6 SC grapplers are statebound; Jurgens makes late move to 145

Story Photo

Scott City 170-pounder Abe Wiebe puts DaJuen Chapman (Hill City) to his back for a fall during regional wrestling action in Norton on Saturday.

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Scott City 170-pounder Abe Wiebe puts DaJuen Chapman (Hill City) to his back for a fall during regional wrestling action in Norton on Saturday.

By Rod Haxton, editor
During this past season, James Jurgens had already established that he’s one of the top wrestlers in the 138-pound division.
Just being one of the best wasn’t enough for the Scott Community High School senior. He has his sights set on being the best and the two-time state finalist didn’t feel that was going to happen at 138 pounds.
Just a day before the Class 3-2-1A regional tournament, Jurgens decided to make the jump to 145-pounds - a division where he hadn’t competed all season. The move worked out well for Jurgens who finished third in regional and will be making his fourth trip to state.
“I didn’t make the decision until Thursday morning and, honestly, I ended up flipping a coin,” says Jurgens. “I figured whichever way I decided to go I’d have some regrets. I had to choose one (weight class) and stick with it.”
Jurgens (35-9) had briefly stepped down to the 132-pound division where he posted a 4-0 mark, but that really wasn’t an option.
At 132-pounds, Jurgens knew he would be facing Hoxie’s Tristan Porsch (36-1), a defending state champion. The 138-pound field included three-time state champion Brandon Ball (39-1, Hoisington) and Tribune’s Caleb Austin (40-0), who gave Ball his only loss of the season.
“I figured I had a better chance at 145. There are good kids, but no one that’s phenomenally good like 138 which has two of those guys,” says Jurgens. “I can compete with them, but I don’t know if I can beat them. I feel I have a better chance at getting a medal at 145.”
The decision, says head coach Jon Lippelmann, is up to the wrestler.
“We can offer our advice, but wrestling is so much mental,” says Lippelmann. “I’m in favor of going along with whatever a kid wants to do that he feels will put himself in the best position to medal. If your head isn’t right then you’re going to have a tough time no matter what weight class you’re in.”
The move to 145 seemed to work well for Jurgens who pinned his first two opponents before dropping a 7-3 decision to top-seeded and eventual champion Jared Tallent (Norton). He bounced back with impressive major decisions over Rhett Mizer (Atwood), 10-2, and Clay De Waal (St. Francis), 12-3.
“On Friday I didn’t feel that I wrestled well. The second kid I overlooked and he was better than I expected,” said Jurgens, despite getting a third period fall over Wyatt Murphy (Oakley). “That got in my head the rest of the day. Plus, this gym is so hot. A big part of my game is grip and it’s hard to hold onto someone who’s soaking in sweat.”
As for the third place finish coming out of regional, that’s familiar territory for Jurgens.
“I’ve placed third every year at regional, so that shows I’m not out of it,” he added.
Six State Qualifiers
Jurgens was among six SCHS wrestlers who qualified for state by finishing among the top four in regional.
The only two Beavers advancing into the finals were Zach Tucker (106) and Lane Hayes (285) who each finished second.
Joining James Jurgens as a third place finisher was his freshman brother, Jarret (132). Claiming fourth place medals were Cooper Griffith (195) and Wyatt Eitel (220).
“After last year, I’m pretty happy getting six guys to state,” noted Lippelmann, who had just two qualifiers for the Class 4A tournament a year ago.
Tucker (31-9), a junior, advanced into the finals with a 4-1 decision over second-seeded Estin Slack (Oakley), an opponent he had split with earlier this season. That set up a championship match against top-seeded Ryan Johnson (Norton).
After giving up a first period takedown, Tucker trailed 2-0 late in the third period when he was finally able to turn Johnson to his back with a cross-body ride. However, he was only able to hold Johnson for a two-count near-fall, briefly tying the match at 2-2, before being reversed with only 11 seconds remaining in a 4-2 loss.
“I was lucky to get him (to his back) in the first place because I was too high and falling off to the side,” noted Tucker. “Once I got him to his back I couldn’t keep him there. He was able to break my hands and I couldn’t hold him any more.”
