Wrestling goes 1-4 at Dodge City Invitational

Kris Long , Sports Editor

Manhattan High Wrestling took home only one win out of five duals this Saturday at the Dodge City Invitational. Despite this, many of the individual wrestlers performed well over the weekend against tough competition. 

“I think our wrestlers were pretty solid,” senior Damian Ilalio said. “We went against some really good competition, the best competition that we’ve gone against all year and I feel like most of us stepped up really well to challenge. A lot of us got hit with some reality though. Some people lost their matches, some people had some tough matches which we haven’t had in a while. And that’s good for us because that just shows areas that we need to work on. And we’re always looking for places that we need to improve.”

The Kansas State High School Activities Association’s rules for this year meant the team went for two weeks without practicing over winter break compared to their usual five, leaving them with only the week school started to work on conditioning before the Invitational. 

“The 14 days void we had this year with the KSHSAA rules was a big challenge,” assistant coach Shawn Bammes said. “We’ve only had five practices since coming back from break… so it was definitely a challenge to get that rust off.”

MHS wrestled Dodge City, Valley Center, Garden City, Pratt and Emporia High at the tournament. They beat Valley Center 48-24 and lost their other duals. However, the score was tight in most of the competitions. They lost by under ten points in three other duals — Garden City 30-32, Pratt 40-35 and Emporia 36-42 — but fell to Dodge 57-15. 

“I thought we did well in the tournament but then I know…  we went one in four,” freshman Jameal Agnew said. “But I thought we did pretty well in the first three [duals].”

The team went into the tournament with three empty weight classes: #106, #182 and #220, due to one quarantine and two empty weights on the roster. This left the boys giving up 18 free points in every dual. 

“We didn’t lose by much,” Ilalio said. “You have to think about the fact that we didn’t go in with a 106, a 182, or a 220. Because each forfeit is six points, it’s like as much as a pin. So when you only lose to Garden City — who’s ranked second in the state — when you only lose to them by two or three points, and you’re giving up 18 free ones, that’s pretty good.”

Of those competing only no. 1 state ranked heavyweight Ilalio went 5-0, continuing his undefeated season so far. Agnew went 4-1, the only freshman to win the majority of his matches. Other above 500 performances included three juniors in no. 3 state ranked at #145 Blaisen Bammes, no. 6 state ranked at #113 Janzten Borge and #138 Tucker Brunner, and #170 sophomore Jaxon Vikander. 

Junior no. 2 ranked at #132 Easton Taylor took his first losses of the season against two ranked opponents —  Valley Center’s senior Alyeus Craig and junior no. 1 ranked in #132 Damian Mendez at Dodge City — both by major decision.

“His first loss was to the guy who’s number one, all class, in the weight class below him. And they actually bumped him up to wrestle Easton, and then his second one was to a kid that was a state champ as a freshman and that kid took second last year,” Bammes said.  “So they’re both very quality opponents.”

The team wrestles in a quad at Tonganoxie next Friday, then competes in the league tournament on Saturday. They expect tough competition at league, including no. 1 ranked team in Kansas Washburn Rural and no. 8 ranked Junction City. MHS is currently ranked no. 4. 

“We always expect to do well and I think we will,” Bammes said. “I think we’ve learned a lot this weekend. The coaching staff and I have some things we’re going to work on this week and we’ll get the guys ready to go compete next week.”