It may not have been the outcome Hillsboro High School wrestling coach Scott O’Hare wanted, but compared to the opening week, Saturday’s Hesston Invitational may offer some condolences.
Behind a pair of championships from Nick Mueller and John Hein and a pair of runner-up finishes by Toby and Tyler Jones, the Trojans were able to finish second overall.
“I can’t say that I am satisfied with finishing second-place in the team race as our expectations are to go in and win the tournament,” O’Hare said. “However, I am pleased with the performance overall in such an early-season tournament, especially considering we were going in a little short-handed.”
A state qualifier from a year ago, Robbie McClelland was out of action due to taking the ACT.
“It’s hard to speculate, but with the team scoring coming down to only a one-point difference, it is hard to believe that the outcome would not have been different had he been available for us,” O’Hare said.
Mueller (130-pound class) went into Saturday riding two-straight Hesston tournament titles.
He pinned McPherson’s Chris Lewis in the first period of his first match and disposed of Halstead’s Peyton Wingert by a 14-2 decision to set a match against archrival — Marion’s Cody Wildin.
Wildin spoiled Mueller’s perfect week Dec. 4 at Hoisington, but Saturday, Mueller vindicated his loss with a 5-4 decision.
“He wrestled a solid tournament and had a nice win in the finals, avenging his early season loss,” O’Hare said. “This will be a good match-up that we expect to see a few times more throughout the year and I expect both will benefit from the high level of competition that they will provide for each other.”
Hein (189) finished the day a perfect 4-0, beginning the tournament by dispatching Chapparal’s Taylor Claflin, 14-2.
After that, nobody lasted more than a minute against him the next two matches — Flint Hills Joe Webster falling in 21 seconds and McPherson’s Taylor Krier in 53 seconds.
Nickerson’s Weston Cotrell had the best luck, but he was pinned in 2:32 of the second period with Hein clinching his first tournament championship.
“John has really worked hard in the weightroom over the past couple years to improve his strength and athleticism,” O’Hare said. “That, along with the fact that he is wrestling at a more natural weight than he was a year ago, is really going to benefit his performance.”
Toby Jones (145) took down Stafford’s Ian Johnson in 1:09 of the first period to start the day before pinning Isaac Stuhlsatz of Andale in 2:48 of the second period.
Toby then rolled Haven’s Kody Wiggin, 8-2, to advance to the championship.
However, Garden Plain’s Cole Zoglman, a 2007 state-medalist, was able to get the best of Toby, topping him with a 13-3 decision — his first setback of the season.
Tyler Jones’ (152) day kicked off against Smokey Valley’s Ryan Barber.
Tyler was able to score the fall in 5:09 of the third period to move on to the second round where he whipped Halstead’s Tyler Henning, 20-7.
Haven’s Josh Miller didn’t last 45 seconds with Tyler, and he was off to wrestle for gold.
Much like his brother, Tyler’s first loss of the season ironically came at the hands of a Garden Plain opponent in the medal round, coming up on the short end of a 4-2 decision to Sage Thimmesch.
Brett and Darren Mueller, Matt Yoder, Aaron Bina, Lonnie Benda, and Gabe Anderson just missed wrestling for medals, sustaining setbacks in the consolation semifinals.
“This tournament concludes the pre-Christmas schedule for the varsity,” O’Hare said. “It gives us a good feel for where we are.
“We will use the next couple of weeks to continue to improve on our technique and look forward to see what we can accomplish the remainder of the season.”