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Rocket Athletics

This Week In Rocket Varsity Sports

Boys Basketball

February 28th
Sub State @ Andale
7:00 pm

Rockets Finish 2nd In Class 4A

After placing 2nd behind Andale in the Regional Tournament the previous week, the Rockets traveled to Salina for the two-day State Tournament with hopes of bringing home the school’s first ever team state championship in wrestling. As the early weights got underway, the Rockets jumped to the top of the team scores. However, Andale proved to be strong in the middle weights and closed the gap and eventually passed the Rockets. Then as the upper weights were wrestled, the Rockets closed the gap and eventually passed the Indians in the team score through the early weights of the championship quarterfinals. The Indians repeated what they had done in the first round and again jumped to the top of the standings. The Rockets then suffered a couple of upsets, one late in the quarterfinals and one early in the championship semifinals. Meanwhile, Andale continued cruising through their brackets and built what proved to be an insurmountable lead. At the end of wrestling on Friday, the Indians had scored 142 team points while the Rockets had scored a very respectable 105 points. While catching Andale on Saturday was still possible, it would require the Rockets to win nearly every match and see the Indians suffer a number of upsets. The Rockets also needed to be aware of challenges for 2nd place from Augusta and Paola, who were both within range of jumping up to 2nd place. The tournament ended exactly the same way as the Regional Tournament, with the Indians in 1st place followed by the Rockets and then the Orioles. The Indians took home the state championship trophy with 163 team points; the Rockets took home the state runner-up trophy with 146.5 team points and the Orioles claimed the 3rd place trophy with 127 team points. Two Rocket state qualifiers, Boeden Whitted at 132 lbs. and Tyren Emberson at 157 lbs., both suffered losses in the first round and then again in the 1st round of consolations to be eliminated without scoring any team points for the Rockets. Johnny Leck, the Defending State Champion at 106 lbs., cruised into the finals winning by a technical fall, a fall, and a major decision to score 22.5 team points for the Rockets. In the State Championship match, Leck faced Brock Johnson from Paola, who entered the match with a 41-2 record on the year. It was an excellent wrestling match between two excellent wrestlers that could have gone either way. This time, it went Johnson’s way as he recorded a 4-2 victory over Leck to claim the 106 lb. State Championship. Adam Bilby entered the tournament as the #1 ranked wrestler in Class 4A at 113 lbs. Bilby won both his first-round match and quarterfinal matches by falls to advance to the championship semifinals. However, disaster struck in the semifinal when Bilby was upset on a controversial call at the end of the 3rd period resulting in a 6-4 upset loss. Bilby came back strong on Saturday to win by a decision and then a technical fall in the consolation finals to claim the bronze medal for the second year in a row while scoring 19.5 team points for the Rockets. Julio Aguirre moved to Rose Hill from Oklahoma at the end of January and has made quite the impression since his arrival. Aguirre entered the tournament only having a 7-3 record since moving to Kansas. He won by a fall in the 1st round before matching up with Kaiden Powell of Paola, the #2 ranked wrestler at 120 lbs., in the quarterfinals. In an intense match, Aguirre escaped with a 1-0 victory. He then won 5-1 in the semifinals against Sammy Hershberger of Buhler to advance to the State Championship match where he would be matched up against Owen Suttles of Winfield. Suttles, the #1 ranked wrestler at 120 lbs., was responsible for two of Aguirre’s three losses since moving to Rose Hill with the loses coming by a 1-0 decision in the semifinals of the Rose Hill Invitational and then by an 8-6 decision in the Regional Final at Augusta. In another excellent back and forth championship match, Aguirre recorded a late third period takedown to win by a 5-1 decision and win the Class 4A 120 lb. State Championship while scoring 24 team points for the Rockets! At 126 lbs., Damon Ingram cruised through the front of the bracket winning by two falls and a major decision to reach the state championship match where he would again be matched up with two-time State Champion Marcus Terry of Augusta. This would be their 4th match of the season. Terry defeated Ingram 9-2 in late January in a dual at Friends University. Ingram then won the next two, both 6-4 decisions, at the Rose Hill Invitational and again in the Regional Championship match at Augusta. In another excellent back and forth match between two excellent wrestlers, Terry held on for a 3-2 decision. Ingram was working hard for either an escape or a reversal at the end of regulation but just ran out of time as Terry won his third State Championship. Ingram ended his first season as a Rocket as a state