ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF & TOM STOPPEL
Adam Depler became the second Marion wrestler in school history to win a medal at state when he placed sixth at the Class 3-2-1A tournament in Hays this weekend.
Hillsboro wrestlers Ric Johnson and Matt Brown went a combined 1-4 in an always-tough field.
Depler, wrestling at 189 pounds, won his opening match on Friday by pinning Kyle Manwaring of Burlington at the 6:56 mark.
He followed that by pinning Dustin Spears of Osborne at the 3:52 mark, then lost, 6-3, to Justin Hall of Stockton in the semifinals.
“Drew wrestled really, really well on Friday,” coach Chad Adkins said.
“Once you win your second match, you go to the semifinals and you’re assured of a medal. He didn’t wrestle as well later on, but he met up with some tough kids.
“He fought really hard and just missed the finals.”
On Saturday, Depler lost 15-3 to Erik Larsen of Lincoln in the consolation semifinals, then lost 7-3 in a rematch with Spears in the battle for fifth place.
“(Depler) continued to wrestle hard, but he got pretty tired and he was against some pretty good competition out there,” Adkins said.
“He won the matches he needed to in order to place and that’s the first wrestler we’ve ever had place in Marion. Dusty Delaney placed when Marion was wrestling with Hillsboro.”
Adkins felt Depler’s performance put a nice cap on a successful season.
“We had a really good year, actually,” he said. “We went to a tougher regional and saw a lot of good competition. We still had five kids in the round to qualify for state, so we were right there but we just came up a little short.
“It ought to give us a good boost going in to next year,” he said.
For Hillsboro, Johnson had the best outing at Hays, winning a match in the consolation bracket on Friday.
The Trojan junior, making his second appearance at state, was pinned at the 1:29 mark of his opening match by Tyler Baker of Hoxie, who went on to win the state title at 125 pounds.
In his first consolation-bracket match, Johnson defeated Jonathan Booie of Cherryvale, 3-2, by scoring a 3-point near-fall in the final period to overcome a 2-0 deficit.
In the next round, Johnson was pinned by Wyatt Bechtel of Eureka at the 3:39 mark.
Brown, meanwhile, lost his first two matches at 152 pounds in his first appearance at state.
In the opening round, the Trojan junior was pinned by Dara Walker of Wichita Independent at the 5:27 mark.
In the first round of the consolation bracket, Brown was pinned by Tom Kriley of Smith Center, who went on to place third.
“Ric and Matt both had some pretty tough draws early in the tournament,” coach Scott O’Hare said.
“It was nice to get Matt and Ric down to Hays for the state tournament,” he added.
“Although they are disappointed with not advancing further in the tournament, the experience of competing there will certainly help them down the road.
O’Hare said the value of competing at state goes beyond the won-loss record.
“Although neither of them fared too well as far as wins and losses, both will be much better prepared going into next season,” he said. “I really look forward to seeing these two guys, as well as many other team members, develop and improve through next season.
“I think we have a lot to look forward to.”
Depler, also a junior, finished the season with a 23-10 season record while Johnson finished 25-17 and Brown 25-16.
Depler was honored at an all-school assembly on Monday.
“I was really excited (about going to state), and I thought it was going to be a lot tougher to medal than it was,” he said afterward. “I didn’t expect to medal when I went there, since it was my first time there.
“My goal is to win state next year,” he added.