NEWTON, Kan.—Andover Central’s Zac Gentzler expected a grind-it-out, tough match against Nebraska’s top wrestler in 120, Dante Rodriguez of Grand Island. Both guys came out strong but it was Rodriguez that scored the first point of the match in the third period, but Gentzler didn’t blink.
He stayed the course, kept his head and game plan on track and scored two points with a takedown in the third to take the 2-1 win.
“I knew I needed to get a takedown in the third, and that’s what I did,” said Gentzler, an Oklahoma State-signee. “I knew I needed to ride him out and that’s what I did.”
Andover Central as a team finished sixth with 124 points, just behind Colby with 128.5 points.
Grand Island (Neb.), the top-ranked team in Nebraska, won the 50th annual tournament of champions with 243 points, 65 points ahead of the always impressive Ark City, who finished in second with 178.
Newton edged Garden City by half a point with 152.5 to finish third, the Buffaloes fourth.
It wasn’t Genztler’s match that stole the show, though.
The final match of the tournament, the 195-pound match between second-ranked Dillon Archer of Newton and Nebraska’s top-ranked Chase Ries of Grand Island was a thriller.
Archer trailed much of the match on his home floor, but a late takedown tied the match at six apiece at the end of the third period. Archer and Ries both waited for the right time to strike, but it wasn’t a big takedown or a dramatic escape that won it.
Instead, it was a reversal that Archer was able to maneuver that gave him an 8-6 win in overtime to end the half-century-old tournament in a fitting fashion.
“Grit, all grit. If you’re going to win it, you have to be tough.” said Archer. “No matter what happened in this tournament, I’m always striving to get better.”
Ries and Rodriguez were the only two Grand Island wrestlers to take second place. Three of their counterparts took home championships in their respective weight classes.
Ark City placed four wrestlers in championship matches, but only Cody Eastman came away with a win. Garden City’s Michael Prieto beat Ark City’s second-ranked Logan Terrill 2-0 in overtime, Grand Island’s Edgar Silva beat No. 6 Dylan Cox 6-1 and top-ranked grappler Nathan Butler of Leavenworth beat Matt McGrew 9-0.
Those performances, however, were enough to take home some hardware and hopefully make the trip home a little shorter.
“We look at this as a stepping stone towards the state tournament,” said Ark City head coach Greg Buckbee. “It gives us a good look at what the state tournament’s going to be.”
In a rematch of an earlier match, top-ranked Sean DeShazer of Wichita Heights stepped on the mat and met Wichita Northwest’s second-ranked Michael Lindlar who has somehow managed to stay at 113 into his senior year.
The top in their class wasted no time in an effort to gain some sort of edge over the other. Lindlar took an early 1-0 lead, but a takedown put DeShazer ahead. The Heights star put another point on the board and it was too much for Lindlar, as he fell 3-2.