The Elgin Invitational proved to be as tough as advertise, with numerous quality teams and wrestlers competing at Pope John Auditorium Saturday.
“We have a saying in our program that pressure is a privilege,” noted Elgin Public/Pope John coach Trey Rossman. “When you’re not being pressured, life is easy and wrestling is not an easy sport. I told the guys it’s darkest before dawn, and we hit dark last week. Now we’re starting to see dawn. We’re going to keep improving and this is a small stepping stone to where we want to be.”
The 138-pound championship took almost eight minutes to crown a winner. West Holt’s Cole Laible and Central Valley’s Enrique Martinez battled to a scoreless tie at the end of regulation. After neither wrestler scored a takedown in sudden victory, and Martinez failed to escape from the bottom in the second overtime, Laible took bottom with a chance to win. Laible scored an early reversal, turned Martinez and eventually picked up the fall to capture the 138-pound title.
“I knew in 30 seconds I had to get an escape or a reversal,” Laible recalled. “Otherwise we’d go to sudden death and he could have chose top and if he would have rode me out, he would have won. I knew I had to have something big there in that overtime to get something to happen.”
Husky heavyweight, Jade Buss, won the 285-pound crown with a second-period pin.
Clearwater/Orchard finished third, out of 23 teams, in the team standings thanks to five placers, but head coach Dan Roeber was disappointed in the results.
“We got into a big boy meet,” Roeber stated. “We got 10 district teams here and we won some of those matchups, and lost some of those matchups. We need our young guys to turn the corner, get going and score some more points to close that gap between second and third. We need help from the young guys."
In the opening round, the Cyclones went 4-9 to start. Then in the championship semifinals. and the third round of the consolations, OC went 2-10.
The Cyclones bounced back to win all four of their consolation semi matches, one just won match in the final round, a second-period pin by Donaven Nolze.
“We started off slow with the young kids,” spoke OC senior Clay Thiele. “It was the first hard meet of the year. Last week (at the Stanton Invite) was to get into wrestling. We started slow, but when we needed pins, we got pins and we got some wins and we battled back to third.”
Clay Thiele led the area with a second-place finish at 195 pounds. In the championship match against unbeaten Collin Gale, Thiele fell behind 2-0 in the second period after a late reversal by Gale. The senior Cyclone scored an early reversal in the third to knot the match at two, but Gale recorded an escape with 20 seconds remaining and held on for the one-point win.
“I lost to the same guy last week (a 6-4 loss to Gale in the championship match of the Stanton Invite,” Thiele added. “Coming back and losing by one is an improvement. It gives you something to work towards for next week. You’re disappointed you got second, but you improved and learned. That’s what I have to go off of, work hard and work towards that first spot.”
Nolze placed third for OC at 220 pounds, while Austin Pokorny (170), Codey Snider (182) and Tommie Peed (285) each finished fourth.
For Elgin Public/Pope John, Luke Henn led the Wolfpack with a 3-2 record at “I went out there and tested the waters,” Henn said. “I didn’t know what to expect coming off of an injury. I gave it my best shot and left it all out there.”
Saturday’s invite was the first time for Henn competing this season.
“Missing the first few tournaments is kind of tough because the first few tournaments give you a lot of mat time, with it being a pool tournament,” Henn continued. “With this one being a bracket one, you really get thrown in there and you can’t do anything about it. It was pretty tough, but we felt pretty good.”
Other participants at the Elgin Invite included Cory Romej (138), who won one match, Norman Grothe (120) and River Romej (113) for EPPJ.
“We showed improvement from last week to this week,” Rossman remarked. “It’s not so much about the wins and losses, it’s about improving on the little things. They did that really well today.”
For the Cyclones, Rafe Grebin (126) won two matches, Anthony Ferris (106), Alex Arroyo (145), Houston Marino (160), Colton Thiele (182) and Logan Mueller (285) won a match, while Spencer Kester (113), Eli Thiele (120), James Kester (132), Tyson Rix (138), David Arroyo (145), Gaby Gamez (152), Anthony Marino (220) and Jaccob Bennett (220) also participated in the tourney for OC.
“Losing while we’re competing is good and I can take that as a loss,” Roeber said. “The big thing we need to do right now is finish matches. We lost a lot of early matches when we were up big and got thrown. We got complacent and didn’t take care of the small things. When you wrestle good caliber kids, that’s going to be a big difference, especially down the road.”
West Holt’s Ben Slaymaker (160) claimed third-place, with Rylan Olson (126), Jaeger Ogden (138), Jeremiah Kaup (182) and Grady Smith (195) competed for the Huskies.