By CONOR NICHOLL
The 4-1A girls’ wrestling tournament had a prohibitive favorite in Pratt and a likely runner-up in Hoisington. However, the third place finisher and final team trophy was expected to be a close race between multiple teams, including Columbus, Prairie View, Wellington, Oskaloosa and Lakin.
Pratt basically had the team title locked up after Day 1 on Wednesday and finished the competition last Thursday with 111 points. Hoisington delivered a second-place finish with 67 points.
Columbus edged a group for third with 60 points. It marked the first top-three finish and team trophy for any Titan girls’ program since 1999, per KSHSAA archives. Columbus earned second in state softball in ’98 and ’99. The Titans won seven girls’ golf titles from ’90-99.
Since 1999, the only other Columbus team to finish in the top-3 for any sport was football’s state runner-up in ’14. While some of the other contenders for third had more state titlists, Columbus moved from sixth after Day 1 to third after Day 2 on the backside. Columbus girls met their goals of a regional title and state plaque.
Prairie View finished a point behind in fourth in the competition held at Tony’s Pizza Events Center in Salina. All three of PV’s wrestlers placed. Senior Alyssa Page (32-4) was second at 155. Senior Kylee Eastwood (33-5) won the championship in overtime at 170. Whitley Cox-Haliburton (13-9) took sixth at 235.
Lakin, paced by state championships from standout sisters Josiah and Isabell Ortiz, took fifth at 52. Oskaloosa won two individual titles and delivered 50 points. Wellington had an unfortunate occurrence when defending state champion Anna Cullens, perfect this season, didn’t make weight and couldn’t compete. The Crusaders earned seventh with 46 points, .5 ahead of Burlington. Chanute was ninth at 43 points.
Last year, Columbus tied for 31st with 16 points at state with three qualifiers reaching the final eight.
Before state this season, Columbus had won the Chanute regional by a 161.5-114 margin over Eureka.
Addison Saporito, who took third last season, again finished third with a 28-2 record at 109 pounds. This was possibly the most decorated bracket of any in 4-1A. She lost, 4-1, to Lakin’s Josiah Ortiz in the semifinals. A Team Kansas wrestler, Josiah finished 32-0.
That marked Addison’s only loss to a Kansas wrestler this winter. Two years ago, she was Columbus’ lone state qualifier at the all-classes inaugural state meet.
On the backside last week, Saporito defeated Burlington’s Eowynn Reynard, 4-3. In the third-place match, Saporito pinned Oakley’s Citori Bosserman in 1:53. Reynard entered state third all-time in Kansas for victories. Bosserman was the defending state champion at 101 pounds. Saporito stands at 69-18 in her last three seasons. She scored 19.5 points.
As well, Brooklyn Lima (25-10) earned fourth at 138 pounds. She lost in the semifinals to Hoxie’s Marissa Porsch, the eventual state champion. Jailyn Rodriguez (22-14) took sixth at 143. She lost her first match to Circle’s Katelyn Schmidt, who earned state runner-up. Then, Rodriguez earned three backside wins that helped the Titans secure the third-place finish.
Grace Noel (15-16) went 2-2 at 101 pounds. Sophie Lloyd (22-9) went 1-2 at 120, including a 5-1 loss to Pratt’s Jadyn Thompson, who finished first. At 126, Madelyn Garcia (22-14) went 1-2. At 132, Aubree Saporito (20-17) finished 2-2. Emily Welch (19-10) was 0-2 at 155.
Welch is the lone senior. None of the qualifiers were freshmen. Noel, Lloyd, Garcia and Lima are sophomores. Aubree and Addison are juniors, along with Rodriguez. Columbus had eight pins, which was fourth in the field and helped the Titans earn third.
Marcus Bowman coaches Columbus wrestling and called the season “really enjoyable just as a whole” on the SIK All-Access Show recently. The Titans started with around 12 or 13 boys and 12 girls.
Columbus, featured on SIK several times this winter, split practices for the first time this season, the third year that KSHSAA sponsored girls’ wrestling. That has become more of a common practice. Bowman said the split causes for a longer night for the coaches, though helps with efficiency.
Once a week, Columbus tried to have all team practices to still form the camaraderie between the boys and girls. Bowman, a Columbus graduate, has coached the Titans since 2016. Columbus boys won four state titles from ’86-96. He graduated from Columbus in 2004. In his four years of high school, Columbus went seventh, third, second and fourth at state.
The boys had four state qualifiers: Korbyn Newberry (21-14 at 106), Trenton Smith (29-12 at 152), Jacob Scibor (20-13 at 160), and Jake Eddington (24-9 at 285). Smith earned his 100th career victory. Eddington had the best finish with a 2-2 showing.