Welcome to our new feature, “Hidden Gems”! With the country going through an unprecedented time and most national-level high school wrestling events canceled or postponed for the foreseeable future, it is difficult to be a rising senior. Typically, the spring and summer are places where overlooked wrestlers breakout and become household names heading into their senior seasons. This year, no such luck. At TOM’s we’ve tried to help out and shine the spotlight on some of those wrestlers that are currently unknown to many fans and college coaches. That’s where “Hidden Gems” comes in.
Each edition will focus on one particular state. We will highlight ten wrestlers that are not currently in the list of the top-150 wrestlers in the Class of 2021. Why, you ask? Most of the wrestlers in the top 150 are “out there”. Coaches/fans/observers know their names and are on the lookout for them. After those 150, there are plenty of hidden gems, wrestlers that could be successful on the next level.
Today we’re focusing on Kansas. Unfortunately, Kansas does not have any DI programs in-state, so its wrestlers are forced to leave its borders if they want to compete at that level. Aside from DI, there are plenty of options in-state for Kansas high schoolers at the DII, NAIA, and NJCAA divisions. Kansas is a state that is broken down into four separate divisions for wrestling. 5A and 6A conduct their state tournaments at the same site, while 4A is by itself. The 3A/2A/1A school are all grouped together and have their own tournament. The state also held its first sanctioned tournament for high school girls in 2020, so expect their output to increase on the national level.
These are the Kansas wrestlers in the top-150; therefore, they will not be featured below.
#6 Kyle Haas (Maize) and #76 Jared Simma (St. Thomas Aquinas)
Kansas’s Hidden Gems
Johnny Akin - St. Thomas Aquinas - 5A
2019-20 Weight: 138
Projected Weight: 141
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