The 2018-19 Leavenworth wrestling team was a young and inexperienced group, but head coach Matt Long said the team fought through the tough schedule and was not afraid of opponents. 

The Pioneers finished 19th at the state tournament last month. 

The team sent six wrestlers to the state tournament with two medaling. Jacob McLain finished third in what Long called a “great state tournament” and Tyler Robinson took sixth. Julian Long, Julien Bell and Jacob Zilmer also competed for the Pioneers. Hartwell Taylor was supposed to compete, but an injury in regionals sidelined one of the top-ranked 6A wrestlers.

Despite the season being cut short, Long said Taylor was the Pioneers’ MVP. Long also said that Bell and Robinson came a long way in a year. 

When asked about the best performances, Long said the dual tournament against Olathe North was the team’s best performance.

“Our best meet was the Olathe North dual,” Long said. “We did not win the dual against Olathe North but we beat three ranked kids that day. The best individual performance was Jacob McLain. His best tournament was the state tournament, placing third.”

Weather impacted a lot of the winter sports this year. Long said tournament-wise, only JV was bothered but the team did lose a few practices.

Long was asked if he would change anything about the season.

“The only thing I would change for the season is I wish Hartwell could have competed in the state tournament,” he said.

Taylor will be one of the returning wrestlers for the Pioneers next year. The team is losing a small group of seniors. Long said they led with a positive attitude and strong work ethic. 

While Long expects the team to be younger, he said a good group of kids have club experience.

“So that will help them learn and jump in faster,” Long said, “Next year we will also take our lumps early. But just like this year, we will step up.”