Led by two weight-class champions, the Hillsboro wrestling team placed sixth among 21 teams at the Halstead Invitational Friday and Saturday.
Smoky Valley won the team title with 206 points, followed by Marion (149), Cherryvale (136.5), Lyons (126), Southeast of Saline (102.5) and Hillsboro (85).
Four of the six Trojans competing made it to the medal round. Freshman Austin Cross won the first title in his high school career with a 4-0 record at 145 pounds, and senior Tyrell Thiessen won his first title of the season with a 4-0 record at 285 pounds.
“Austin’s win in the finals was even more rewarding in that he avenged one of his two losses from earlier this season against Nic Johnson from Halstead, who won both the Hesston and Herington tournaments earlier this season,” coach Scott O’Hare said.
He applauded Thiessen’s determination in the title match against Billy Mersereau of Cherryvale.
“Tyrell got reversed to his back,” O’Hare said. “After fighting off his back, he was behind 5-2 about halfway through the first period. From there, he took over, scoring seven points over the next two periods, and only surrendering two escapes to his opponent for the final 9-7 score.”
Also making it to the medal round were senior Tanner Jones, who placed fourth at 170 pounds with a 2-2 record, and freshman Levi Mendoza, who placed sixth at 182 pounds with a 2-2 record.
“Although Tanner took a difficult loss in his medal round match, he really wrestled a pretty good tournament,” O’Hare said.
On Friday, Jones dominated Kelcey Kroetsch of Lyons, 18-1, then lost a 4-0 decision to Smoky Valley’s Trevor Whitaker, who is ranked No. 1 in Class 4A. Jones then came back to defeat Cody Carr of Douglass, 7-5, before losing by fall to Dusty Cook of Cherryvale in the third-place match.
“Unfortunately, he got caught in a headlock and was pinned in the first period,” O’Hare said of the final match. “We are hoping to have a shot at avenging that loss next week at Eureka.”
O’Hare complemented Mendoza’s effort in his first year of high school wrestling.
“I am proud of Levi for continuing to battle tough in one of the upper weights as a freshman,” he said. “Although he still has a lot to learn, he continues to improve, and he makes up for many of his mistakes with just a lot of heart and determination.”
Also competing for Hillsboro were junior Preston Nelson, who went 1-2 at 152 pounds, and sophomore Jesse Meier, who was 1-2 at 160.
“Jesse and Preston had a couple tough draws and tough breaks,” O’Hare said. “They are so close to getting over the hump. They are just making some critical mistakes in body position that are getting them both in trouble.
“As we continue to recognize those bad position and learn to adjust accordingly, I believe they will both make a turn for us in a positive direction.”
In junior varsity matches, freshman Franklin Jost went 2-2 to finish third at 182 pounds, freshman Zach Ghahremanzadeh went 0-3 at 182, and sophomore Dermot Morey went 0-3 at 285.
“These three young men gained some valuable experience at this tournament. It is traditionally a very tough JV tournament with the size of schools that attend,” O’Hare said.
Coming—Hillsboro will compete Saturday at the Eureka Invitational.