Braves wrestling sends nine to State tourney
TOPEKA - Talk about action-packed suspense.
The Bonner Springs Braves wrestling team kept fans on the edge of their seats at the 5A Regional Championship Saturday at Topeka Seaman.
The Braves walked away with runner-up honors, finishing 3.5 points behind champion Topeka Seaman, 154 to 150.5. Shawnee Heights was third with 144.5, followed by fourth-place Washington with 133.
More importantly, the Braves qualified nine individuals for the Class 5A State Championship Tournament in Wichita this weekend.
"I'm happy with the way we wrestled and I'm pleased we qualified nine kids (for state)," Bonner Springs head coach Randy Lowe said. "It's a little disappointing when you get that close to winning a regional championship and come up 3.5 points short.
"If we win one more match or they lose one more match anytime during the day, we are regional champs."
The eight-team regional championship turned into a four-team battle among the Braves, Seaman, Shawnee Heights, and Washington. Only eight points separated the four teams as they entered the championship round.
The Braves won six of nine matches in the finals. Individual champions were Donnie Shepherd (135) and Brock Peterson (152). Silver medallist were Eric Ratliff (103), Matt Middleton (112) and Josh Bosley (171). Third-place finishers were Chad Vandenberg (125), Jimmy Vogel (130), Spencer Buck (140), and David Bass (215).
Peterson had one of the evening's most exciting matches in the championship finals. He trailed Topeka Seaman's Brede Cowen 7-5 entering the third period. Peterson chose the down position. The two combatants battled until Peterson got an escape to pull within one, 7-6.
With 17 seconds remaining in the match, Peterson scored a takedown to secure an 8-7 victory and a regional championship.
The win was huge in that it not only made Peterson a champion, but at the time it gave the Braves a four-point lead over Seaman.
"One of our goals as a team was to be regional champs and I just wanted to do my part," said Peterson. "It feels good to be a regional champion, but it feels even better to know that we did so well as a team."
Shepherd, the Braves other champion, won rather easily in the finals. He had a commanding 13-3 lead over Washington's George Roath before pinning him in the third period. Shepherd, who also pinned his first round opponent, had his toughest challenge in the semifinals, an 8-6 overtime victory over Topeka Seaman's Josh Miller.
The victories earned Shepherd back-to-back State trips and improved the sophomore's record to 24-17.
According to Lowe, consistency has been Shepherd's toughest opponent.
"Donnie has a tendency to wrestle to the level of his competition," he said. "He wrestled really well. He is capable of being really good, but he can also get beat by guys who aren't as good
as he is. He is in a position where if he wrestles to his potential this weekend, he can be a state placer."
Bosley will take a 33-7 record to the state tournament after falling 8-5 to Highland Park's Grant Gould in the finals. The second period proved to be the difference in the finals as Bosley was outscored by 5-0 margin.
Bosley will face Wichita-Carroll's John Sponsel in Friday's first round. If Bosley wins, he will likely face Pittsburg's Daniel Peterson, who is 31-1 on the season and ranked first in the state.
"Josh has his work cut out for him," said Lowe. "Heading into regionals I thought he and Jimmy (Vogel) had the best chance of being state placers. Josh can still be a placer, but he got a really tough draw."
Ratliff and Middleton, both just freshmen, were instrumental in the Braves second-place finish. Their roads to the championship finals were similar.
Each received a first-round bye, pinned his opponent in the semi-finals, and was pinned in the championship finals.
Middleton has been impressive all season, sporting a 23-10 record. His victory in the semifinals avenged a loss earlier in the season in the championship finals of the Dick Burns Mat Classic.
In January, Middleton was beaten 14-5 by Highland Park's Jesse Cook. Saturday, Middleton pinned Cook in the second period.
"I was ready to wrestle this time," said Middleton. "I knew I could beat him (Cook), I just had to prove it. It feels good to go to state as a freshman."
Ratliff has come on strong as of late, winning six of his last eight matches. Both wrestlers are happy to be state qualifiers.
"This is what we've worked all year for," said Middleton. "We work hard in practice everyday to reach this goal."
Vandenberg, Vogel, and Buck each pinned his opponent in the consolation finals which is a big reason the Braves came so close to overtaking Seaman. Vandenberg is a first-time state qualifier, while Vogel is making his third trip to State. Buck qualified for State last year, giving him a second appearance in Wichita.
