What started out as a near disastrous Class 3-2-1A state tournament turned into a pretty remarkable weekend for the Scott Community High School wrestling team.
All four state qualifiers earned a spot on the awards stand and the Beavers pulled out an unlikely fourth place finish as a follow-up to last year’s state championship.
Of the four qualifiers, two were defeated in the opening round and Alex Kough nearly became one of the biggest upset victims before advancing into the quarter-finals.
Not the kind of start the Beavers were hoping for.
All that had been forgotten by Saturday evening as sophomore James Jurgens (120) claimed a state title, Kough (126) earned a bronze, and both Warren Kropp (5th, 160) and Michael McEachern (4th, 285) each added state medals.
The northwest regional established its strength, led by state champion Norton (129.5), followed by Hoxie (97), Plainville (83) and Scott City (68).
“Our goal coming in here was for the boys to do better than they’ve done before and we accomplished that with all of them. In Warren’s case, he reached the medal stand for the first time and each of the others finished higher than they did last year,” says head coach Jon Lippelmann.
Jurgens (34-5) had about as dominating a weekend as one could imagine, giving up just six points - three takedowns - while making his second trip to the state finals. Two of those takedowns came in the third period of an 8-4 championship win over Logan Bowen (Atchison County) after he had already built an 7-0 lead and the outcome was all but decided.
“I definitely felt I had something to prove this year,” says Jurgens. “I think some people felt I got lucky at the right time, or got bracketed well last year. This year I wanted to get my name out there and show that I am the best.”
He left little doubt that he was the best in the 120-pound division after winning by technical falls over Chance Stanton (Caney Valley, 16-0) and Haegan Schaefer (Silver Lake, 15-0). In the semi-finals, Norton’s Branson Addington grabbed an early 2-0 lead with a takedown - the only time that Jurgens trailed in a match during the tournament. Jurgens quickly established control and advanced into the finals with a fall in 3:33.
“James always seems to wrestle his best on the second day (of a two-day tournament), so having the semi-finals moved to Saturday may have worked to his benefit,” says Lippelmann. “Nonetheless, to dominate kids the way he did this weekend was pretty impressive.”
Kough is Third
Senior Alex Kough’s hopes of a gold medal nearly disappeared in the opening round when he narrowly avoided a stunning loss to Zach Turner (Southeast of Saline). Kough was caught in a headlock a had to battle off his back for nearly a minute before finally recovering.
Kough (34-6) erased the early 5-2 deficit and was able to get a 19-11 major decision.
As expected, the 126-pound championship was decided in the semi-finals when Kough met defending state champion Brandon Ball (Hoisington, 46-0). The match was scoreless entering the final period when Ball scored the only points with a reversal.
Kough came back to post a 6-2 decision over Willy Dieckmann (Atchison County) and closed out his career with a 10-1 major decision over Clint Rogers (Smith Center).
2 More Medals
After dropping their first round matches, Kropp and McEachern were able to work their way through the consolation bracket and claim a pair of medals.
Kropp (37-9) was impressive in winning his next three matches before dropping a 3-1 decision to Atchison County’s Taylor Scheutz in the consolation semi-finals. In the fifth place match, Kropp was a 4-3 winner over regional champion Braden Sherman (Fredonia).
McEachern (37-12) also responded with three consecutive wins in the consolation bracket, setting up a rematch with Rossville’s Cody Cooper, a regional champion who had defeated the Scott City senior 4-0 in the opening round. Trailing 1-0, McEachern was able to throw Cooper to his back with one second remaining in the match to get a takedown and a 2-1 win.
In the third place match, McEachern dropped a 3-2 decision to Mychal Kolterman (Onaga).
“It was a screwed up weekend with a lot of time sitting around the motel and we weren’t able to manage our diets the way we’d like. It was also a strange schedule once we started the tournament, but we worked through all those things,” says Lippelmann.
In order to avoid problems with the anticipated snow storm, Scott City made the trip to Hays on Wednesday morning, but were greeted by a town that was shutdown for two days. Eating establishments were closed down and the TMP-Marian High School opened up its gym which was shared by all the other teams which arrived early.
In addition, the start of Friday’s action was pushed off until 4:00 p.m.
“It was one of those weekends where everyone had to adapt and overcome some adversity,” Lippelmann says. “I was real proud of the way our boys responded. To bring four boys here and finish fourth is a pretty good weekend. That’s about as good as we could have hoped for.”