HAYS — For the second straight day, the Humboldt wrestling team was dealt a tough hand in the opening round of the state wrestling tournament Saturday.
The Cubs had to open the tournament Friday morning versus four opponents ranked in the top-five in the state. On Saturday, two of the three remaining Cubs had to face ranked competition to start while the other, junior Dagen Goodner, had to face a wrestler that he’d wrestled and lost to three times before.
The double-elimination safety net was gone for all three wrestlers and one by one, each fell and was knocked out of the state tournament.
“It’s a little emotional because I’ve got two seniors with me who have been here since the beginning and it’s the last tournament with them,” head coach Kent Goodner said.
“It’s pretty emotional, I’m going to miss them. I wasn’t ready for the ride to be over but we did the best we could.”
Sophomore Gunner Elder, 126 pounds, started things off against Russell’s Chandler Schoenberger, who came into Saturday’s match with a 32-11 record and sixth-place state ranking.
Elder held tough and was able to get several takedowns before eventually falling by pin in 2:18. Schoenberger went on to place fifth.
Dagen Goodner (182 pounds) took the mat next and after a grind-it-out 3-2 win on Friday to advance to Saturday’s second consolation round, he came against a familiar Tri-Valley foe in Leon-Bluestem’s Coy Moran (36-7).
Moran and Goodner had faced off three times going into Saturday and Goodner had caught the rough end of it each time. Saturday was no different.
Both wrestlers fought hard into overtime but a late takedown sealed the match for Moran in a 3-2 ultimate tiebreak.
“That’s the second match that we’ve had that’s gone to triple-overtime,” Dagen Goodner said. “He plays a lot of defense and I was just trying to get a takedown and when overtime came, he won the coin flip. That’s just luck of the draw.”
Goodner will return for the Cubs next year as a senior and he along with his fellow seniors will be the first group of wrestlers to play all four years of the program’s four-year existence.
“This definitely gives me some motivation,” Goodner said. “I’ve wrestled my whole life so next year I just need to put in the work and trust in God and just come back and hopefully get on the podium next year.”
The Cubs ended their day with senior Noah Johnson’s (220 pounds) final match of his wrestling career. Johnson got his first state win on Friday but could not get his second as he fell by pin in 1:58 to Chaparral’s Adrian Gerber who was ranked fifth in the state and finished fifth in the tournament.
“We started this program my sophomore year and three-fourths of the way in I was still learning the most simple things in wrestling,” Johnson said. “Now that I’m in my third season, I got my first win at state which is huge progress. I think this program is on a great track and I was happy to be a part of it.
“It’s been great to see how far we’ve come and the potential that we have going forward has been great. It’s good that all the students at Humboldt have another option aside from basketball. They have a chance to be good at something else.”
The Cubs ended up in 46th place overall with seven total team points. Humboldt will return two state qualifiers next season in Goodner and Elder along with four other varsity wrestlers who got good experience over the 2018 season.
“We’ve got some good quality kids coming up,” Coach Goodner said. “We’re going to keep getting better every year.”
PHOTO: On top, senior Noah Johnson grabs Sylvan Grove’s Tra Barrientes by the leg in his win on Friday at the 3-2-1A State Wrestling Tournament in Hays.