Runner-up finish at Halstead leaves Trojan wrestlers with questions


Sports writer

Even with a runner-up finish Friday and Saturday at a loaded Halstead Invitational, Hillsboro High School wrestling coach Scott O'Hare had little to be pleased with.

Sure, he was overjoyed at the fact Hillsboro finished only behind Smoky Valley, 152-117, but it was wrestlers dropping matches to familiar opponents that didn't set well with the coach.

That led to O'Hare issuing a challenge to his team: show the courage and hunger to win matches that are well within reach.

"Although it was nice to finish in second as a team in such a large tournament, it turned out to be a rather disappointing weekend," O'Hare said. "The dissapointment is not so much in the team finish, but more in the individual performances."

There was little to feel bad about on opening day as the Trojans won their first 10 of 11 matches.

The evening turned rough though, with several of the Trojans running into tougher competitors.

Only Tyler Jones, Grady Stultz, Frankie Martin, Jake Yoder, and John Hein managed to make it out of the championship quarterfinals.

The Hillsboro engine took a while to turn over Saturday, with seven matches being decided by a mere point and another by two.

"Although this is bound to happen in tournaments against tough competition, the disappointment is in the fact that we lost those close matches under circumstances where I felt we showed very little courage and determination to get after it enough to win some of those," O'Hare said.

"Throughout the tournament, we lost a number of matches against wrestlers we had previously beaten. This is very disappointing and shows that we have become a little complacent after some early success."

Nick Mueller fell in the 135-pound class to Cheney's Nick Hackett by a 14-8 decision, but Jones shut out Remington's Andrew Pace, 12-0, in the 145-pound division in the championship quarterfinals.

Mueller went on to finish third, winning by default to Circle's Ryan Salyer, and Jones topped Haven's Kody Wiggens, 8-4 in the consolation semifinal for fourth.

Jones closed the meet at 3-2, losing to Marion's Charlie Holub by a 1-0 heartbreaking decision.

Stultz advanced to the championship semis of the 152-weight class, downing Braden Hong of Southeast of Saline, 6-4 to set up a match with Hesston's Clint Jansen.

Jansen scored the fall in the semifinals in 26 seconds.

Stultz wrapped up the tournament at 3-2 for fourth place, dropping a crushing 3-2 decision to Fredonia's Jaime Thayer in the consolation final.

Martin tripped in the semifinal round of the 171-pound division, dropping a 6-4 decision to Bluestem's eventual champ Andy Davis.

Martin came back in the consolation bracket to secure fifth, disposing of Remington's James Mills in 54 seconds.

The 189-pound Yoder was the sole Trojan to make the title match, scoring a fall on Haven's Ryan Ruane in 2:35 of the second period to set up the title match with Garden Plain's Ryan Patterson.

Patterson wrapped up the title, getting the fall in 1:53 of the first period to leave Yoder with a 3-1 finish for the tournament.

Hein lost his final match by injury default against Marion's 215-pound Derek Riggs — a competitor he pinned in 3:26 in the second period in the quarterfinals — leaving Hein with a sixth place finish.

"Hopefully this tournament will serve as a wake-up call and show these guys that they must continue to improve and work on new things or others are going to bypass them," O'Hare said.

"Hopefully we will get back in the practice room this week with a renewed focus and get ourselves back on track."

The schedule gets no easier for the Trojans as they face another grueling tournament Saturday at Eureka with matches scheduled to start at 9 a.m.