ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The Hillsboro High wrestling team qualified six athletes for state competition during the regional tournament in Burlington on Friday and Saturday.
The top four finishers in each weight class earned a berth in the Class 3-2-1A tournament this weekend at Hays
Two Trojan qualifiers won their respective classes. Senior Sean Leihy won at 145 pounds while junior Jacob Yoder took first at 171.
Sophomore Nicholas Mueller placed second at 130 pounds while junior Alex Jost, sophomore Tyler Jones and junior Grady Stultz each placed fourth at 103, 140 and 152, respectively.
Stultz represented Goessel High at regionals and will do so again at Hays.
As a team, Hillsboro placed fourth with 1061⁄2 points, trailing Burlington (1531⁄2), Eureka 1361⁄2) and Wichita Independent (1071⁄2).
The Trojans still had 10 wrestlers in contention for state after Friday’s opening round. On Saturday, Robby McClelland at 112 pounds and John Hein at 189 both lost close matches in the consolation finals that would have earned them a berth.
“Although it would have been nice to qualify a couple more through to state, I am very pleased with the six we have going,” coach Scott O’Hare said.
“I am especially happy for Sean and Jacob,” he added. “They have really been the leaders of this team all season, and it was fitting that they led by example this weekend.”
Leihy’s weight-class title was his first in tournament competition this season.
“While competing with only three years of wrestling experience, Sean is wrestling very well right now,” O’Hare said. “In the past month he has defeated three guys who had beaten him earlier in the season. He is peaking at the right time.”
Yoder, meanwhile, has dominated in the past two tournaments and will be making his second straight trip to state.
“I am still convinced he can wrestle with anyone in the state if he wrestles with confidence and remains offensive,” O’Hare said.
Jost, Mueller, Jones and Stultz will be making their appearance at Hays. Both Jost and Jones lost heart-breakingly close matches in the consolation finals at regionals.
“I am very excited for these guys to have made it as underclassmen,” O’Hare said. “They will gain some valuable experience in this exciting environment and hopefully turn some heads.”
Also competing at regionals for Hillsboro were Jared King (0-2, 125 pounds), Toby Jones (1-2, 135), Cameron Stultz (0-2, 140), Zach Jost (1-2, 152), Frankie Martin (2-2, 160) and Tyler Lofton (0-2, 215).
First-round pairings have already been announced for the opening of state competition on Friday morning.
Jost (16-17) will face C.J. Wilson (5-6) of Lincoln, Mueller (30-5) will face Tyler White (23-4) of Silver Lake, Jones (31-7) will face Darrell Melcher (36-2) of Herington, Leihy (30-9) will face Zach Beach (30-8) of Oskaloosa, Stultz (25-17) will face Jordan Meyer (27-7) of Sabetha, and Yoder (30-5) will face Logan Numrich (26-15) of Scott City.
Matches begin at 10 a.m. at Busch-Gross Coliseum on the campus of Fort Hays State.