Warrior wrestling squad short on numbers
In two years as the Warriors’ wrestling coach, Tyler McMichael’s had the luxury of a large number of competitors out to nearly fill all the class.
With four state qualifiers a year ago, the former Central-Burden standout McMichael had the talent and numbers, which made for a 12th-place finish at the state meet in Hays.
But graduation took its toll on the Warriors with only half of Marion’s qualifiers returning.
Gone are heavyweight and sixth-place finisher Jarret McLinden, two-time state runner-up Tyler Palic, Colton Brewer, and Brock Mitchell.
Despite having the smallest class he’s ever had this year with seven, having a young team isn’t much of a concern for McMichael.
“We’re looking at a younger team, but they’re eager to learn more about the sport and improve on our skills,” McMichael said. “It’s a group that’ll improve daily.”
With senior state qualifiers Charlie Nordquist and Ethan Darnall back, McMichael’s got a solid experienced nucleus to center his team around.
Six points were all that kept Nordquist from wrestling for a state title a year ago with Goodland’s eventual runner-up Luis Ledesma dashing Nordquist’s chances on a 7-2 decision.
Nordquist finished the year at 33-5, settling for a fourth-place medal at Hays.
Opening the year at second behind Sabetha’s top-ranked Cauy Rokey, perhaps Marion’s best chance for a state title rests on the 220-pound Nordquist’s shoulders.
Going two-and-out at state as a junior, the 2018 finale was more to prepare the 132-pound Darnall for his final run.
Pending injuries, McMichael should be able to fill half the classes with the 106-, 126-, 138-145, and 182-pound slots also spoken for.
Junior Luke Lanning was a feisty competitor a year ago and could pose a threat to capture a ticket to state for the 195-pound class.
Joining Lanning as the Warriors’ lone juniors, Calib Mallory is the likely competitor for either the 138- or 145-pound class.
If the same history his brothers enjoyed follows him, the 182-pound sophomore Todd Palic may be on the verge of qualifying for state.
Palic’s the last of three brothers with the 2015 graduate and current assistant coach, Kyle, Marion County’s only state champion, and Tyler.
Rounding out the team is the sophomore duo of Forest Slater and Will Allevan for the 106- and 126-pound class.
The pair got valuable experience as freshmen and are likely to improve in their second year.
“The biggest thing we’ve got to work on is just learning the sport, and being more aggressive,” McMichael said.
That will be important as the Warriors face the usual minefield of a weekend schedule to tune up for late February.
Along with the brutal JR Durham Invite at Norton and competing against 4 and 5A schools, Marion will make stops at Burlington, Wellington, Halstead, Eureka, Hoisington, Onaga, and Chase County.
Last modified Nov. 29, 2018