Hillsboro senior Tyrell Thiessen was dominating his final state match.
He was up 5-0 after one round, with a takedown and a near pin. After two rounds, he was up 9-0, scoring a reversal in the opening 30 seconds of the period and nearly pinning Fritz Berger of Sylvan-Lucas unified with his opponent’s right arm secured behind his back.
This season, Thiessen struggled against wrestlers who were bigger and stronger. Thiessen weighs approximately 265 pounds and wrestles opponents up to 20 pounds heavier. Most of Thiessen’s six losses occurred in tournament finals when opponents would neutralize Thiessen’s quickness and agility with defensive wrestling styles. Those matches would go into the third round where Thiessen would tire.
Head coach Scott O’Hare wanted Thiessen to use his quickness and agility to his advantage, to attack at every opportunity. The Hillsboro heavyweight looked committed to that approach in the first two rounds against Berger in the second match of the consolation bracket.
“That’s the way we wanted Tyrell to wrestle all along,” O’Hare said.
Then the third round began. Thiessen started in the bottom position. Berger used his superior size and strength to keep Thiessen on the mat. As Thiessen tried to escape, he attempted to sprawl to his feet with his back straight, perpendicular to the mat. Berger pounced on this position, forcing Thiessen’s shoulders down and securing a pin to win the match.
“I think he relaxed a little bit,” O’Hare said. “He wanted to ride it out. Unfortunately, that’s a tough lesson to learn when you can’t learn from it.”
Thiessen’s loss was just one example of a disappointing tournament for the Trojans.
“I’m not just disappointed in terms of a loss,” O’Hare said. “I’m disappointed for them. They’ve put in the work, given the effort.”
Only a few matches before Thiessen’s final match, fellow senior Tanner Jones, 170 pounds, lost to Dusty Cook of Cherryvale, 17-5. Jones was down, 9-4, after one round. Cook was able to power Jones to the mat multiple times with his wrists locked around Jones’ neck with the two wrestlers standing. Jones scored a near pin and an escape but was nearly pinned himself three times in the second round.
“We knew that kid had one move and that was the headlock,” O’Hare said. “We let the kid move the match. We truly believe Tanner is a better wrestler.”
Making the loss more disappointing, Jones had defeated Cook a week earlier in a close semifinal match at regionals. Jones was also looking at a favorable matchup in the consolation quarterfinals against a wrestler he had defeated 8-0 earlier in the year.
Jones defeated Dalton Blow of Onaga, 5-1, to begin the tournament but lost to Jason Berkgren of Oakley in the second round, 5-2. Jones ended the season with a record of 30-12.
“We had to have something late in the match,” O’Hare said of Jones matchup against Berkgren. “The kid stayed in good position.”
Thiessen lost his first match to Laramie Lomley of Sublette by pin in the second round. He then defeated Jacob Leuthold by forfeit in the first consolation match. Thiessen ended the season with a record of 30-7.
Freshman Austin Cross did not make it past the first day of competition. The regional champion at 145 pounds lost to Brandon Schoenthaler, 17-17, of Wakeeney-Trego Community, 12-4, in the first round. He then lost to Garret Dunlap of Highland-Doniphan West by pin in the second round of the first consolation match. Cross ended the season with a record of 33-10.
“He didn’t perform up to his capability,” O’Hare said. “He wasn’t ready to wrestle the No. 1 or No. 2 guys but he had the capability to wrestle with anybody else in the bracket.”
Sophomore Jon Carey lost both of his matches in the 120-pound bracket. He was defeated by No. 1 seed Macrae Migchelbrink of Atwood-Rawlins County by pin. He then lost to Corey Tyler of St. Mary’s, 13-2.
Carey’s tournament has a different flavor than his teammates. O’Hare said Carey’s goal was to get to the tournament. He said that accomplishment is amazing considering Carey had not wrestled until midseason because of an injury. He ended the season with a record of 8-16.
O’Hare said this state tournament should serve as a learning experience for Cross and Carey.
“Here you have to be mentally and physically tough,” O’Hare said. “Really, nobody in this tournament is going to give you anything.”
He expects the two young wrestlers will create better results in future state competitions.
“Both Jon and Austin will have success down here before they’re out of school,” O’Hare said.