• Patton JHS joins Kaw Valley League

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    Patton Junior High School’s wrestling meet Nov. 3 at the school came with many firsts. It was the first meet to kick-off the season and the first meet ever for many of the 20 wrestlers who made up the team. It was also the first wrestling tournament that Patton participated in as official members of the Kaw Valley League.
    “Patton was invited to join the KVL by the existing KVL schools,” said Ryan Wiebe, Patton principal. “Being a member of the KVL increases opportunities in activities and sports that Patton offers for our students, which leads to growth of our programs and student participation.
    “We have added activities and one sport, boys and girls cross-country, and have additional opportunities to compete in league tournaments and meets along with band, music, spelling bee and Mathletics league, festivals and competitions,” he said. “This is something new and exciting for our students, parents and staff to be able to participate in and experience.”
    Keith Mispagel, Unified School District 207 superintendent, agreed.
    “It is great that our kids can continue to compete at high levels and be a part of a formal league,” he said. “In doing so, the teams and individual athletes are eligible for awards, recognitions and trophies as associated with the sports. We are thankful and fortunate that the KVL has allowed us to join with them.”
    Currently, the KVL includes Patton; Warren Middle School, Leavenworth, Kan.; Basehor-Linwood Middle School, Basehor, Kan.; Tonganoxie Middle School, Tonganoxie, Kan.; Monticello Trails Middle School, Shawnee, Kan.; Mill Creek Middle School, Lenexa, Kan.; Lexington Trail Middle School, De Soto, Kan.; Lansing Middle School, Lansing, Kan.; Turner Middle School, Kansas City, Kan.; Clark Middle School, Bonner Springs, Kan.; and Piper Middle School, Kansas City, Kan.
    The wrestling team was the second Patton sport to experience the KVL. The seventh- and eighth-grade girls’ volleyball teams participated in their first KVL tournament in early October.
    Going into the meet, wrestling Coach Paul Pursel said although the KVL puts the team in the center of the great wrestlers in the area, it didn’t change the way they prepared.
    “We have been focusing on very basic wrestling,” Pursel said. “As far as prep, there is no difference for us. Wrestling is wrestling. It’s a small family spread out all over the world. Our techniques are proven in that forum. We just need the mat time to develop as these guys mature. Hopefully by going head to head with these great programs, we will gain from the experience.”
    Patton eighth-grader and first-time wrestler Bryan Jennings said he thought joining the KVL was a positive thing.
    “It gives us more competition and it gives us people that know what they’re doing compared to some other schools that wouldn’t,” Jennings said. “It’s cool to see all the new faces and the new competition that will help us be better.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Jennings is also a member of the Patton track team, which will have a KVL meet in the spring.
    Patton eighth-grader and second-year wrestler Isaac Ativie said he could see how much bigger the event was this year.
    “It’s the same environment as last year, but it is a bit bigger,” he said, “but it is good because it allows the athletes to further their skills.”
    Ativie said he enjoyed the experience last year.
    “I started wrestling because it seemed really interesting and I’ve seen people do it and it looked like fun,” he said. “I enjoy the thrill because you go in unknowing about your opponent and just get to wrestle.”
    Patton seventh-grader Connor Covert’s parents, Lt. Col. A.J. Covert, Department of Army Tactics instructor, Command and General Staff College, and his wife, Renee Covert, agreed that wrestling in general would be a great learning experience for their son.
    “It builds a lot of teamwork,” A.J. Covert said. “They wrestle individually, but their scores benefit the greater team. The lesson learned just in that aspect alone shows that individual strengths contribute to a greater whole. The experience that he’s going to have today is going to set the stage for the rest of the season and then the rest of his youth.”
    “It creates the camaraderie between the classmates,” Renee Covert said. “They develop a relationship and I think it strays them away from any kind of meanness they can get into. It becomes a brotherhood.”
    Pursel said he and Coach Erik Rider are excited for the season.
    “Coach Rider and I are thrilled at the mix of athletes we have,” he said. “We have guys who love wrestling and guys using it for gains in other sports, overall fitness, or in their effort to gain mental toughness.
    “We are thrilled that we get to be part of the lives of these young men,” he said. “Saturday’s lessons will be remembered for a long time by most of these guys. That is why I truly believe wrestling is a true co-curricular activity, not an extracurricular. These student athletes won’t remember that much about the matches from Saturday in 20 years, but they will likely remember how to deal with adversity, humility or arrogance.”
    For a full look at the USD 207 athletic calendar for the remainder of the school year, visit https://patton.usd207.org/apps/events/?id=1.
    For a full list of KVL events, visit www.kawvalleyleague.org.
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