Highland Park wrestler Kenny Hartzell aiming to follow in father’s footsteps

Highland Park junior Kenny Hartzell (top) is off to an 18-2 start this season after winning the 152-pound championship in Saturday’s Topeka High Invitational. (Rick Peterson/The Capital-Journal)

Time will tell if Highland Park junior Kenny Hartzell can ever approach the wrestling accomplishments of his father, a former state champion for the Scots.


But the younger Hartzell is well on his way to carving out his own niche in the sport.

A first-team All-City pick last season, Hartzell is 18-2 this season after winning the 152-pound title in last Saturday’s Topeka High Invitational.

Hartzell’s father, the Class 5A 215-pound champ in 1996, was there as always to cheer his son on and young Kenny said his dad (also named Kenny) has been a good role model for him to follow throughout his career.

“He helps me a lot,” Hartzell said. “He’s the person I listen to the most really because I know he was a good wrestler. He knows that we’re different wrestlers, but he helps me when he can.”

Hartzell went a perfect 3-0 in Saturday’s Topeka High tourney, capturing the championship with a 6-1 decision over Topeka High sophomore standout Matthew Cutshall.

The win was his third of the season over Cutshall, but Hartzell said he knows he can never take anything for granted against his friendly rival.

“It gets more difficult because you know if you beat them then they’re going to come back harder every time,” Hartzell said. “But also me and Matthew have been wrestling together since we were really little so there’s always been that competition there (and) we always want to beat each other. Every match is different, so you never know what’s going to come.”

Hartzell qualified for state each of his first two seasons at Highland Park, but wants to step up his game this season and is focused on trying to earn his first state medal next month.

“That’s the goal,” he said. “There’s always room to improve, but I feel like right now I have what it takes. But I can only get better.”

— Shawnee Heights won Marysville’s 13-school Jayhusker Invitational by a 201.5-165 margin over host Marysville on Saturday, the T-Birds’ sixth tournament championship of the year.

Leading the way for the T-Birds was senior 160-pounder Jake Patterson, who was named the tournament’s outstanding wrestler.

After a first-round bye Patterson, now 25-1, posted two straight pins before taking a 5-0 decision over Marysville’s Storm Slupianek in the championship match.

Shawnee Heights also got tournament championships from 106-pound junior Freddy Maisberger IV, 113-pound senior Barrett Stickelman and 138-pound junior Cade Wathke.

— Washburn Rural finished fourth in the 27-school Newton Tournament of Champions on Saturday.

The Junior Blues got second-place finishes from senior 132-pounder Gunnar Murray and senior 285-pounder Jacob Glendinning while junior 170-pounder Preston Williams finished third.


Three city basketball teams will be in action Tuesday, with Hayden’s boys competing in the Basehor-Linwood tournament while Highland Park and Washburn Rural’s girls teams will be on the road for non-league regular-season contests.

Hayden (4-4 on the season) will take on DeLaSalle, Mo. in a 7:30 p.m. pool play contest at Basehor-Linwood while Highland Park (7-3) will travel to Kansas City-Harmon (7 p.m.) and Washburn Rural (6-1) will play at Shawnee Mission Northwest (7 p.m.).


Hayden, Seaman and Shawnee Heights will take part in a quadrangular hosted by Seaman on Tuesday at West Ridge Lanes, starting at 3:30 p.m. Topeka High will also host a quadrangular on Tuesday at Gage Bowl, while Highland Park and Topeka West will also compete in that event, slated to start at 3:30 p.m.



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