

After a restart, Seabolt, from the up position, grabbed Palic’s leg and rode his back, whistled for a potentially dangerous position that led to another restart with 32 seconds to go.

Palic got an escape with 26 seconds to wrestle, but rather than ride out the rest of the match, Seabolt pulled an unexpected takedown to go up 5-2, giving up an inconsequential reversal at the end to win 5-4.

The Cimarron senior raised both index fingers to the sky, calmly walked to the Marion corner to shake hands, and then celebrated his second state title with his coach Lance Walker in the opposite corner.

“He’s just so focused,” Walker said in an interview just hours after Seabolt’s win. “He doesn’t make many mistakes. I knew when he got up (3-1) by that take down, there was a very good chance we were going to win it. He wrestled a really, really smart match.”

Maybe because it was his second title, but Seabolt admits he didn’t seem as exuberant as he did in 2017.

“It wasn’t as — surreal, I guess,” he said, searching for the right word. “The first one was the first (title) in school history. I wanted to do it for the town.”

Title two was for the town again, but it was really something he wanted this time for himself and for his family, he said.

“Another reason is that I didn’t score as many points as I thought I could have,” Seabolt added. “That’s wrestling.”

No pins in this year’s state, some closer matches, score-wise. But it did cap a perfect season, something he thought would be possible going into regionals. But perfection wasn’t his goal.

“My biggest goal was not to be taken down,” he explained. “I did achieve that goal, and that’s what I’m most proud of this season.”

This was Seabolt’s second title at two different weight classes, and the senior said he preferred the 195-pound division over 182.

“I got bigger this year. The kids are a little heavier and slower on their feet,” he said. “That’s where I really excelled because I’m quick with my hands and low shot attacks, which is really tough for the bigger kids to defend.”

It also meant he hardly had to cut any weight, compared to last year where he was cutting more. “I felt a lot better this year,” Seabolt said.

Seabolt suffered just one major injury in his high school career, a broken collar bone in football as a freshman on what proved to be the game-winning score that propelled his Bluejays into the playoffs over Lakin, but enough to keep him out of wrestling until shortly before regionals.

He qualified for state that year but didn’t place.

It’s a moment he thought about over the next three seasons, he said, using it as motivation over the next three years.

But maybe more than that, it was what happened at state in his sophomore year that impacted him even more.

“I was so close to making the finals, so close,” he said about a semifinal loss that he felt he had won.

“After that match, I cried, to be honest. I cried for the rest of the night. You work so hard, train so hard. It was heartbreaking.”

He came through on the back side, losing a 6-4 decision that put him the fifth-place match, which he won with a 24-second pin.

But the feeling of that semifinal loss, as heartbreaking as it was, was not wasted.

“That night I was talking with my dad. I told him I didn’t ever want to feel like that ever again,” Seabolt said.

His dad told him that night, “Well, let’s do something about that.”

During his junior year, when he felt a bit down about his wrestling in mid-season, he said his father reminded him of that awful feeling from the previous year.

“Keep working; keep working. Keep pushing yourself,” he said his dad would remind him.

“I didn’t want to feel like that ever again,” Seabolt admitted. “So I kept pushing myself harder and harder, and it worked out.”

It worked out to be the first state title in Cimarron wrestling history.

Seabolt finished his high school career with 126 wins against just 12 losses. ...

“It’s a pretty good way to end (his career),” coach Walker said after Seabolt’s second state title. “And it was a pretty fun ride as a coach, too. I’m not going to lie.”