For the second time in the program’s three-year history, the Humboldt Cubs are headed to the 3-2-1A State Wrestling Tournament in Hays.
Last weekend, seniors Noah Johnson (220-pound) and Seth Hegwald (195-pound), junior Dagen Goodner (182-pound) and sophomore Gunner Elder (126-pound) qualified for the tournament that begins at 9:30 a.m. Friday.
Last year the Cubs took three wrestlers to the tournament and nearly placed two. This year they had their hopes on six qualifying for state.
Injury and a near-miss prevented meeting that goal. But the four qualifiers prove the program continues to grow and improve even in its infancy under first-year head coach Kent Goodner.
“It’s the second straight year that we’ve gone to the tournament and because of that, our guys are seasoned,” Goodner said. “The top 16 kids in each weight class are in each bracket so it’s tough, but they know what to expect.”
As for the wrestlers, this weekend marks the culmination of all their hard work and practice this year and the last one to three years that they’ve been with the program.
“Each bracket has the top 16 wrestlers in the state so that’s kind of intimidating but at the same time, I’m one of those 16,” Johnson said. “As a senior, this is my last chance to place so why not try my hardest to make this happen?”
Elder (20-7) will open the tournament versus Bryce Younger (33-4) of Ellis, Goodner (24-8) will face Matthew Cruickshank (29-3) of St. Mary’s, Hegwald (18-12) will face Nick Davenport (26-0) of Brookville-Ell Saline and Johnson (20-8) will face Chris Cox (27-5) of Hoxie.
PHOTO: The Humboldt wrestling team state qualifiers pose several days before heading to the state tournament in Hays on Friday. From left, Dagen Goodner, Gunner Elder, head coach Kent Goodner, Noah Johnson and Seth Hegwald. Photo courtesy of Humboldt Athletics.