Third place leave Trojans searching for consistency
By RYAN RICHTER
One thing Hillsboro High School wrestling coach Scott O'Hare could be wondering these days is if he's watching matches in slow motion.
With the season rapidly winding down, his team has to be getting quicker, finding consistency, and getting better with technique.
Those could have been reasons why the Trojans took third in a Friday meet at the Hoisington Cardinal tournament, finishing with 117 points out of the nine competing schools.
The hosting Cardinals ran away with the title, beating out runner-up Cimarron, 170-129.
"Right now, the best word to describe our performance is inconsistent." O'Hare said. "The guys did a very nice job of following up the lackluster performance at Halstead two weeks ago with a very strong tournament last week at Eureka.
"We followed that up on Friday with an average or below average performance at Hoisington.
"Although we continued our stretch of top-three team finishes at every tournament this season, the concern is one again with the individual effort and performances. It seems as if we have stretches of moving in slow motion."
One that wasn't moving in slow motion was 135-pound Nick Mueller — the Trojans' sole champion.
Despite suffering some early losses in the year, Mueller secured his second straight gold medal, beating Lakin's state-ranked John Lynch.
For several weeks, 160-pound Zach Jost has been hampered by an injury.
But he and heavyweight CJ Shaw both grabbed their first, first-place finishes in a varsity tournament.
Much of Hillsboro's individual title hopes have been resting on the shoulders of 189-pound Jake Yoder.
Yoder's been skating on thin ice the entire season, wrestling with a shoulder injury sustained in the third week of the football season.
But tragedy struck at an inopportune time in the title match against the state's top-ranked wrestler, Hoisington's Matt Engstrom.
Battling to a 4-3 lead through two and half periods, Yoder's shoulder popped back out of the socket, forcing him to take second place.
O'Hare said: "At this time, we are not certain as to whether additional damage to the shoulder was done. After it popped back in, it was sore, but the extent of the injury is unknown."
Five other Trojans captured top-five finishes with two bagging third place: Robbie McClelland (125), Frankie Martin (171), Alex Jost (112), Darren Mueller (130), and Grady Stultz (152) all took fifth place.
"Right now, we are at a point where we need to be polishing up technique and having things come more naturally and instinctively," O'Hare said.
"However, that doesn't seem to be the case. I feel as if the 'slow motion' is simply a matter of thinking instead of reacting. The problem is that against quality opponents, there is not time to think. By the time you do, it is too late."
The Trojans face stiff competition at 10 a.m. Saturday at Gypsum for the Southeast of Saline dual tournament.
The Trojans eared their first victory at Eureka Jan. 19, finishing 15 points ahead of runner-up Burlington.
Nick Meuller, Frankie Martin, and Jake Yoder each brought home gold medals in their weight classes.
Five other Trojans finished no worse than fifth place.
Hillsboro was tied with Burlington heading into the championship matches, but the three victories by Martin, Mueller, and Yoder sealed the first-place finish.