Trojans primed for regionals
By RYAN RICHTER
With the Eureka Regional looming Friday and Saturday, the Hillsboro High School wrestling team appears to be right on schedule.
Hillsboro wrapped up the regular season Saturday, steamrolling over nine competing schools en route to capturing the Remington Invitational.
"As a whole, the team wrestled well on Thursday and Saturday," Trojan coach Scott O'Hare said. "Although there were a few performances that were not what we hope to see at this time of the season, overall, our technique is looking pretty good and the guys are wrestling with more intensity."
Four champions were crowned, and a trio of wrestlers snagged runner-up finishes while three more secured places in the top three.
For four years 112-pound Alex Jost has been a formidable opponent, qualifying for the state meet at Hays last year.
The one thing he had not achieved was a tournament championship at the varsity level.
That changed Saturday as the constantly improving Jost ran through Augusta's Aaron Cassell in the first match by a 15-0 decision, and pinned Dominic Matthews of Clearwater in less than a minute.
West Elk's Kyle Huntington took Jost all the way to the end, but Jost was able to grind out a 12-8 decision to notch the tournament title.
In three of the four previous tournaments this season, 135-pound and fifth-ranked Nick Mueller has made the championship match.
He made it 4-for-5 Saturday, bagging his third straight, and fourth overall, tournament championship.
Former Trojan standout Andrew Bina may now have reason to worry.
With a 3-0 finish Saturday, Mueller moves to within four victories of tying Bina's single season record of 36 two years ago.
Mueller made short work of McPherson's Max Archer in the first round, scoring a pin on him in 45 seconds.
That only left Clearwater's Justin Alexander standing in his way to the championship round.
Alexander lasted 11 seconds less than Archer as Mueller set the table for a meeting with Augusta's Garrett Emond for the gold.
Mueller scored the pin on Emond in the first period in 1:38.
Junior Tyler Jones (145 pounds) laid all questions to rest about mid-season struggles derailing his form.
To prove that he can compete with anybody when he's wrestling with intensity and aggressiveness, Jones took down Matt Anderson (McPherson) in 57 seconds, and scored a fall on Flint Hills' Nick Dunham in 3:15 of the semifinals.
Clearwater's Paxton Budd gave Jones all he could handle for three periods in the title match, but Jones was able to outlast Budd for a 13-6 decision to boost his record to an impressive 27-4.
Former Trojan standouts Ronnie Davis and Eric Cress have some reason to be antsy as well.
One more pinfall by the third-ranked 189-pounder Jake Yoder, and he will have tied the school record for most pins in a season shared by the duo.
It was business as usual Saturday for Yoder, who whipped Flint Hills' Jacob Martin in 29 seconds before shutting out Douglass' Joey O'Crowley by an 18-0 decision in the semifinals.
Yoder ran over Clearwater's Jake DeMott for the title, scoring the pin in 1:23, and reached the finals for the fifth in five tournaments this season.
Jared King (140), Zach Jost (160), and Frankie Martin (171) all made the title match, but fell just short of joining the quartet as tournament champions.
King automatically advanced to the semifinal round where he topped McPherson's Chandra Engel by an 11-3 decision, before having his hopes for a title dashed by Augusta's Nick Collins in a hard-fought 18-6 decision.
Zach Jost made his second straight championship match, taking down Remington's Brandon Streif in 1:09 in the opening match.
Jost advanced to the title match against Southeast of Saline's Jason Prater with an 11-0 blanking of McPherson's Brandon Berry in the semifinals.
Prater took the title, outlasting Jost for an 8-3 decision.
Martin has made the title match in four of the Trojans' five tournaments this season as well.
He beat both Josh O'Crowley (Douglass) and Flint Hills' Zack Trumpower in less than a minute in the first two rounds, and pinned Remington's James Mills in 3:57 of the second period in the semifinals.
Douglass' Clint Rapp dealt Martin a heartbreaking loss, coming away with the gold medal after a 5-3 decision.
Martin finished the day 3-1.
Robby McClelland (125), Grady Stultz (152), and John Hein (215) each snared third place finishes.
McClelland made a return to the squared circle in mid-January and is rapidly progressing, chalking up an 8-4 record and placing in two tournaments.
McClelland had his chance at wrestling for a possible championship thwarted with Augusta's Sheldon Smith scoring a pinfall in 3:24 of the semifinal's second period.
He bounced back in the third-place match, taking down Douglass' Paul Lopez in 2:36 of the second period.
Stultz made his final meet for Hillsboro memorable, as he'll represent Goessel High School for both the regional and possible state meet.
Stultz pinned West Elk's Reed Williams in 1:37 of the opening match's first period before losing by injury default to SES' Braden Long.
He returned to pin Remington's Cory Beck in 4:03 of the third period in the semifinal consolation round, before downing Williams this time for a 10-2 decision for third place.
Hein missed a good portion of the season through January but has recently returned from a shoulder injury.
He pinned Central Heights' David Green in 1:21 of the first period in his first match before stumbling by a crushing 12-10 decision to Douglass' Kyle Jones in the semifinals.
Hein was able to advance to the consolation title match, pinning Dillon Ward (Clearwater) in 2:16 of the second period.
He wrapped up the day 3-1 with a pin of Augusta's Steve Garcia in 2:21 of the second period.
"I feel pretty good about where we are," O'Hare said. "Most of the guys are doing some of their best wrestling right now, as far as technique and intensity.
"Hopefully this is an indication that we are peaking at the right time. I am hopeful that our recent success is a good indication of us being prepared for the post-season.
"We have four practices left this week to fine tune some things, then its time to see if they can put it all together."
The Trojans wrapped up the regular season in duals Feb. 7 at Marion, blanking Haven, 65-0, and Lyons, 64-12.
Hillsboro's final mark of 13-1 in duals ranks second only to 2006's perfect 13-0 record.