The Abilene Cowboys recorded its 12th North Central Kansas League wrestling championship during the 2018 – 2019 wrestling season and after graduating four of nine state qualifiers in May, including seven total seniors, they will return exactly half of their varsity line-up for the 2019 – 2020 season.
Head coach James Stout enters his 24th season with the Cowboys and his 17th as head coach. Stout and assistant coaches Corey Casteel, Josh Peterson, Darren Whiteley and Logan McDowell will welcome back three-time state place winner Will Stroda for his senior season.
Stroda finished last year strong with a regional championship and a second place finish at the Class 4A State Tournament at 113 pounds.
“Will Stroda will look to climb higher this year, likely at 120 or 126,” Stout said. “We will work to mature the remainder of the squad while adding a strong freshman class.”
Other returning state qualifiers include Kaleb Stroda (113-120), Jackson Randles (138-145), Colby Mohr (182) and Adam Henely (285).
The Cowboys should return several other experienced wrestlers fighting for spots, many of whom who have varsity experience. These wrestlers with experience will need to be big contributors to the team according to the head coach.
Several talented freshmen will also compete and add depth for the team. Most of these freshmen were on the competitive Abilene Middle School Longhorn teams the last couple of seasons.
Abilene’s schedule is relatively unchanged from a year ago according to Stout with the Cowboys kicking off the season with a dual against Wamego on Dec. 5th in Abilene. The Cowboys will compete in tournaments at Wamego, Manhattan and Abilene before the Christmas break.
In January, the Cowboys will face off with Augusta at Augusta and then host duals with Concordia and Marysville while also wrestling at tournaments in Herington, Basehor-Linwood and Beloit.
February will see the Cowboys hosting Clay Center and traveling to Chapman for NCKL duals as well as participating in tournaments at Phillipsburg and then the yet to be determined regionals. State is slated for Feb. 28-29 in Salina.
“It should be another exciting season of Cowboy wrestling,” Stout said. “We look to be contenders again and will fight in the races for league, regional and state championships. The NCKL looks to be very competitive with Marysville coming off a 4A state championship season. Wamego and Clay Center will be more mature also. There will be plenty of excitement in the NCKL championship race again this year.”
Girls’ wrestling as sanctioned sport is new in 2019 – 2020.
The Kansas State High School Activities Association approved a plan last spring that enabled girls wrestling as a separate sport to begin this fall. Abilene has had girls wrestling for several years but they have for the most part been against boys in the weight class.
This season, Abilene has three female wrestlers with two state placers returning from a year ago. Skyleigh Pflaster and Lyndsey Buechman return to the mat for Abilene with the hope at making it to the first KSHSAA state tournament in Salina on Feb. 27.
Weight classes for girls differ slightly from boys’ competition as the girls will have 11 weights (101, 109, 116, 123, 130, 136, 143, 155, 170, 191 and 235)
Girls’ regional assignments are yet to be determined but are tentatively penciled in for Feb. 15. The girls state tournament will be at Tony’s Pizza Events Center in Salina the day before the Class 4A State boys wrestling championships.
Cowboy Wrestling Schedule
Nov. 26 Orange & Brown
Dec. 5 vs. Wamego Dual
Dec. 7 at Wamego Tourney
Dec. 12 at Beloit Dual
Dec. 14 at Manhattan Tourney
Dec. 21 Abilene Varsity Tourney
Jan. 9 at Augusta Dual
Jan. 11 at Herington Tourney
Jan. 17-18 at Basehor-Linwood Tourney
Jan. 23 vs. Concordia Dual
Jan. 24-25 at Beloit Tourney
Jan. 30 vs. Marysville Dual
Feb. 6 vs. Clay Center Dual
Feb. 8 at Phillipsburg Tourney
Feb. 13 at Chapman Dual
Feb. 15 at Girls Regional
Feb. 21-22 at Regional Tourney
Feb. 27 Girls State at Salina
Feb. 28-29 Class 4A State Tourney at Salina