First Mustang wrestlers to qualify for state tournament
CHANUTE — It was a historic weekend for Iola High sports at the 2010 Kansas Class 4A Regional Wrestling Tournament at Chanute High School.
Iola High juniors Marcus Sullivan and Chris Lynn became the first state tournament qualifiers in wrestling. Iola is in just its second year of competitive high school wrestling.
The 2009-2010 season was the first full varsity season for the Mustangs. Iola had nine wrestlers enter the two-day regional tournament.
Sullivan qualified first on Saturday. Iola’s 160-pound wrestler came up with three points in the third period on his way to a 7-3 win over Damion Tinnin of Columbus.
The victory came in the consolation semifinals. It put Sullivan in the 160-pound third-place match.
“I was almost in tears,” Sullivan said about the win, putting him in position to go to state. “It meant all my hard work — all the hard work put in by the team and the coaches — had paid off.”
Next in the consolation semifinals came Lynn at 285 pounds. Lynn faced Drew Bryant of Fort Scott, a wrestler he had lost to during Southeast Kansas League competition.
After a scoreless first period, Bryant scored an escape in the second to go up 1-0. Lynn did the same in the third period.
Neither wrestler could come up with a takedown before regulation ran out. Tied at 1-1, the match moved into a one-minute overtime period — the first takedown wins.
Lynn came up with a takedown late in the period to win 3-1. That set up a rematch of an earlier quarterfinal match between Lynn and Damone Hatch of Independence.
Hatch came into the regional ranked fourth in Class 4A. Lynn pinned Hatch Friday.
In the third-place match, Hatch was up 4-1 after two periods. Lynn controlled Hatch as the third period began, never allowing the lighter Hatch to move from the bottom spot.
Finally, Lynn got the leverage he needed with a half-nelson and flipped Hatch to his back. Lynn pinned Hatch at the 4:13 mark and secured the bronze medal.
“It’s amazing,” Lynn said of the whole situation — qualifying for state, taking third and pinning Hatch twice. “This is the best experience of my life. I put in a lot of hard work for this day to happen.
“I just had more heart then he did. I had the will to get third.”
For Sullivan, the third-place match was also a rematch of sorts. Earlier this season, Sullivan wrestled Joseph Wittman of Anderson County and lost “by six points.”
Sullivan and Wittman faced each other Saturday and Wittman led 5-0 before Sullivan snatched a takedown to score two points. Wittman went on to win 6-2.
“I was disappointed to not win that match but it was a better match for me against him,” Sullivan said. “It’s exciting to be going to state.
“It not just good for me but for our team. Without the other guys on the team who pushed me every day in practice, I wouldn’t be here.”
Sullivan has only been wrestling for two years. Lynn, who wrestled in youth programs, is in his first year of high school wrestling.
“The regional tournament always has its highs and lows,” said Ron Schomaker, Mustang head coach.
“Getting two kids to state in our second year was huge for us. I really think that it’s something we can build off of to make this program be more successful each year.
“Marcus and Chris battled tough throughout the tournament.”
Freshman Stephen McDonald reached the consolation quarterfinals at 189 pounds for the Mustangs. McDonald pinned Prairie View High’s Jordan Halaquist in 5:10 to open action Saturday.
McDonald faced Chanute High’s Skylar McGinnis in the quarterfinals. McGinnis defeated McDonald 9-2.
In Saturday’s opening round of consolation action, Iola had five wrestlers lose out.
Freshman Zeph Larney was pinned by Prairie View’s Tyler Brown in 29 seconds at 125 pounds. In the 135-pound class, junior Lee Berg was pinned by Chase Wells of Augusta in 2:26.
Freshman Joe Myrick was pinned by El Dorado’s Jordan Holladay in 3:37. Sophomore Devin Culler lost by a technical fall, 17-0, to Blake Cowen of Fort Scott at 152 and junior Drew Shepherd was pinned by Eastin Dockers of Rose Hill in 5:08 at 171.
“It is always tough for me to talk to the wrestlers when their season ends without qualifying for state because they worked so hard to get there,” Schomaker said. “Everyone turned it loose and wrestled hard. For some it was a good learning experience in a big-time atmosphere that should help us for next year.”
Sullivan and Lynn head to Salina this coming Friday and Saturday for the 2010 Kansas Class 4A State Wrestling Tournament. Wrestling begins at 9 a.m. Friday at the Bicentennial Center.
“Getting to state is a great accomplishment. Now we can set our sights on wrestling well and winning some matches,” Schomaker said.
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