Despite it being his first state trip, Tucker is very optimistic about his chances of coming away with a medal.
“I think I have a really good chance at state. I feel this was the toughest regional, so finishing second here really helps my confidence,” he says. “But I need to be more aggressive. I have to be able to score on my feet and I have to improve my technique when I’m riding.”
“Zach has to be focused,” adds Lippelmann. “He can’t get caught up in it being his first state tournament. And he has to be more aggressive on his feet than he was at regional. If he can do that, Zach’s capable of beating anyone this weekend.”
Hayes (27-13) was the number-two seed and lived up to that ranking by pinning all three of his opponents leading into the championship match. In the finals he faced number-four seeded Shakotah Blanka (St. Francis), an opponent he had defeated earlier in the season, but this time came away a 1-0 loss.
Scott City (112) finished third in the team standings behind Norton (217.5) and Smith Center (113.5).
Bronze for Jurgens
Jarret Jurgens (20-8) had an outstanding weekend, earning his first trip to the state tournament. The number-four seed at 132-pounds, Jurgens rolled into the semi-finals with a fall and a major decision where he faced top-seeded and defending state champion Tristan Porsch (Hoxie). Jurgens, however, turned in a real strong performance, losing by a 5-0 decision.
He followed that with a huge 4-2 decision over Trenton Wright (Norton) in the consolation semi-finals to guarantee himself a trip to state. Jurgens closed out the tournament with a 6-1 win over Kobe Armbruster (Ellis).
“Jarret showed a lot when he wrestled Porsch such a good match. He’s going to be a handful for anyone to deal with at state,” says Lippelmann.
One of the big questions coming out of regional is the status of Griffith who defaulted his final match because of a knee injury. Griffith has been wearing a brace on his left knee that sustained a meniscus injury during football season. Griffith was leading 5-0 in his consolation semi-final match against Dalton Kuhn (Smith Center) when his right knee was injured. Griffith was able to complete the match and come away with a 6-0 win, guaranteeing him a trip to state.
Early in the week, Lippelmann was unsure of Griffith’s status.
“We’re optimistic that he’ll be close to 100 percent. Hopefully, it’s only a strain,” says the head coach. “We’ll see how much pain Coop is in this week and whether he’ll have to wear another brace.”
Griffith (29-4) entered regional as the number-two seed, but lost a 7-2 decision in the semi-finals to Jordan Dole (Norton).
Eitel (27-18) continues to be one of the big surprises for the Beavers after earning his first state trip. It’s been a very solid season for the senior who had to make the move from 195-pounds to 220 following the return of Griffith to the lineup after Christmas.
“I felt I could still have a pretty good season, but I wasn’t sure I’d do this well,” says Eitel, who hadn’t wrestled a full season for the Beavers since his freshman year. “I feel that I’m a little quicker than some (at 220), but not everyone. There are some who are just as quick or quicker than me, and some have more power since I’ve moved up a weight class, so those are my toughest matches. Overall, I feel I’ve been able to hold my own against most everyone.”
Eitel proved that in the semi-finals when he was able to get a takedown against top-seeded A.J. Cooper (Cimarron) before losing by a second period fall. He came back to defeat Kyler Zweygardt (St. Francis), 10-3, to earn a regional medal and trip to state.
“Before the season I felt I might win maybe 50 percent of my matches. After the (Rocky) Welton, then I felt for sure that I was good enough to make it to state,” says Eitel, who medaled at every meet this season with the exception of the Norton Invitational.
The only regret for Eitel and Lippelmann is that the senior didn’t wrestle all four seasons.
“I’d like to think how good he could be right now if he had,” says Lippelmann. “He’s shown a lot of improvement this season. He’s not afraid to be aggressive and take chances. I like seeing that in a wrestler.”
Coming up one win short of earning a trip to state were Wyatt Kropp (160) and Abe Wiebe (170).

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