EL DORADO, Kan.—In El Dorado’s new gym, there are plenty of reminders of past athletic accomplishments. But there is one group who is not well represented. After starting the week ranked No. 9 in 4A, and firing off a 51-15 win in a dual over Winfield, senior Bryce Morgan and the Wildcats are ready to change that.
“As you see, we don’t have any wrestling banners around here,” said Morgan. “This year is our year to get something up there. It’s going to feel good to say that I was a part of that, and that I helped earn that for the team.”
While regional tournaments are right around the corner, the immediate focus was on Winfield. And with the exception of three matches, the Wildcats showed why their goals are so high this year.
“We just continue to keep working hard,” said El Dorado head coach Wes Reynolds. “That’s all I can ask for. If I ask them to do anything, they do it. We are really starting to peak toward this last end of the month. That is when it all counts.”
El Dorado jumped out quickly on Winfield scoring 15 quick team points in the four lowest weights. Jake Leckliter started things off for the Wildcats at 106 pounds with a convincing 7-4 decision over Bryce Ledford. Reno Hughey kept it going for El Dorado with an 11-4 win over Cole Conover at 113 pounds. At 120 pounds Daniel Thomas picked up 6 points for the Wildcats pinning Caleb White halfway through the match. After 4A 126-pound No. 2, Bryce Morgan, got a 6-2 decision over Dylan Bowman, El Dorado had a 15-0 lead.
At 132 pounds, Winfield struck back. Trevor Smith won a 4-0 match over Kyle Macy to put the Vikings on the board. But at 138 pounds, El Dorado’s Cole Reinhardt seemed to take out the frustration of the 132-pound match on Chris Conover. Reinhardt wasted no time taking Conover down, and flipped him for an El Dorado pin just 41 seconds into the match.
Issac Bailey avenged the loss for Winfield at 145 pounds, pinning Greg Matthews with 35 seconds left in the match. Matthews had been in control until Bailey caught him off guard to get the dramatic pin.
Gage Armstrong got the six points back for El Dorado in a flash. At 152 pounds, Armstrong pinned Braden Mill in 20 seconds to put the Wildcats up 27-9.
The Armstrong pin set off a chain reaction for El Dorado. At 160 pounds, Caleb Wallsmith followed it up by pinning Tim Grammon in the third period. Kyle Call made it three-in-a-row for the Wildcats with a first period pin over Miguel Mercado at 170 pounds.
After a couple of open weights, El Dorado took a 51-9 lead into the final match. But as much as Winfield had struggled to keep pace, they do have an anchor in 285-pound Josh Horn. Horn’s ability to mix in the quick explosiveness of a 106-pounder with his size and strength has earned him the top ranking at 285 pounds in 4A.
Against Jacobb Burnett of El Dorado, Horn showed why he is the 4A favorite. After a first period spent feeling each other out, a second-period escape followed by a takedown for 3 points in the blink of an eye all but sealed a win for Horn. But unsatisfied with how Burnett was hanging in the match, Horn caught the Wildcat trying to escape in the third period and used the mistake to get a pin just before the final buzzer.
The win ended things for Winfield on a high note, but the night belonged to El Dorado. And with no time to rest, the Wildcats head to Rose Hill on Friday to face some of the toughest competition around in a two-day royal rumble.
“Tomorrow there is going to be a lot of competition,” said Morgan. “It’s going to be good to help get us ready for what matters most, which is regionals and state.”