With an angry red scratch down the left side of his neck and blood in his mouth, St. James Academy senior Clay Lautt bounded off the Class 5A mat to his coaches, sat down and tried to catch his breath.
Around him, Hartman Arena buzzed as another Kansas state wrestling match ended on the 6A side Saturday evening.
But none of that mattered. Lautt, a 182-pound senior, had just won his third straight state title — and at the same time earned the Thunder its 20th individual championship since St. James opened 12 years ago.
Lautt combined with senior Sammy Cokeley, who had added to the pile of St. James gold medals minutes earlier. Cokeley won his second straight championship in the 160-pound division by defeating senior and returning state champion Kendall Frame of Goddard.
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“Seeing him win was really special,”said Lautt, who beat Newton sophomore Wyatt Hendrickson. “He had command in the finals, so his win was probably a bit more special than mine. I kind of rallied off that win. He propelled me.”
Leavenworth’s Butler ends season undefeated
The Butler family isn’t short on gold medals. Nathan Butler, a redshirt junior at Stanford, was a three-time state wrestling champion at Leavenworth.
Now brother Daniel, a senior for the Pioneers, has finally followed in his path. Daniel Butler, who was undefeated this season, kept a perfect record in the 170-pound classification and defeated Goddard sophomore Troy Fisher to win the 5A title.
“I’ve had a fire in my belly for a long time,” Butler said. “That kept me going.”
Butler hadn’t had a chance to stake his claim on the family trophy case in the past. He missed the state finals his freshman year because of an illness, cut short his sophomore season after injuring a knee and spent his junior season recovering from knee surgery.
“The last state title (Leavenworth) had was from my brother,” he said. “I get to go home and watch him on TV tomorrow. This is fantastic, but he won three of these. I don’t think I have any bragging rights.”
▪ St. Thomas Aquinas sophomore Bret Minor (113 pounds), Mill Valley senior Dylan Gowin (120) and Blue Valley Southwest junior Cordel Duhart (220) were other Kansas City-area wrestlers who won 5A state titles Saturday.
Olathe North’s gold-medal club
The Eagles weren’t able to make history Saturday by winning the first team trophy in Olathe North history.
But they took home gold medals in four of their five championship matches and finished fourth in the Class 6A team battle with 142.5 points.
“I’ve worked for this since I was 9 years old. I’ve placed every year but hadn’t won it yet,” said Riley Alderman, a senior who won the 132-pound title. “Me and my coach talked about this. It was my dream, and we got it done.”
After winning, Alderman wasted no time winding a path out of the arena, up the bleachers and across a row full of Olathe South fans — who stuck around to cheer on their 170-pound winner Nick Jouret — to find his mom. They embraced for a solid 10 seconds, then Alderman continued a jog onto the concourse to celebrate with his father.
“My parents are my everything,” he said. “I just ran up there and gave my dad a hug and told him, ‘We did it.’ He’s been my coach since I was little and he’s taught me everything I know.”
Alderman had plenty to celebrate this weekend. With his gold medal, he set an Olathe North record with 137 career wins, beating head coach Josh Carroll’s previous record by four.
The teammates who celebrated titles with Alderman were:
▪ Senior Tyler Flood, who defeated returning state champion Tate Steele of Lawrence Free State in the semifinals on his way to the 138-pound title. Steele placed fourth after missing the consolation semifinals because of an injury.
▪ Junior Jevon Parrish, who won the 126-pound championship.
▪ Junior Terrell Garaway, the champion at 160 pounds.
4A state champions
Four Kansas City-area wrestlers won state championships.
They were Paola freshman Preston Martin (106 pounds), Bonner Springs senior Tanner Hitchcock (126), Basehor-Linwood senior Corbin Nirschl (132) and Bonner Springs sophomore Caleb Willis (220).