runner-up with a 36-5 record while scoring 23 team points for the Rockets at the State Tournament. At 150 lbs., Rhett Briggs placed 5th for the Rockets while scoring 12.5 team points. Briggs lost his first match to Noah Bailey of Tonganoxie by an 8-6 decision. On the consolation side of the bracket, Briggs then recorded a technical fall, a fall, and a major decision to advance to the consolation semifinals where he again would match up with Bailey. Briggs lost his 2nd match of the tournament to Bailey, this time by a 3rd period fall. Briggs then defeated Collin McDaniel of Scott City by a 6-3 decision in the 5th place match. At 215 lbs., Bronx Wood showed a lot of toughness. With a minute left in the Regional Final match against Riley Marx of Andale, Wood suffered a knee injury but he toughed it out to finish and hold on to the victory. He then limped around school and did not practice during the week trying to get the knee to a place where he could wrestle at the State Tournament. As the tournament got underway, Wood showed that he was going to be just fine for the weekend as he recorded a 0:32 fall in the first round followed up by a 0:38 fall in the quarterfinals. Wood then won a tough 3-1 decision in the semifinals against Dalton Roush of Holton, who he also defeated by fall at the Newton Tournament of Champions, to advance to the State Championship match where he would again be matched up against Riley Marx of Andale. Two of the best wrestlers at 215 lbs. in Class 4A, Wood and Marx had matched up four times this season with Wood winning all of them. Wood won by a fall in their first match up in a dual at Rose Hill in December, then won by a 7-2 decision at the Newton Tournament of Champions in January followed up by an 18-6 major decision at the Rose Hill Invitational in early February. Their fourth match was the Regional Final where Wood had to hold on for the 8-7 decision after suffering the knee injury. The State Championship match proved to be the crowning achievement for Wood as he put Marx on his back in the 2nd period to record the fall and claim the Class 4A 215 lb. State Championship while scoring 28 team points for the Rockets! Milan Colvin, last year’s State Runner-Up at 285 lbs., had his sights set on claiming the gold this season. Colvin started well recording a 0:17 fall in the first round. However, Colvin was then upset in the Quarterfinals as he lost a 2-1 decision to Jake Eddington of Columbus. On the consolation side of the bracket, Colvin then recorded two decisions and a major decision to advance to the 3rd place match where he would once again face Willy Jon Morales of Augusta. Many wrestling fans thought this would be the state championship match, but both were upset on the front side of the bracket. Colvin and Morales had faced each other three times earlier in the season. Colvin won a 4-2 overtime decision at the Augusta Invitational in January. Morales then won the next match, again in overtime, by a 3-1 decision at the Rose Hill Invitational in early February. Colvin won the third matchup by a 3-2 decision in the Regional Final at Augusta. The State 3rd place match followed the same set up as Colvin and Morales again went to overtime where Colvin recorded a takedown to earn the 3-1 overtime victory and take home the bronze medal while scoring 17 team points for the Rockets. Assistant Coach James Bilby stated, “Our guys really battled adversity all season through sickness and injury. We didn't have our team healthy until the final run as it was the first time since the Wellington tournament.  In a state tournament like this, I feel they battled as you wrestle the front side of the bracket for yourself, and once hearts and dreams are broken it is hard to come back and battle.  Adam, Milan, and Rhett battled for the team and kept us in until the end.  That’s hard to do after dreams are crushed.  It was amazing to see Bronx and Julio finish strong and yet heart breaking for Johnny and Damon.  We are young, deep, and we will be back.  The 2023-2024 season started Sunday morning while most were sleeping.” Head Coach Chris Saferite stated, “We wrestled a good tournament; it was not perfect but rarely ever is. We won some big matches and lost some big matches. You always want the matches back that you lost; however, it doesn't work that way. We had high expectations going in and it will be the same high expectations next year. We wrestled well; Andale just wrestled better. At the end of the day, we scored the 5th highest points in 4A history, but we ended up in second. I am super proud of all of our dudes. Bronx won one as a senior, Julio won one as a freshman, Johnny and Damon lost heartbreakers but probably two of the best matches all night. For Adam, Milan and Rhett to come back the way they did on Saturday and finish where they finished speaks volumes of their character and I am proud of that. I am proud of each and every one of the guys and I would take them anywhere and compete with anyone. Our kids, our coaches, our administrators, our school and our fans are all part of this. Hopefully, it is just the beginning.”