Prairie View High School opened in 1969. Football won the state title in the second year of existence. Track and Cross Country saw individuals win several titles throughout the years. Wrestling took a while longer. The program started in 1972. The first Prairie View wrestler to win gold was Nathan Sommer, in 2009, nearly 40 years later. There have been 3 more champions since then. Along the way, a foundation was built. The new girls team is building upon that foundation.
Girls wrestling is in its second official year now. In the inaugural season, Copenhagen Browning and Kylee Eastwood made it to the state tournament. Eastwood was one match from medaling while Browning brought home a 6th place medal. Growing up, Browning had success in Kids wrestling, capturing a couple of state titles. Eastwood is a relative newcomer to the sport, this would be just her 5th season. However Browning decided to hang up the headgear and Eastwood is recovering from a devastating knee injury.
However, four wrestlers from Prairie View are making their own mark on their school’s history this year. Even though the upcoming tournament is called “sub-state”, most coaches are counting the participants as “state qualifiers” this year. Prairie View qualified four competitors to the girls sub-state tournament this year.
Macy Michalski is brand new to the sport. She is a senior, but in her first year of wrestling. It is difficult to compete in the sport when joining so late, and she wishes she had joined in the game sooner so she could be more competitive. She weighs in at 101 pounds.
Her father, Tony, was a state medalist at St. Thomas Aquinas in the mid-90s, but she says he never pushed her to do the sport. She made the decision on her own, as a way to get in shape for track season. The success she is enjoying, is just icing on the cake. S
he was a courtwarming candidate, then came top-4 showings in League, District, and Regional.
Keelea Benedick has been wrestling almost her entire life. Nothing, not a deathly-low hemoglobin count, dog bites, or even the global pandemic could prevent her from being with the team. Starting when she was 4 years old, all she has done is enjoy success. She took 1st place in Kids state tournaments in 2013, 2017, and 2018, with runner-ups in 2014 and 2016. She took 8th place in the 2015 Girls Folkstyle national championship. Most recently, She placed 5th in Kansas in the Kids state tournament in 2019. Her freshman year, she took 4th in the unofficial Girl’s State tournament. She was pumped for the beginning of sophomore year, but something wasn’t right.
She spent a day at Children’s Mercy. Her hemoglobin levels were so low, doctors commented that it was a miracle she was still alive. As soon as she was released, she was back at practice, visiting her teammates and getting in some mat time. She was able to put in a full season, albeit feeling weak and exhausted, and ended up with a 9-8 record. She is currently fourth in career wins. She won league this year at 132 pounds and won her first 11 matches in a row. Keelea has a chance to be the first four-year girls wrestler at Prairie View. She has posted winning records each of the last three seasons.
Alyssa Page, like Keelea, has been around the sport her entire life. Her grandfather, Larry, at one point held the career wins record, 67, at Prairie View. Her father and coach, Luke, later graduated with the career wins record, 131, in 2002. Her younger brother also is active in the kids club scene. Despite showing affinity to the sport, she never joined in the competition.
Head coach Walter Vandeventer got in her ear though, and got her out for the team. After a strong sophomore year and her current junior season, she is already third in career wins with 36, 11 behind Browning but just two behind Eastwood. First place finishes at Burlington, League, District, and Regional and a 12-2 record have landed her in the state rankings, 4th at 143 pounds.
Whitley Cox-Halliburton is no stranger to wrestling. Her three older brothers also wrestled at Prairie View. Wyiatt is dual-sporting in football and wrestling at Baker University. Wayde, a sophomore, is still going, joining her at sub-state. Oldest brother Will is in the Air Force. She is in her first year of competitive wrestling, but has always competed against her brothers.
Whitley spent her entire childhood, fighting and wrestling with the bigger, stronger guys. The time spent is paying off now. She is just a freshman, her first year in the program, and has already managed to crack the state rankings, 6th at 235 pounds. 5-5 on the season so far, she will have ample time to leave a strong legacy at Prairie View.
However you look at it, this has been a successful season. Nearly the entire roster was overhauled from the previous season. Only Page and Benedick were out last year. Still, there are 5 league champions and 4 state qualifiers on the roster. They are only losing one senior. Others returning next year include Laney Schaffer, Taryn Mills, and Glynda Campbell. Schaffer and Mills had successful varsity seasons, both claiming league titles in their weight classes and nearly making out to state as well. Keep an eye out for these Buffalos!