By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
For the first time in the history of the program, Pittsburg High School will host a Kansas wrestling regional today and Saturday.
“The program started in 1980, and we’ve never hosted a regional before,” Pittsburg Purple Dragons coach Scott Rieck said. “That in it of itself is exciting. Hopefully, the kids will bring their ‘A’ game to the competition. It’s an opportunity for these guys to step up their game and perform for their family and friends who will be in attendance.”
The Dragons will be hosting Anderson County, Chanute, Coffeyville, Columbus, Fort Scott, Frontenac, Independence, Iola, Labette County, Louisburg, Osawatomie, Paola, Parsons and Prairie View.
Pittsburg, which took fourth place in Class 4A last season, enters the regional with two wrestlers who are ranked in the state and another who placed at the state tournament last year.
Senior Gershom Avolos is ranked No. 2 in the state at 220 pounds and enters the regional with a 28-6 record. Senior Jeremiah Jones is ranked No. 4 at 113 pounds and boasts a 32-5 record after finishing sixth in the weight class last year.
“We have two quality seniors who have a chance to win state,” Rieck said.
Levi Kester isn’t ranked at 106 pounds, but he returns after winning last year’s regional and taking fifth in the state.
The Columbus Titans enter the 4A regional with two wrestlers ranked in the state. Both placed in last year’s state tournament.
Senior Gavin Houser is ranked third in the state at 195 pounds and finished sixth in the state last year. Houser’s toughest competion at the regional should come from Fort Scott’s No. 4 ranked John Metcalf, whom the Columbus senior has defeated twice this year.
“Gavin’s got a realistic shot of winning state if he’s on,” Columbus coach Eric Napier said.
Columbus sophomore Taylor Watkins is ranked third at 152 pounds. He placed third in last year’s state tournament at 138 pounds.
“He is 29-5,” Napier said. “He won’t see any of the guys he lost to at the state tournament.”
The regional’s most competitive weight class may be at 145 pounds as it will include three wrestlers who are ranked in the state. Fort Scott’s Jacob Durossette, Chanute’s Jared Fiscus and Prairie View’s William Holland are ranked third, fourth and sixth, respectively.
Fort Scott and Chanute are fourth and seventh, respectively, in the state team rankings.