Martin takes sixth at state wrestling
By RYAN RICHTER
Rolling to an easy Eureka regional title Feb. 16 might have been some reason to believe the Hillsboro High School wrestling team would be one to watch this past weekend at the 3-2-1A state wrestling meet at Fort Hays State University's Gross Memorial Coliseum.
With eight qualifiers, the thought of competing for the school's first state championship wasn't a crazy one.
Considering the success of 3-2-1A wrestling, Hillsboro apparently isn't in the right part of the state.
Perennial western powerhouses Hoxie, St. Francis, Norton, Smith Center, Phillipsburg, and Beloit dominated once again.
This season proved no different with Smith Center, Phillipsburg, and Beloit rounding out the top three, respectively, with the Trojans coming in 26th.
Even with two wrestlers ranked in the top five, only unranked 171-pound senior Frankie Martin managed a medal with a sixth-place finish.
"Other than Frankie placing in the top six, it was a rather disappointing weekend," a discouraged coach Scott O'Hare said. "I am not disappointed in the kids' effort or their performance, just in the outcome."
O'Hare knows he has a talented team.
"I really felt going into the tournament that we had a few more guys capable of winning a state medal," he said. "I felt like the guys were prepared and they seemed ready. "
Seniors Alex Jost (112), Martin, Jake Yoder (189), and CJ Shaw (285) closed out spectacular careers Saturday.
Jost lost a heart-breaking match in the first round to John Redezke of Hoisington when he jumped out to a solid 7-1 lead.
But Jost got caught late and pinned with less than a minute left in the match.
His career ended on 10-2 loss to Oakley's Andrew Peterson in the consolation's quarterfinals.
Robbie McClelland (125) made his debut at Hays and drew a tough first-round match against defending champ Aaron Patton of Wellsville.
Patton pinned McClelland in two minutes, 51 seconds and his season ended with a 16-1 loss to Scott City's Dillon Stucky.
Another good thing that went Hillsboro's way came from fifth-ranked 135-pound junior Nick Mueller.
Mueller tied former Trojan Andrew Bina's mark of 36 victories in a single season, disposing of Ellis' Kevin Urban in the first round, 8-4.
His championship hopes ended on a controversial 6-5 loss to Lincoln's Tommy Knapp in the quarterfinals.
Mueller broke the record Saturday, beating Caney Valley's Brett Terry, 10-4.
Unluckily for Mueller, Norton's top-ranked Zach Bainter took a spill Friday, leaving a tough roadblock for Mueller earning a medal.
Bainter went on to grab third place, pinning Mueller in 2:15.
Mueller wrapped up the season with the best overall record of Trojan wrestlers at 37-6.
Tyler Jones (145) destroyed his first round opponent, Plainville's Josh Darnell in the first round, 11-1, setting up a match against his bitter Herington rival Darrell Melcher.
The eventual champ Melcher proved he still has Jones' number, pinning him in 3:13 in the quarterfinals.
Osborne's Martin Hojda eliminated Jones in 2:25, and eventually finished sixth.
Jones ended the season with the team's third best record, going 32-6.
For the second year in a row, Goessel/Hillsboro's 152-pound Grady Stultz drew the eventual second-place finisher in the first round, this time in state champion Smith Center's Travis Rempe.
Stultz pushed Rempe to the limit, but fell by an 8-3 decision.
Stultz advanced past the first round of the consolation by default, but stumbled 7-3 to Rossville's sixth-place finisher Colton Gentry, to end the season 25-12 and 1-2 at state.
Martin ran over Beloit's Brett Melton (6-2), and Oakley's Ethan Jirak (10-4) to guarantee himself a finish in the top six, and have a shot at a state title pending a semifinal win against Phillipsburg's top-ranked Ryan Swatzell.
Swatzell went on to win the title, pinning Martin in 1:30.
Martin jumped out to a 7-3 lead over Stockton's Tad Miller in the consolation semifinal match, but Miller took him down on his back and picked up the pin with two seconds left.
Martin's astounding career ended with a 3-0 loss to Doniphan West's Brett Dunlap in the medal match.
"I am especially happy for Frankie for earning his state medal," O'Hare said. "He has been a positive contributor to this program for a number of years and he is a deserving young man."
When it comes to tough breaks, the 189-pound Yoder knows a thing or two considering he's wrestled the entire season with a shoulder that's not 100 percent.
Entering the tournament as a second-seed and ranked third, he arguably had the best chance at doing something he'd yet to do — earn a medal.
Ellis' John Tricks couldn't stop Yoder with the Hillsboro standout pinning him in 1:50 to run his pin record to 25, and set up a quarterfinal match with Beloit junior Sawyer Krone.
Yoder jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Krone, but late in the first period Krone reversed Yoder on his back and the official unexpectedly called for the pin, dashing Yoder's automatic bid at a possible medal.
Krone went on to place fifth.
Needing a victory to keep his medal chances alive, Yoder dropped a crushing 8-7 decision Saturday morning to Silver Lake's Jason Mellies.
Yoder's sensational career ended with a 1-2 finish at state and 33-6 on the season.
Shaw had about the toughest draw of any Trojan, opening the first round against Rossville's top-ranked, two-time defending champ Duane Zlatnik.
The University of Kansas-bound Zlatnik pinned Shaw in 56 seconds, en route to winning a third straight state title.
Of Zlatnik's four opponents, only Cimmaron's Ross Addison lasted longer against Zlatnik than Shaw, succumbing in 2:14.
Shaw was awarded a default in the consolation's first round and beat Remington's state-ranked adversary Jordan Nolan, 5-2, to earn a match with Caney's Dakota Denny.
Needing a victory to get into a match for a medal, Denny was able to score a pin in 3:32 and eventually finish sixth.
Shaw wrapped up his season at 24-15 overall and 2-2 at state.
"I am proud of these eight guys, and the rest of team, for the way they worked and competed this year," said O'Hare. "We are going to lose an awful good group of seniors and they will certainly be missed next year.