Something looked out of place on the scoreboard at the 4A wrestling regional in Augusta on Saturday.
Andale, winners of two straight team championships, were listed in third place. At the top was El Dorado, a squad that has not finished its season higher than 16th the past two seasons.
Left is right and up is down – El Dorado is a state title contender.
“The opportunity is there. Coming here, doing what we did – that's wrestling,” said El Dorado coach Wes Reynolds. “Anything can happen, though.”
Fittingly, Reynolds was named regional coach of the year after pushing the Wildcats to 174 points. That number was 16-1/2 more than Augusta, who placed second.
Reynolds credits a passionate senior class. El Dorado will take nine wrestlers to the 4A state tourney. Included in that are Bryce Morgan (126 pounds) and Austin Hughey (145), who both captured individual crowns at regionals.
“I think that was the number we were looking at,” he said. “I'm happy with the nine we got. We're all going to keep working hard, go one more week and see what we can do at the big show.”
This is not an open and shut case, though. The title still runs through Andale.
The Indians will only take five to state this year. The numbers game works against them, as those five need to be nearly perfect to capture a third consecutive title. But considering the talent, it is not out of the realm of possibility.
Tyler Mies (120), Kyle Armstrong (160), Levi Eck (182) and Derrick Gates (195) are all regional champs.
“We definitely don't have as many as past years, but we have a lot of people who can be finals, top four, top six,” said Eck, an individual champion a year ago. “Hopefully we can get all of our points like that and maybe get another state title.”
Then there is Augusta. The Orioles are following a similar trajectory to El Dorado – Augusta was not even in the top 20 at state in 2012. The Orioles are not ranked in 4A this year, either.
But like El Dorado, Augusta will ship off nine to try to break tradition. Among them is Jake Goldenstein, who will tow along a perfect 38-0 record at 106 pounds.
Goldenstein said Augusta has not been getting the attention it deserves, but the Orioles don't mind.
“We got nothing at all,” Goldenstein said. “I definitely feel like we made a statement.
“No doubt, we're going to try to win it.”
Pratt's Cesar Regalado (113) and Austin Gates (220) delivered workmanlike efforts to take regional titles. The Greenbacks will take five wrestlers to state.
Mulvane will also bring five. Logan Elliott (138) scored a pin in the third period to climb the podium at regionals. Kolby Fennewald (170) earned a tight 1-0 triumph over Darick Jones of Clearwater.
Fennewald is 39-1. His only loss came earlier in the season to Jones.
“It was important for Kolby. I think he's been waiting for this match for a couple weeks, to come back and get another shot at him,” said Mulvane coach Rick Langerot. “It's a good feeling for him, but he'll probably run into him at the state tournament again. We'll do it all over again next week, probably.”
Rose Hill's Jake Wilson won his third regional title, this time at 132 pounds. Winfield's Josh Horn (285) earned a decision win, and will be one of four Vikings moving on. Buhler's Jake Gehring (152) picked up a victory to tout an unblemished record heading into the big tourney.
Ulysses had no champions during regionals, but qualified seven for state.