Every single practice and every single meet that Marty Verhaeghe has attended in his four years with the Blue Valley Southwest wrestling team were instantly rewarded as he touched the Eastern Kansas League trophy with his teammates on Saturday.
And appropriately so, since his success in the 126-pound weight class was a big factor in delivering that moment.
He needed just seven minutes, 28 seconds to win three matches by fall, take the title and deliver the first Eastern Kansas League championship in any sport for the Timberwolves. The school opened in August 2010 and Verhaeghe has not missed a practice or a meet in his four years.
“I’ve been to every single one and it feels good when this happens,” Verhaeghe said. “Hard work pays off.”
With two meets remaining in his senior campaign, Verhaeghe has already cemented himself in Timberwolves history as the all-time wins leader. He is 26-1 after the weekend with a victory by fall in three minutes, eight seconds against Gardner Edgerton’s Jacob Bonham in the championship.
“As a coach you have very few guys who come through your room and make you feel blessed, but I am blessed to have Marty Verhaeghe even in my program,” sixth-year Timberwolves coach Cody Parks said. “He has never missed a practice or a meet in his high school career and is our all-time wins leader. He is the most humble human being I have ever been around and he pushes us to do better.”
The Timberwolves were well represented in the finals with eight wrestlers battling for first place. Verhaeghe and two others succeeded: Justin Williams won the 113-pound weight class and Riley McCall won at 120 pounds. Joseph Dennison, Jake Willson, Matthew Stack, Zach Glynn, Michael Stack and Cordel Duhart took second.
“We knew coming in that we had a pretty good chance, but we didn’t have a heavyweight,” Parks said. “Guys from some other teams won big matches so we got some help.”
Blue Valley Southwest narrowly escaped defending champion and host Blue Valley Northwest, which finished just two points behind. The Huskies were led by four-time EKL champion Sam Elliott, who won the 132-pound weight class when Willson forfeited.
Jason Laramore, Garret Tierney, Max Tierney and Blake Johnson each added titles in the 138, 160, 170 and 220-pound weight classes, respectively, for the Huskies.
Gardner Edgerton’s Drake Taysom (106 pounds), Blue Valley’s Garrhett Hurst (145), Blue Valley’s Tanner Madl (152), Blue Valley North’s Ryan Klepper (182), St. Thomas Aquinas’ Anthony Gaona (195) and Gardner Edgerton’s Edrick Rouse (285) were also individual champions.