ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
By the time the 18-team Class 3-2-1A regional tournament finally ended Saturday evening, Hillsboro High School home team had qualified a school-record eight wrestlers for state competition in Hays next weekend.
Coach Cory Burton sent eight wrestlers to state back when Hillsboro and Marion wrestled as a unified program, but this was the most Hillsboro has sent on its own.
Three Trojans-sophomore Bri Ratzlaff at 103 pounds, senior John Sims at 125 and junior Carson Greenhaw at 145-made it to the championship finals. All three finished in second place in their respective classes.
To qualify for state competition, a wrestler needed to finish among the top four in his weight class.
Qualifying by placing third in their weight class were sophomore James Bina at 140 and senior Ryan Jilka at 171.
Three Trojans qualified by placing fourth: freshman Danny Yoder at 130 pounds, senior Adam Jilka at 152 pounds, and junior Wade Sorensen at 189 pounds.
As a team, Hillsboro placed third with 131 points. The Trojans missed second place and a team plaque by 2.5 points. Eureka ran away with the title with 209.5 points and West Elk slipped into second with 133.5 points on the final match of the night, when Rodger Kraft defeated Chris Byer of Marion at 275 pounds.
“We finished really strong in the tournament, but we came up a little bit short,” Burton said. “But the kids wrestled well.”
The Trojan qualifiers will take the following season records to the competition in Hays: Ratzlaff, 22-7; Sims, 21-12; Yoder, 17-11; Bina, 31-10; Greenhaw, 29-7; Adam Jilka, 14-13; Ryan Jilka, 25-6; and Sorensen, 24-11.
In addition to Byer, Marion qualified three wrestlers for state competition: sophomore Evan Sharp, who finished four at 140 pounds; senior Levi Arnhold, who finished second at 152; and freshman Steven Boone, who finished fourth at 171.
Burton was pleased with Hillsboro High School first attempt to host a regional tournament.
“We heard a lot of positive things about the tournament,” he said. “Especially for a first tournament, it went great. We thank everybody for all their support and help.”