Tigers finish third in Kansas Cup
Tigers finish third in Kansas Cup
By CONOR NICHOLL
Fort Hays State University wrestling coach Chas Thompson called the second annual Kansas Cup "a novelty thing" and a "fun" event. The tournament gives a team an opportunity to earn bragging rights over its in-state brethren, but doesn't help the Tigers in the long run.
"We want to see who the best team in Kansas is, but it doesn't do anything for us as far as our regional and nationals and these upcoming duals do," Thompson said.
On Sunday, Thompson decided to rest redshirt freshman 149-pounder Mitchell Means, one of the Tigers' top wrestlers this year with a 22-6 record. Means, in and out of the national rankings, could have competed if the Kansas Cup had been a bigger tournament or an important dual. Means is expected to return Thursday in the home double dual against RMAC foes Adams State (Col.) University and New Mexico Highlands University. It is the final home action for the Tigers.
"His hamstring is just a little bit strained," Thompson said. "He is not injured, but he would have had to wrestle three matches and it's a huge match (Thursday)."
Without Means, Fort Hays finished third in the eight-team field that featured two NCAA Division II teams, a NAIA squad and five junior college squads. Fort Hays won the tournament's first title last year.
Labette Community College, a junior college powerhouse, won with 1041âÑ2 points and finished with five firsts and two seconds. NAIA Baker University was second with 821âÑ2 points, while the Tigers finished with 77.5 points. Past the top three, no team had more than 29 points.
"The Newman coach came up with it," Thompson said. "He wanted to host the Kansas Cup. It's going to be a traveling tournament and next year Baker would host it for the first time and the year after, it would go back to Newman."
Fort Hays, ranked No. 19 in Division II, collected three firsts and two seconds. Sophomore 133-pounder Aldon Isenberg, senior 141-pounder Andre Harrison and junior 165-pounder Travis Budke picked up the individual crowns for FHSU.
The Tigers also had two runner-ups with freshman 157-pounder Derek Koehn and 285-pounder Justin Glenn. Isenberg, ranked eighth in Division II, moved to 25-1 after he won by fall in 3 minutes, 38 seconds and picked up the title with a 14-5 win in the championship.
"I knew Aldon would do well here," Thompson said.
Harrison, a returning All-American, missed the first semester because of academic problems. The last week and a half, Harrison has practiced twice a day to return to his usual form. Ranked No. 5 in Division II, he improved to 14-3 with the championship and won his three matches, 8-4, 6-0 and 6-1, for his second Cup championship.
"He has got a few things that he needs to work on, but we have got plenty of time to improve on what we need to," Thompson said.
Budke, a Thomas More Prep-Marian graduate, moved to 27-10 with three victories. Budke, ranked No. 7 in Division II, continued his strong season with a win by fall in 2:13 and a pair of decisions, 8-5 and 5-2 in the championship.
Koehn missed nearly all of last year after he broke his ankle in the early season Bob Smith Open. This winter, he has improved and finished second Sunday, though did suffer a pin in the championship.
"He has looked good for us," Thompson said. "He has got a few things he needs to improve on. Wasn't very pleased he looked in the finals, but Koehn is definitely a very coachable kid, he listens to me, able to go back to the drawing board to see what he needs to fix for the future just to avoid those situations, getting caught on your back and pinned."
Glenn, a defensive lineman for the Tigers, missed most of the fall because of football. He has enjoyed a solid season and earned RMAC Wrestler of the Week honors last week. Glenn was tied 2-2 late in the championship before lost 5-2.
"Glenn has improved a bunch, but he still has to improve in a few areas," Thompson said. "He got exploited tonight."
Senior Tyler Gonzales finished third for the Tigers at 184 pounds. Gonzales, injured nearly all season, is still bothered by a knee injury: "He looks very good for where he was," Thompson said. ... The Tigers are 5-3 in duals this season after they finished second in the RMAC last winter: "We are a middle of the road dual team this year. We want to win every single dual when we come in and try to get that strategically done, but it's hard to do. But I like how we stack up against most of the teams in the RMAC. You never know. I think most of our duals are going to close for us whereas you saw us last year separate and win eight of the last 10 matches." ... Thompson confirmed that senior 174-pounder Chance Rencountre is finished for the season. Rencountre, one of the Tigers' top wrestlers last season, is under investigation for an alleged assault that occurred earlier this season.
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