|Nine wrestlers place at regionals; three claim championship|
|Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt|
With three regional champions, one runner-up, one third place, one fourth, one fifth and two sixths, the HHS wrestling team tied for fourth in the Region 3 Tournament in Akron Feb. 13-14.
Six Dragons earned berths in the state tournament bracket Feb. 19-21 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Returning state champion Chad Stroh won the 125 lb. regional championship. Teammates Mark Edmonds and Luke Garrett also claimed first-place regional honors at 103 and 160 lbs., respectively.
Skyler Dittmer finished as regional runner-up at 130, Brian Strong third at 119 and Broc Pelle fourth at 140 to qualify for the state mats.
Seth Baker fought back hard in the losers’ bracket to place fifth at 135 lbs., but he’d already wrestled the fourth-place finisher, so couldn’t challenge for the chance to wrestle at state.
Also gaining points for the Dragons with their sixth-place finishes were Mitch Wittman at 171 lbs. and Casey Sage at 189.
“Every single one of these kids (state qualifiers) has the ability to place at state,” said coach Duane Stroh with much optimism.
“I believe extra hard work is why we had such a successful regional tournament,” said Stroh. As a result, the qualifiers planned two-a-day practices the week of the state tourney.
“I’m excited to take them to state and glad to be their coach,” added Stroh.
Stroh looks for
second state championship
At 125 lbs., junior Chad Stroh hopes to repeat as state champion this week. Coach Stroh noted Chad is wrestling extremely well, he’s tearing up his competition, is extremely confident and is healthy. He’s excited about going to state.
At regionals, Stroh dominated everyone in his bracket. He pinned Justin Bull of Akron in 1:17, pinned Scotty Shahid of Merino in 2:22 and won a 13-2 major decision over Buddy Watson of Wiggins in the finals.
Edmonds wins regionals
as a freshman
Freshman Mark Edmonds has shown his strength throughout his first high school wrestling season, winning a 103 lb. regional championship and a trip to state.
Edmonds had an outstanding regional tourney and an outstanding season so far, noted coach Stroh. “He’s going in as #1 from the region, exactly where he hoped to be,” added the coach.
At regionals, Edmonds drew byes in the first two rounds, then pinned Austin Titus of Wray in the semis and won a 10-0 major decision over James Hastings of Merino in the finals.
Garrett pulls off upset
to win regional championship
Seeded #3 at 160 lbs. in the regional tournament, junior Luke Garrett upset the #1 seeded wrestler in the finals to claim the championship.
Being in good shape paid off for Luke in his final match, said coach Stroh. “In the third period, he hooked up a half nelson and pinned to win,” added Stroh. It was a come-from-behind pin, and coach Stroh noted there’s a reason Garrett won the award for most come-from-behind wins in the 2007-08 season. He continues to stay strong throughout his matches.
In regional competition, Garrett pinned John Barker of Merino in 1:08, pinned Chris Garcia of Wiggins in 1:24 and pinned Andy Taylor of Stratton in 4:58.
Dittmer wins semis
in quick overtime
Sophomore Skyler Dittmer’s semifinal match was one of the more exciting for Dragon fans. Coach Stroh noted it was apparent Dittmer was very nervous, as he wasn’t wrestling in his typical mode.
Soon, he got himself into a 0-5 hole, and the deficit widened to 3-10 by the end of the first period. Stroh said it appeared Dittmer had his opponent pinned a couple of times in the first two periods, but it didn’t happen. By the end of regulation three periods, the score was knotted at 12-12.
Dittmer hit a double leg on the whistle and put his opponent on his back for a very fast five points and a 17-12 semifinal victory.
In his championship match, Dittmer got caught on his heels right after the whistle and had to dig himself out of another five-point hole. The match ended in a 9-16 loss, but coach Stroh indicated it was closer than the final score showed.
Dittmer finished as district runner-up in a great tournament. He pinned Kenny Wallace of Byers in 1:00, won a 17-12 overtime decision over Alex Dorr of Wiggins and lost a 9-16 decision to Blayne Richards of Sedgwick County in the finals.
Strong third at 119
Sophomore Brian Strong had an impressive regional tournament to earn third-place honors and a trip to state. “He’s wrestling the best he has all year,” said coach Stroh.
Strong has been working the cradle pinning combination, and has had success with it, noted Stroh. He knew when he got into the semis against the #1 seeded wrestler, he would have to catch and pin him. “Two times, he almost had him,” praised Stroh. However, he ended up losing that match, but went on to win two more for third place.
Strong pinned Daniel Kappel of Limon in 4:48, lost a 2-11 major decision to Trevor Herrick of Sedgwick County (the eventual regional champion), decisioned Aaron Gross of Wiggins 9-1 and decisioned Daniel Kappel of Limon 7-5 to take third.
