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Friday, Mar. 02, 2012

Ravens’ Middleton wins another state wrestling title

todpalmer@theolathenews.com

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Connor Middleton had a much tougher road to a Kansas 6A state wrestling championship last weekend at Hartman Arena, but the Olathe Northwest senior walked away wearing a gold medal anyway for the second consecutive season.

“I don’t remember the nerves from last year, but the nerves drove me crazy today,” Middleton said. “Having a championship from last year gave me some confidence, but at the same time, last year I beat the returning state champ, so I didn’t want to get ahead of myself.”

As a junior, Middleton made history with the first state title in Ravens’ history. He leaves as a two-time champion after winning the Kansas 6A title at 160 pounds with a 3-1 victory against Shawnee Mission North’s Cody Carson.

Middleton, 41-1, owns every significant record in the program’s history and set the benchmark for future ONW wrestlers to strive toward.

“I tried to set the bar high, and it’s not as high as I wanted to set it obviously,” Middleton said. “But I put it up there pretty good, so someone can beat it but they’ll have to work for it.”

As he has throughout his career, Middleton relied on a mistake-free, technically sound en route to the championship opening with a 15-3 major decision victory against Manhattan’s Austin Chaucey and then taking down three straight medalists.

Middleton beat Garden City’s Jonathan Heiman, who finished fourth, 6-3 and then outlasted Hutchinson’s Ja’mon Cotton, who wound up fifth, 3-2 in the semifinals.

“There’s still more work to do,” Middleton said. “I’m going on to college, where I’ll face four-timers.”

He’ll also become teammates with Olathe East’s 220-pound senior Myron Tipton, who finished third in 6A.

Tipton, who will play football and wrestle with Middleton next year at Baker, had qualified for state the two previous seasons but failed to win a match as a sophomore or junior. He went 5-1 as a senior to level his career record at state and finish on the podium.

“I got my first win (at state) and then I lost a close one,” Tipton said. “But when I woke up, I was determined to go for third. I had to beat some good kids to get it. It’s great and I’m glad I’m got to end with my hand being raised. That felt great.”

Finally, Ravens senior Broc Bowman, 32-13, finished fourth in the heavyweight class, winning four straight matches on the backside after an opening-round loss to reach the consolation final.

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