ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Competing in the deepest Mid-Central Activities Association history, Hillsboro scrambled to a second-place finish in the eight-team, nine-school field at the league meet Saturday in Hoisington.
Hometown fans who turned out for the competition saw their Cardinals take the team title with 155 points. Hillsboro, with 115 points, edged Lyons for second place by a scant three points.
Marion placed sixth with 841/2 points.
“This was probably as tough as the league tournament has ever been,” said Hillsboro coach Scott O’Hare. “Adding Marion, although they competed in the league tournament last year, Smoky Valley and Hoisington into the mix really adds to the depth of this league in wrestling.
“I was very pleased to finish second,” O’Hare added. “I knew going in that Hoisington would be the team to beat, and that proved to be the case. They simply had too much firepower.”
Hillsboro’s highest individual finish was second place, which three Trojans achieved.
Zach Magnuson was the runner-up at 103 pounds with a 1-1 record. He defeated Justin Simon of Haven in the semifinals before being pinned by Dane Kepka of Lyons in the finals.
Eric Cress was 2-1 with wins over John Barr of Marion and Jerrod Beaver of Hoisington before losing a 5-4 decision to Keanan Kroetsch of Lyons in the finals.
Kurtis Shaw also placed second, but faced only one competitor in the 275-pound class, losing to Jacob Schneider of Hoisington.
Three Trojans placed third in their respective weight classes.
Ric Johnson went 3-1 at 125 pounds, defeating Garrett Ludwig of Lyons, losing to Jose Andrade of Halstead, then defeating Hank Collett of Marion and Nathan Hoffman of Hoisington.
Andrew Bina, 3-1 at 145 pounds, defeated Sam Marston of of Hesston, lost to Ross Ballard of Haven, then defeated Spencer Crowther of Smoky Valley and Josiah Daniels of Halstead.
Matt Brown, 3-1 at 152 pounds, defeated Evan Talbot of Smoky Valley, lost to Mitch Mason of Hesston, then defeated Eric Toler of Halstead and Jared Griffin of Hoisington.
Three Trojans finished fourth: Frankie Martin, 2-2 at 112 pounds; Chris Jensen, 2-2 at 119 pounds; and Josh Kenney, 0-2 at 171 pounds.
Also competing for HHS were Grady Stultz, 1-2 at 130 pounds; Sean Leihy, 1-2 at 140 pounds; and Daniel Roble, 0-2 at 189.
“Although I was disappointed that we didn’t have any individual champions, I like the way the team pulled through,” O’Hare said. “This group has really begun to understand that every team point is critical.
“We have been right in the mix in three big tournaments, where just a couple of team points here or there could have made the difference. That was the case again this weekend, and the guys really stepped up to get the bonus points when we needed them.”
O’Hare said this year’s team has been successful in an unusual way.
“They have really put together a fine season without having a single wrestler really stand out,” he said. “They are really putting together the team concept to what many see as such an individual sport. That has been exciting to see this season.”
For Marion, Casey Nelson earned a league title by winning the 152-pound class. He defeated Jed Reece of Haven in his first match, then defeated Mitch mason of Hesston to win the title.
Also finishing among the top four in their respective class were: Chelsea Arnhold, third at 112 pounds; Charlie Holub, fourth at 130; Ben Leppke, fourth at 140; Chris Freeby, second at 171; and Adam Depler, second at 189.
Freeby defeated Craig Miller of Hesston, then lost to Dustin Foster of Halstead in the title match.
Depler defeated Brandon Abney of Hesston, then lost to Michael Baker of Smoky Valley in the match for first.
Arnhold defeated David Romereim of Halstead, lost to Alex Lomas of Hoisington, then defeated Jake Coney of Smoky Valley and Martin of Hillsboro.
Coming-The Trojans and Warriors are now aiming at the apex of their season: qualifying wrestlers for the Class 3-2-1A state wrestling meet in Hays on Feb. 25-26. To get there, athletes will need to finish among the top four in their respective weight classes at Saturday’s regional tournament at Onaga.
Hillsboro’s two wrestlers from Goessel, Cress and Stultz, will be representing their home high school the remainder of the season.
Joining those two schools and Marion in the field are Burlingame, Chase County, Pleasant Ridge, Atchison County Community, Mission Valley, Herington, Hope, Horton, Onaga, Oskaloosa, Rossville, Sabetha, Saint George-Rock Creek, Saint Marys, Silver Lake, Wabaunsee and Wellsville.
MCAA TOURNAMENT RESULTS
Team scores: Hoisington 155, Hillsboro 115, Lyons 112, Halstead 106, Hesston 90.5, Marion 84.5, Haven-Nickerson 56, Smoky Valley 50.
103: 1. Kepka, Lyons, pinned Magnuson, Hillsboro; 3. Simon, Haven-Nickerson, def. Porter, Halstead. 112: 1. Larson, Lyons, pinned Lomas, Hoisington; 3. Arnhold, Marion, pinned Martin, Hillsboro. 119: 1. Cook, Hoisington, def. King, Hesston; 3. Walton, Halstead, pinned Jensen, Hillsboro. 125: 1. Andrade, Halstead, def. Montisano, Haven-Nickerson; 3. Johnson, Hillsboro, pinned Hoffman, Hoisington. 130: 1. Lackey, Smoky Valley, pinned Baler, Hoisington; 3. Miles, Lyons, def. Holub, Marion. 135: 1. Kroetsch, Lyons, def. Cress, Hillsboro; 3. Beaver, Hoisington, pinned Kientz, Hesston. 140: 1. Hazard, Lyons pinned Jansen, Hesston; 3. Bayer, Halstead, pinned Leppke, Marion. 145: 1. Hejny, Hoisington, def. Ballard, Haven-Nickerson; 3. Bina, Hillsboro, def. Daniels, Halstead. 152: 1. Nelson, Marion, def. Mason, Hesston; 3. Brown, Hillsboro, pinned Griffin, Hoisington. 160: 1. Spencer, Hesston, pinned Engstrom, Hoisington; 3. Logue, Smoky Valley, won forfeit. 171: 1. Foster, Halstead, pinned Freeby, Marion; 3. Miller, Hesston, pinned Kenney, Hillsboro. 189: 1. Baker, Smoky Valley, pinned Depler, Marion; 3. Abney, Hesston, pinned Shives, Hoisington. 215: 1. Foster, Halstead, def. Rous, Hoisington; 3. Cline, Lyons, pinned Ruane, Haven-Nickerson. 275: 1. Schneider, Hoisington, pinned Shaw, Hillsboro; 3. Moore, Haven-Nickerson, won forfeit.