Wrestling wins senior night dual by one point

Kris Long, Sports Editor

One point decided Manhattan High Varsity wrestling’s senior night win against rival Junction City.  The team went 35-34 in a nail-biting, tiebreaker dual on Friday night.

“If there’s a tie in the team score, which there was, you go to the rule book and it goes A, B, C, D, all the way down. It starts with most pins, then the most forfeits,” assistant coach Shawn Bammes said. “This went all the way down to I, which was most first points scored in the matches. So we had to go through each match and see who scored first, and we had one more match that we scored first than them.” 

J.C. took the edge from the outset due to Manhattan’s empty #106, but MHS caught up in the middle weights, then extended their lead to 28-19 by the end of the #170 match. Junction regained the advantage with three consecutive wins in the heavyweights, their pin at #220 evened the team scores leading to the tie breaker.

The boys reversed the score after falling to the Blue Jays — coached by head coach Robert Gonzales’ son Tyler Gonzales — by one point last season. Junction is currently the ninth ranked team in the state, one below Manhattan. 

“I’m happy,” said #132 junior Easton Taylor. “Last year didn’t go our way, but this year we came out one by one to beat [them].”

Every move counted with such close competition. Wrestlers junior #113 Janzten Borge, freshman #126 Landon Brunner and #182 senior Ben DeJesus all avoided pins to lose by major decision against difficult opponents, reducing J.C.’s team points. Borge avoided a fall against fifth-ranked wrestler Zach Petrusky and Brunner against third-ranked Patrick Foxworth.

“We had a lot of guys that were underdogs in the match, but only lost by a few points,” Bammes said. “Little things like that are huge, and that attitude allowed the team score to be tight at the end. So it’s those little things that we’re proud of those guys for, keeping those matches as close as they could. At that point they’re wrestling for the team and we really appreciate that.”

Individuals also made their mark Friday, with Taylor — second-ranked in Kansas — pinning his way to his 100th high school career win against Junction’s Anthony Petrusky. 

“[It] feels pretty good,” Taylor said. “I was hoping to get that somewhere where I’d remember it, and I’m pretty sure I did that tonight.”

Four seniors were recognized, #138 Bryant Salas, DeJesus as well as heavyweights Damian Ilalio and Samson Jimenez. Ilalio and Jiminez didn’t get a chance to compete as J.C. lacks a heavyweight.

“I feel good and happy that I didn’t get pinned,” DeJesus said. “I came off from break and as soon as I got back I was quarantined. So, coming back [after quarantine] and not getting pinned, it was nice.”

The team has two weeks without competition before going into Regionals at Wichita South Feb. 12. They hope to keep up their form in the off-time before making their run at the post season. 

“We’re going to have some mandatory weigh-ins, and we’re going to have some simulated matches. We’re going to keep it so they don’t get bored,” Bammes said. “We’ll correct what we need to correct, so we’re going to make the best out of it.”