Pelle finishes fourth at 140
Freshman Broc Pelle has had an outstanding season, placing fourth at 140 lbs. at the regional tournament. “He is very strong and very athletically-gifted,” said coach Stroh, noting Pelle gets better at every tournament.
He dominated his first match at regionals, then met the eventual champion in the semis. He actually took an early lead in the semis, but the tough Akron wrestler pulled ahead. “Broc was in the match until the end,” added Stroh.
He had a dominating win to put him in the running for third or fourth. In that competition, Pelle fell in a match that could have gone either way, noted Stroh. The coach feels very strongly about Pelle’s ability to place at state.
At regionals, Pelle pinned Mitchell Harryman of Merino in 1:44, lost a 4-16 decision to Layne Crumley of Akron, won a 17-3 major decision over Jon Thurman of Hanover and was pinned in 3:34 by Aaron Erker of Wiggins.
Baker earns fifth place
Just out of the running for a trip to state, sophomore Seth Baker claimed fifth place in the 135 lb. regional wrestling bracket.
He wrestled a little conservatively in his first two matches, according to coach Stroh. While he won the first, he dropped the quarterfinal match, which was one he needed to win, said Stroh.
After encouraging words, Baker came back to wrestle much better and tech-falled his opponent. He then had a very tough match with Akron’s Jourdan Hottinger. Stroh pointed out Baker wrestled well, but he just didn’t match up well with Hottinger. He got behind early and could never recover.
That put him in the running for fifth or sixth, and he “kicked crap for fifth,” said Stroh. Unfortunately, Hottinger finished fourth, removing the opportunity for Baker to challenge, as they had already wrestled each other.
Baker pinned Peyton Ritchey of Wray in 2:44, lost a 3-10 decision to Dalton Marini of Wiggins, tech-falled Josh Frecks of Stratton 17-2, lost a 4-8 decision to Jourdan Hottinger of Akron and won a 13-3 major decision over Jacob Lechman of Sedgwick County to place fifth.
Baker has been up and down in his success level throughout the season, but has shown extreme skill and confidence at times. Coach Stroh noted he became victim of a tough draw two weeks before regionals, but he got rolling in a tough bracket at the Eaton dual tourney Feb. 7.
“We were hopeful for regionals, but will make the adjustments and make sure he is in the running next year,” said Stroh.
Wittman, Sage finish sixth
Senior Mitch Wittman (171 lbs.) and sophomore Casey Sage (189) finished regionals with sixth-place finishes.
Neither had much wrestling experience and hadn’t participated in the sport recently until this year. Coach Stroh was extremely proud of their effort, noting they’re both very quality kids.
“I would have loved to have had Mitch a couple more months,” said Stroh, noting how much he improved through the season. He said the same for Sage, but has the chance to have the sophomore back again next year.
Wittman lost a 0-4 decision to Josh Cooper of Stratton, was pinned in 1:29 by Tuff Gibson of Merino and lost a 3-8 decision to Kale Hubert of Akron to place sixth.
Sage was pinned in 1:48 by Benj Vigil of Akron, was pinned in 1:43 by Paul Campfield of Wray and was pinned in :52 by Ty Gibson of Merino to place sixth.
Price, Redfern end season
Senior Brandon Price (145 lbs.) and freshman Parker Redfern (152) both ended their wrestling seasons at the regional tourney.
Price hadn’t wrestled since junior high, and was coming along steadily through the league tournament, noted coach Stroh. “We had high hopes, but it wasn’t meant to be,” he added.
Price was leading in his first match at regionals, when he got caught and was pinned with one second left in the match. That was a disappointment for the HHS senior. He then lost a second match in the Friday evening portion of the tourney to eliminate him early.
Price was pinned in 5:59 by Ethan Florian of Akron and was pinned in 2:58 by Dan Divis of Limon.
Redfern is a freshman who has lots of technique and lots of athletic ability—just starting to grow into his body, said coach Stroh. He wrestled up two weight classes, so was small for the 152 lb. competition, but got experience in the regional tournament.
Coach Stroh praised Redfern, noting he started out the year well and showed improvement every week. “I’m excited to have such a talented young man on our team,” said Stroh, adding, “He has a ton of potential.”
At regionals, Redfern was pinned in 1:30 by Byron Davis of Stratton and was pinned in 1:48 by Ethan Merritt of Wray.
Merino wins regionals
Merino won the Region 3 Tournament with 205 points, followed by Wiggins with 192, Akron 162, Holyoke and Wray 146.5, Sedgwick County 120, Stratton 91, Fleming 70, Byers 64, Limon 37, Hanover 17 and Nederland 3.
Sedgwick County had the most regional champs with four, while Wiggins and Holyoke each had three, Merino two and Akron and Stratton one apiece.