FORT SCOTT — It was another banner day for a pair of Iola High wrestlers Saturday.
TJ Taylor and Danny Boeken both took big steps forward to open the postseason by winning their respective weight classes at the Class 4A District 7 tournament.
Taylor, who has yet to lose a match this season, dominated both of his opponents to win the 126-pound class, while Boeken, at 220 pounds, earned second-round pins on his matches.
They will be joined by 106-pound Xander Sellman and Henrik Sieh at 195 pounds at the Class 4A Regional Tournament in Burlington at 3 p.m. Friday.
Taylor picked up some other hardware at Saturday’s competition. He was voted by district coaches as the KSHSAA Class 4A District 7 Wrestler of the Year, which encompasses all weight levels.
“Danny and TJ both have great opportunities to keep going,” Iola head coach Jason Bates said. “They’ve both worked hard and they’ve done what it takes to improve.”
Taylor defeated his opening opponent, Brayden Hermreck of Anderson County, with ease, taking him down early and nearly pinning him on three separate occasions before the period ended. The trend continued in the second period, when the referee stopped the match via technical fall because of Taylor’s commanding 19-0 lead in points.
Taylor’s opponent in the championship round, Paola’s Ryan Pankov, tried to get the early advantage, nearly earning two points for grabbing Taylor from behind. But Taylor was able to wriggle out of Pankov’s grasp before he completed the move. Within a minute, Taylor had Pankof on the mat. Thirty seconds later, Taylor had Pankov pinned.
BOEKEN had to work a bit harder. He cruised to win his first match, pinning Deric Cole of Burlington in the second period without surrendering a point.
But the championship match against Noah Nordgren of Prairie View featured an action-packed first period in which both wrestlers nearly pinned the other in the first two minutes and fought to a 7-7 tie.
But the action slowed considerably in the second period. Nordgren chose to start on bottom, a fateful decision it turned out.
Boeken never relinquished control, and kept Nordgren under wraps for more than a minute before flipping his opponent onto his back, and earning the pin with less than 30 seconds remaining in the period.
“Both of the boys came in pretty strong, pretty high in their brackets,” Bates said of Taylor and Boeken. “They’ve done a great job of listening and focusing on the little things they needed to adjust, and it paid off.
THE ONLY other wrestler to pick up a win Saturday for Iola was Wyatt Westervelt, in his fifth-place match against Sam Shore of Paola with an 8-4 decision. He went 1-3 on the day.
Sellman and Sieh both went 0-2, but will still advance to regionals since the top four in each division will continue.
Bates said both have opportunities to improve in practice in the coming week.
“They’re gonna have to really think about what they’re doing and how bad they want it,” Bates said.
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s wrestling postseason has added a district round, thus splitting the wrestlers to more locations to prevent overcrowding at single tournaments.
Then, after the regionals are complete, the top four from each region will go on to a special substate competition, again to keep numbers at each site lower. Substate is Feb. 20 in Chanute.
The top four finishers at substate will then go to the state tournament Feb. 27 in Salina.
Class 4A District 7 District Tournament
Xander Sellman (106 pounds)
— Ethan Bartley, Burlington, def. Sellman, Fall 4:00
— Jasper Allison, Fort Scott, def. Sellman, T.F. (20-4)
Damian Wacker (120 pounds)
— Masten Wright, Anderson County, def. Wacker, Fall :45
— Owen McManus, Burlington, def. Wacker, Fall 1:06
— Skilor Gray, Osawatomie, def. Wacker, Fall 3:45
TJ Taylor (126 pounds)
— Taylor def. Brayden Hermreck, Anderson County, (T.F. 19-0)
— Taylor def. Ryan Pankov, Paola, Fall 1:35
Wyatt Westervelt (182 pounds)
— Seth Carrow, Osawatomie, def. Westervelt, Fall :56
— Shawn Huffman, Fort Scott, def. Westervelt, Fall 4:15
— Westervelt def. Sam Shore, Paola, 8-4
Henrik Sieh (195 pounds)
— Wayne Rohrer, Burlington, def. Sieh, 6-1
— Cale Fleming, Paola, def. Sieh, Fall 1:46
Danny Boeken (220 pounds)
— Boeken def. Deric Cole, Burlington, 2:29
— Boeken def. Noah Nordgren, Prairie View, 3:32