JUNCTION CITY — It was a tale of redemption for Jordan Price.
The senior wrestler finally got clicking on all cylinders Saturday evening, showing those in attendance at the Junction City wrestling regional just how good he can be at full strength.
Price, wrestling at 195, was one of two individual champions and 11 wrestlers advancing through to next week’s state wrestling meet in Wichita.
Price’s injuries have kept him off the mat for most of the wrestling season. He was cleared to start wrestling in late January. Once he was cleared to wrestle, he had to deal with a shoulder injury that again slowed him down. He went 1-1 in last week’s Centennial League meet before head coach Robert Gonzales decided to pull him, much to his frustration.
“It was real frustrating, because Coach Gonzo said it was Centennial so it wasn’t as big a deal,” Price said. “He took me off before I could go for third and fourth. He said this weekend, I could power through any pain, and I did, and it was great to come back and get a championship.”
Gonzales said he wanted to make sure Price was healthy for Saturday’s win-or-go-home situation, and the move paid off. Price won 10-6 against James Denton of Junction City to take first place.
Wrestling JV last year behind state champion Ty Suggs, Price didn’t get the chance to compete for a spot at the state meet. He said after Austin Chauncey beat Junction City’s Devonte Wilson, he figured he could do it too.
“They had a ton of momentum, then Austin came in and beat them, so I said alright, if Austin can do beat ‘em, so can I,” Price said. “We both did and it feels good.”
At 160, Chauncey wrestled Wilson in the finals in a tightly contested match. Chauncey had an early lead, but let Wilson back in the match late. Chauncey won with a quick takedown in overtime, however, to earn Manhattan’s first championship of the day. Up until then, Manhattan was 0-5 in championship matches, four of which came against the Blue Jays. All in all, Manhattan had five second-place finishes to go with its pair of champions.
“It didn’t start out so good,” Gonzales said. “But that was a great way to end the day. I’m really happy for Jordan.”
With 11 qualifying for state next week, Manhattan had a good day across the board.
The Indians got usual results from its top eight scorers, but saw a boost in its score with some extra guys qualifying and some injured wrestlers returning to the mat.
“Sending 11 guys on, we only brought 12 over today, so it’s a good day for us,” Gonzales said. “And we get a trophy here today. I’m really proud of the way our guys battled.”
Darrion Taylor at 106 earned a state berth with a fourth-place finish, qualifying despite winning just one match on the consolation side of the bracket. Manhattan also got CJ Mooreman-Meador qualified for state with a fourth-place finish at 220.
In the championship round, Stone ran into a powerhouse in Wichita Heights sophomore Sean DeShazer, who is undefeated on the year and ranked No. 1 in 6A. Stone was unable to get a takedown, losing 14-6.
At 120, Clemens got a rematch with Junction City’s Kevin Perez in a matchup of 1 vs. 2 in the Class 6A rankings. The match stayed close the whole way, but Perez got a takedown with less than a minute in the third round to put it out of reach, winning 7-4.
Mullin at 138, still wearing a facemask to protect stitches on his face, advanced to the championship round to face Ezio Voeghtly of Junction City. Mullin fell 6-2 to take second.
Matthews at 145 got another shot at Andrew Milsap of Junction City, but couldn’t get the edge on his familiar opponent, falling by major decision, 16-7 to take second.
Leeper at 152 also wrestled a familiar face in Jeryl Denton. But Denton had the upperhand from the start, making quick work of Leeper with a win by fall in 0:20.
Dallas Vesta fell to Washburn Rural’s Sebastion Cuffel in the second round to put him in the consolation bracket. He rebounded with a pin and a 4-1 decision in the consolation finals over Wichita Heights’ Greg Jones to take third.
At 170, Michael Forshee pinned Wichita Heights’ Dalton Haskins twice, once in the first round and again in the consolation finals to take third.
The state meet begins on Friday morning in Wichita at Hartman Arena, with gates opening to the general public at 8 a.m. for the first round.