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By Mike Mendez
Before the state finals could begin at Hartman Arena, there was the annual business of handing out hardware while the state has the wrestling community gathered in one place. And there to pick up a regional coach of the year award was Newton head coach Tommy Edgmon.
It is no small honor considering the coaching company Edgmon kept at the regional, including his own high school coach Brett Means from Goddard and Greg Buckbee from Arkansas City, both legendary coaches in the state. But when you have the kind of wrestlers the Railers have performing beyond expectations, the award makes perfect sense.
“I am honored to take that award coming out of that regional is an awesome experience,” Edgmon said. “When you look at Wyatt [Hendrickson] and [Cyle] Gautschi, both of them did not qualify for state last year. They were on the varsity lineup, but neither of them qualified. Cyle Gautschi, 220, came with a third place finish. Wyatt Hendrickson made the finals. This is something we can tell our kids in the room. You know hey, it didn’t work out for you last year, but it is a new year every year. Just because you didn’t qualify or you weren’t on the line up, these guys are prime examples of come in and work hard and you are going to win some hardware.”
To say Gautschi had a rough season last year would be an understatement. After suffering an injury early on that ended his sophomore season, Gautschi had to sit and watch his teammates from the sideline.
It was an experience that forced him into a greater appreciation and joy for the sport this year. And while coming into the state tournament in the bottom half of the 5A rankings, Gautschi made the experience count with a 4-1 win over the opponent who beat him in the regional finals Chase Holle from Valley Center to make it to the third place match. In the consolation finals, Gautschi finished his season with a 3-2 decision over DeSoto’s Caleb McQuality to rise to a third place finish at state.
“Last year, I was hoping I would be able to make it and place, but I got hurt,” Gautschi said. But I came back this year and got third. I was thinking top four and I did it. I feel real good about it. I had a tough match last night. It pushed me to the back. But I will be there next year.”
In his first year wrestling in high school, Grant Treaster also came into the tournament and finished above his ranking. Treaster entered the tournament ranked No. 5 at 106 pounds. And after a loss to Brandon Madden in the quarterfinals, he left himself a long tough road to the third place match. But with a win over TJ Miller from St. James, and a win over Jason Henschel from Goddard, he earned a match with No. 3 Hunter Bindi from St. Thomas Aquinas. After upsetting Bindi with a 6-5 decision, Treaster got a rematch with Madden and came from behind to get an 8-5 decision for a third place finish.
Though Treaster was competing in the first high school state tournament of his career, he didn’t have to look very far for experience to lean on. His dad Matt was a four-time state champion, and his brother Logan has finished at least in the top three in his previous three state tournaments.
“Wrestling might be individual, but sidelines, practice room, it is all a team sport,” Grant said. “It just matters what you do during the wrestling match, so you look for support for your sidelines. Having our coaches out there and having Logan, he is always there in the corner. He has got more experience so just look toward him.”
But in a tough revenge match for third, Grant pushed through without Logan in his corner. Trailing 4-2 after the second period, Grant had to take blood time. Logan had to run over to the other mat to begin a third-place match of his own.
Grant fought back to tie it with a takedown and turned it into a 6-4 lead with a 2-point near fall. He didn’t give it up getting his revenge on Madden and ending his first state tournament on a high.
“I have been coming for 14 years you know,” Grant said. “This is my 15th year here and I have been waiting my whole life to wrestle here. I don’t know, it is still indescribable. And I only took—only took third, but hopefully one day I will get a state title and I don’t know what words can describe that either.”