Both the Holcomb and Lakin wrestling programs had just one entry in the state Class 3-2-1A wrestling tournament, but the Longhorns and Broncs made them count.
Holcomb’s Tanner Johnson (182 pounds) and Lakin’s Hadley Panzer (285) both fought their way through the front side of their brackets to qualify for a shot at a state championship Saturday afternoon.
Cimarron’s Tate Seabolt also made the finals at 160 pounds, the only Bluejay of three entries to do so.
With only seven area wrestlers at Gross Memorial Coliseum on the campus of Fort Hays State University, three will be going for gold Saturday.
Seabolt (33-3) recorded three pins in his journey to the title match at 160 pounds.
The Cimarron sophomore got a quick fall (1:29) in his semifinal win over Gavon Uehlin of Oberlin.
Seabolt picked up late falls in his opening rounds. He first took out Aaron Moss of Smith Center (5:18) and then got Cael Burke of Cottonwood Falls at 5:28 in his quarterfinal match.
Seabolt will face Hoxie senior and three-time champion (145 pounds last year, 132 in 2017 and 120 in 2016) Dayton Porsch in the title matchup. Porsch also recorded three pins (25 seconds, 2:22, and 2:23) on his path to the championship match.
At 182 pounds, Johnson picked up an 8-3 decision over previously undefeated Tyson Villalpando of Minneapolis.
Johnson (30-1) got an early takedown in the second round and another one with 20 seconds to go to take a 4-1 lead heading into the third period.
The Longhorn senior got a quick reversal to start the final period and another with 20 seconds left to get the win.
Johnson opened the tournament with a 16-0 technical fall over Braden Burks of Beloit, and followed that with a fall (3:38) over Eli King of Oskaloosa.
This is Johnson’s fourth trip to state, but he did not place the previous three times (Class 4A).
Lakin junior Hadley Panzer continued his undefeated season with a 4-2 tie-breaker win over the state’s top-ranked Elliot Strahm of Sabetha, handing the senior his first loss of the season.
It also avenged a semifinal loss to Strahm (3-1 in sudden victory) as Strahm went on to claim a state title last year.
Panzer, who went on to finish third last year, started in the down position in the second round, getting an escape to go up 1-0.
Strahm answered with an escape in the third period to equalize.
Neither scored in the first overtime. Panzer started down in the first 30-second overtime, getting an escape 15 seconds in.
In the next 30-second period, Strahm got an escape at :22, but Panzer went on the offensive and got a takedown at :06 to get the win.
Panzer (38-0) will face Eyann Zimmerman of Republic County in the finals. Zimmerman (40-4) recorded three falls on his path to the title match.
Other area wrestlers
Of the four other area wrestlers, Cimarron’s Dylan Newton came within one match of facing Johnson in the finals of 182 pounds.
The Bluejays senior got a first-round decision (8-3) over Brell Spiess of Smith Center and followed that with a fall (1:07) over Chase Owen of Strong City.
In his semifinal, Newton faced Kory Finley of Colby, falling 7-3.
Finley got an escape and takedown to go up 3-1 in the second period and recorded two more takedowns in the third to get the win.
Newton (32-3) moved back to the consolation semifinals.
Cimarron teammate Adam McPhail (126 pounds) is still alive on the backside. The senior dropped his first match by fall (1:46) but won in the consolation round over Jarrett Angle of Anthony by fall (1:33).
He will face Drew Juenemann of Oberlin on the backside.
Wichita County had two entrants, and one is still alive in consolation.
Jesse Gardner (152 pounds) lost his opening match by fall (2:25) but picked up a 6-3 decision over Calvan Brown of St. Mary’s.
Teammate Jesse Hermosillo at 285 pounds lost both of his matches by fall.
UPDATE: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed Eyan Zimmerman's school. Zimmerman attends Republic County.