BELOIT, Kan. - Smith Center secured the regional title early on during the championship rounds of the Class 3-2-1A tournament in Beloit on Saturday. More drama followed the second and third-place spots. Heading into the final four matches of the day, the host Trojans were poised to earn the runner-up trophy. Beloit ran into some tough competition to lose its final three matches, leaving the door wide open for Hoisington to move into the No. 2 spot.
Smith Center scored 143 points for a second-straight title. Hoisington finished with 119 points, Beloit scored 115 points, and Minneapolis grabbed fourth place with 108 points.
"The kids performed," said Redmen coach Brock Hutchinson. "Any time you can win a tournament late in the year you're probably doing pretty well as a team. I'm proud of our guys and the way they performed today. There were disappointments along the way, but everyone we brought to this tournament scored points. It's always nice when you can do that."
A pair of top-ranked wrestlers highlighted the end of the day. At 195 pounds, Hoisington's reigning state champion Wyatt Pedigo won his first two matches in just over a minute combined. In the finals he put the Cardinals ahead of Beloit in the standings with a pin against Trojan senior River Paul.
"I just kept pushing him," Pedigo said. "I've wrestled him two times this year and he leaves his head down. I knew if I kept pushing and he kept trying to shoot on me, he'd give me an opportunity."
Wrestling at 220 pounds, Ell-Saline's top-ranked senior Nick Davenport had similar success in his first two rounds. He pinned Beloit junior Creighton Johnson in the finals to keep his perfect record intact. Davenport placed third at 195 last year and has high expectations for state.
"Obviously I just want to build upon that and do better this year, and hopefully get the state title," he said. "It's been easier as far as not cutting weight. I don't think it's that much different for me than 195. I still have like I have a lot of the same abilities I did at 195 as I do now."
Minneapolis senior Tyson Villalpando also takes a perfect record to state. Ranked No. 1 at 182 pounds, he pinned his first two opponents before riding out a 3-1 win over Southeast of Saline's Sterling Harp in the finals.
Rock Hills senior Zane Colson returns to state for a fourth time, this time with a perfect record. Ranked No. 1 at 152 pounds, Colson made quick work of his first opponent in just 34 seconds. He pinned Smith Center junior Jacob Conrad for the regional crown.
"I've put four years of hard work and blood and sweat into this," said Colson. "I don't want to leave with anything but a state championship. The goal is to go out and dominate and win."
The 138-pound bracket featured the top-two ranked wrestlers. In the end, it was second-ranked Tristin Hauck, a senior from Minneapolis, with an 8-2 win over Smith Center junior Jaden Atwood.
Beloit freshman Tate Kadel made an immediate splash at 132 pounds. He ran into Lyons senior Chris Goans, a four-time state qualifier and returning state medalist, in the finals. Kadel dominated the match and pinned Goans in the second period.
"I just wanted to have the best seed I could get at state so I could place as a freshman and every year," Kadel said. "The feeling is great. I just hope I can do that the rest of my high school career."
Beloit picked up another regional title at 106 pounds as sophomore Mason Fuller tech falled Hoisington sophomore Quentin Boxberger.
Smith Center junior Colton Shoemaker, ranked No. 2, won the 113-pound bracket. Shoemaker slammed Stockton sophomore Markeis Spiller just seconds into the match. The tournament was delayed some 15 minutes while Spiller was loaded on a backboard and removed from the mat by stretcher. He was able to give the crowd a wave on the way out.
Minneapolis senior Austin Roth won at 120 pounds with a 7-3 decision over Republic County's Kaleb Talkington, ranked No. 3. Phillipsburg's Jacob Sisson pinned his way to the 126-pound title with a win over Ellsworth's Tyson Hall in the finals.
Lincoln junior Chantz Vath takes a 33-3 record to Hays after a run through the 145-pound bracket.
He defeated Southeast of Saline freshman Matthew Rodriguez 5-0 in the finals for just a second loss on the year.
Southeast of Saline senior Ruby Rodriguez, ranked No. 2 at 160 pounds, pinned Sterling senior Dylan Stewart for the championship at that weight. Finally, Hoisington's Joshua Ball picked up valuable team points with a pin against sixth-ranked Layne Wilton to win the title at 170 pounds.