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Reversing History: Junior becomes first girl to qualify to state, two senior boys earn medals 

Apart+from+the+crowd%2C+Naomi+Harris+is+recognized+for+being+the+first+girl+in+the+wrestling+program+to+qualify+for+state.+%E2%80%9CStarting+this+program+for+the+girls+four+years+ago+and+being+close+last+year%2C+then+finally+getting+one+to+state%2C+head+coach+Ryan+Wrigley+said.+I+cant+even+explain+it%E2%80%93it+almost+brought+tears+to+my+eyes.+It+was+very+emotional.%E2%80%9D+
Addy Burris
Apart from the crowd, Naomi Harris is recognized for being the first girl in the wrestling program to qualify for state. “Starting this program for the girls four years ago and being close last year, then finally getting one to state,” head coach Ryan Wrigley said. “I can’t even explain it–it almost brought tears to my eyes. It was very emotional.”

Junior Naomi Harris was staring down the barrel of elimination’s gun at KSHSAA Girls 4-3-2-1A Regional action at Sabetha High School on Feb. 17. After a solid win in her first match, Harris dropped her second contest. There was no room for error–Harris would have to win her next four matches to qualify for state.

Pushing through the fatigue, Harris navigated her way through the consolation bracket. Harris won three matches in a row to reach the infamous “blood round” in which the loser goes home, while the winner earns a bid to the state championships. After a grueling match, Harris was awarded the win by a scoreline of 18-8.

Harris became the first girl to qualify for state in Miege wrestling history.

“That match there was one of the most satisfying matches I’ve ever had as a coach,” head coach Ryan Wrigley said. “Starting this program for the girls four years ago and being close last year, then finally getting one to state. I can’t even explain it–it almost brought tears to my eyes. It was very emotional.”

Harris, rejuvenated by her newfound status as a state qualifier, completed her day with a victory in the third-place match. Her victory was the sixth match she had wrestled that day.

“She was just exhausted at the end of it,” Wrigley said. “She could barely walk off the mat. She just wrestled mentally tough, physically tough all day long.”

Harris was not the only state qualifier for the program. Seniors Graham Hawks and Baker North qualified in their respective weight classes. North crossed the 100-win mark in his regionals victory, while Hawks placed third to qualify for his first-ever state championships.

“It’s been nine years wrestling for me, so after this, it’s going to be a big part of my life that I’m leaving behind,” Hawks said. “But you have to keep approaching every match like it’s just another match. You can’t ever put too much stress on yourself.”

Wrigley said he knows that Hawks and North have been integral parts of his program, and their work ethic and passion for the sport will be dearly missed next season. 

“[Regionals was] probably the best Graham has ever wrestled, all day long, even in his loss,” Wrigley said. “His thing is his belief in himself. I think he’s finally cracked that code this year where he knows he can wrestle with anybody.”

Hawks followed through on his coach’s forecasts. His sixth-place finish at state was an overachievement considering his original placement as the 11 seed in the bracket. Wrigley shared similar hopes for his North ahead of the state tournament.

“Baker has a shot at the one spot [on the podium],” Wrigley said. “He’s got the skills to do it. Baker walked through his regionals. I don’t think he spent more than a minute and a half on the mat on the day.”

North followed through on his coach’s hopes, winning the class 4A 285 lb. weight class state championship. Hawks finished sixth, capping his career with a state medal. Harris did not place at state, but her bid to the state tournament means more to the program than her matches at state this past weekend. 

“What Naomi has done is just amazing for the program,” Wrigley said. “Her experience with this and being able to bring it back to the team next year. Having that really good wrestler with state experience in the room rubs off on everyone else. Baker and Graham have done it for the boys’ team.”

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Daniel Sullivan, Sports Editor
Addy Burris, Staff Writer

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  • T

    Todd GlasgowMar 8, 2024 at 4:25 pm

    Baker North wins a state championship in dominating fashion and the article acts like it is an everyday occurrence?
    Needs to be a follow up on his title run and all the kids he has beat and how he got hurt last year right before regionals or could have been a two time state champion!

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