Trojan grapplers win Eureka regional
Mueller, Jones, Martin crowned champions
By RYAN RICHTER
Concocting a team worthy of individual medalists is nothing new to Hillsboro High School wrestling coach Scott O'Hare.
Every year O'Hare has had individual wrestlers capable of winning a state title. He knows what he's doing, too.
O'Hare was named the Regional Wrestling Coach of the Year by the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association.
That success could have come from the fact the team finally took a step further this year, being able to compete for a state title.
After many seasons of coming close but not close enough, the Trojans put Class 3-2-1A teams on notice Saturday, mopping the mat with the competition at the highly competitive Eureka Invitational.
The Trojans proved they're a team to watch out for this weekend at the Hays state meet, waltzing to an easy regional title.
Hillsboro outdistanced itself from runner-up Wichita Independent, 158-130.5, with seven wrestlers securing tickets to contend for state supremacy.
Alex Jost (112), Nic Mueller (135), Tyler Jones (145), and Jake Yoder (189) are no strangers to the state meet.
But for Robbie McClelland (125), Frankie Martin (171), and heavyweight CJ Shaw, it's a new experience.
Mueller, Jones, and Martin all won their divisions, McClelland and Shaw each took fourth, with Jost and Yoder finishing as runners-up.
Grady Stultz (152), representing Goessel, was Hillsboro's lone bronze medalist.
Despite wrestling during the season with Hillsboro, his points do not count during regional or state meets.
"This was the best performance by this team this season," an exuberant O'Hare said. "They started off pretty well on Friday, but more importantly, they followed it up with solid performances on Saturday.
"I was very pleased to have five wrestlers advance to the championship match."
With Jost being down to his last chance to make it two years in row qualifying for Hays, he seized the opportunity, beating Caney Valley's Jordan Wunder in the quarterfinals with a 19-2 decision.
Jost went on to pin Bluestem's Kyle Hubbard in 3:54 of the second period to set the table for the title against Independent's Trevor Williamson, who scored the pin on Jost in 1:19 of the first period.
Jost goes on to face Hoisington's John Redetzke in the first round this weekend.
Andrew Bina's 2006 mark of 36 wins is in severe jeopardy at the hands of Mueller.
Mueller grabbed his fifth tournament championship of the season and his second straight ticket to Hays making short work of Erie's Kyle Paneck (39 seconds), and beating Caney's Brett Terry by an 18-4 decision.
Marion's familiar opponent Dillon Wildin was all that stood in Mueller's way of a regional title, and Mueller hung on for an 8-6 decision over his adversary.
Mueller opens the tournament facing Ellis' Keith Urban.
Jones also clinched his second consecutive ticket, running his record to three individual tournament titles on the year, pinning West Elk's Kamran Yahabzada in the first round in 1:27.
Jones outlasted Jayhawk Linn's Tyson Baher for a 12-4 decision and edged Independent's Derek Soucie, 4-3, in the semifinals to earn a shot at the title against well-known Marion foe Charlie Holub.
Holub went the distance with Jones, but Jones was able to get the 6-3 decision.
He will face Plainville's Josh Darnell in the opening round of state competition.
Martin has wrestled in five tournament title matches this season and secured his second championship of the year.
He beat Eureka's Paul Connors in 1:37 of the first period to open the meet, and Chase County's Alec Wold three seconds quicker.
Remington's James Mills had better luck in the semifinals, but Martin was able to get the pin in 2:46 of the second period.
Halstead's Sheldon Meitler had the worst luck of all against Martin, as he was pinned in 52 seconds for the title.
Martin opens his first and final state appearance with a match against Beloit's Brett Melton.
One wrestler blocking the way of the 189-pounder Yoder to the state title is Garden Plain's top-ranked Ryan Patterson.
Yoder took down Brandon Potter (Chase County) in 1:16, setting a new school record for most pins in a season, and edged Eureka rival Josh Stilwell by a 4-3 decision in the semifinals to earn another shot at Patterson.
Tragedy struck again with Yoder losing by injury default in the title match.
Yoder previously re-aggravated a shoulder injury Jan. 25 in the title match of the Hoisington tournament against second-ranked Matt Engstrom of Hoisington.
Engstrom is in Yoder's half of the bracket at state.
Ellis' John Tricks will see if he has any up his sleeve this weekend as he meets Yoder in the first match.
Stultz qualified for Hays for the second year in a row, pinning Reed Williams (West Elk) in 3:11 of the quarterfinals' second period, but dropped a 5-3 decision to Neodesha's Jamie Thayer in the semifinals.
Stultz rebounded to pick up a pair of convincing 16-3 and 15-1 decisions against Brad Terry (Caney Valley) and Aaron Wold (Chase County).
Stultz meets Smith Center's Travis Rempe for his first match at state.
Considering he's only been on the mat for three weeks, McClelland finished the meet a respective 2-2, stumbling 8-5 to Bluestem's Jacob Gray in the consolation final.
McClelland wrestles Wellsville's Aaron Patton at Hays.
Shaw had beaten Caney's Dakota Denny last week at Remington for his first varsity title.
Denny avenged last week's loss, pinning Shaw in 1:49 of the second period in the third place match.
Shaw will have his work cut out for him this weekend as he opens against the top-ranked, two-time defending champion and Kansas football signee Duane Zlatnik of Rossville.
"I am obviously very proud of these guys for winning the regional title, which is only the second in school history," O'Hare said. "They showed a lot of heart and passion this past weekend in the way they wrestled.
"The goal this week in practice will be to continue to improve on some technique and to mentally focus on what they have to do at state.
"These eight guys need to be sure they are not content with just 'getting there' but understand that they have a great opportunity in front of them."
The Trojans' quest for a state title begins at 10 a.m. Friday at Fort Hays State's Gross Memorial Coliseum.