Bass won his consolation final match in dramatic fashion. Trailing 3-1 with less than 20 seconds remaining in the match, Bass managed an escape and quick takedown to improve his record to 26-14.
"I just went crazy," Bass said. "I figured I didn't have anything to lose so I might as well go all out."
Vogel, a team captain, was proud of the team's effort.
"I'm disappointed I didn't win the tournament, but I'm proud of how our team wrestled," he said. "Every person on our team contributed to our second place finish. It is awesome that over half the team is going to State."
Class 5A Regional at Topeka Seaman
Team scores: 1. Topeka Seaman, 154; 2. Bonner Springs, 150.5; 3. Shawnee Heights, 144.5; 4. Washington, 133; 5. Topeka Highland Park, 97; 6. Topeka West, 89.5; 7. Wyandotte, 59; 8. Schlagle, 24.
State qualifiers - 103 - First, Tanner Gardner (Shawnee Heights) pinned Eric Ratliff (Boner Springs), 2:38; Third, Vince Lambert (Highland Park) won by default (only three entries). 112 - First, Jeremy Wallentine (Topeka West) pinned Matt Middleton (Bonner Springs), 1:17; Third, Jesse Cook (Highland Park) pinned Jenson Newton (Washington), 2:52. 119 - First, Blake Cromwell (Shawnee Heights) def. Jose Labrador (Highland Park), 7-4; Third, Greg Hanna (Topeka Seaman) def. Bryan Garcia (Wyandotte), 10-7. 125 - First, Ricky Blount (Washington) def. Jake McKee (Topeka Seaman); Third, Chad Vandenberg (Bonner Springs) def. Josh Kutter (Topeka West). 130 - First, Darion Terry (Topeka West) def. Aaron Huenink (Washington), 10-5; Third, Jimmy Vogel (Bonner Springs) pinned Joey Bowen (Highland Park), 2:34. 135 - First, Donnie Shepherd (Bonner Springs) pinned George Roath (Washington), 4:51; Third, Josh Miller (Topeka Seaman) pinned Shane Reedy (Shawnee Heights), 3:38. 140 - First, Andy Herrera (Shawnee Heights) pinned Tim Burrell (Topeka Seaman), 4:49; Third, Spencer Buck (Bonner Springs) pinned Jamie Kutter (Topke West), 1:58. 145 - First, Jared Underwood (Topeka Seaman) defeated Tim Schwerdt (Shawnee Heights), 7-5; Third, Donald Holliday (Wyandotte) def. Abiyah Moses (Washington). 152 - First, Brock Peterson (Bonner Springs) def. Brede Cowen (Topeka Seaman), 8-7; Third, Justin Beatty (Washington) pinned Anthony Gonzalez (Wyandotte), 2:45. 160 - First, Joey Gutierrez (Topeka Seaman) pinned Patrick Jackson (Washington), :51; Third, Mike Mattox (Shawnee Heights) pinned Brad Goodwin (Schlagle), 4:22. 171 - First, Grant Gould (Highland Park) def. Josh Bosley (Bonner Springs), 8-5; Third, Patrick Allen (Topeka Seaman) pinned Abe Oshel (Shawnee Heights), 2:45. 189 - First, Robert Walker (Wyandotte) pinned Kris Hinrichsen (Shawnee Heights), 2:43; Third, Merbah Kurbauh (Schlagle) pinned John Miller (Highland Park), 4:44. 215 - Harold Thompkins (Washington) def. Matt Crosson (Shawnee Heights), 7-4; Third, David Bass (Bonner Springs) def. Brandon Mitchell (HP), 4-3. 275 - First, J.P. Price (Topeka West) pinned Nathan Gifford (Topeka Seaman), :29; Third, Marvin Robinson (Highland Park) pinned Curtis Stricklin (Wyandotte), 3:24.
Individual results - 103 - Eric Ratliff (2nd): bye; won by fall, 2:30; lost by fall, 3:42; 112 - Matt Middleton (2nd): bye; won by fall, 3:11; lost by fall, 1:17; 125 - Chad Vandenberg (3rd): won by fall, 1:18; lost by technical fall, 16-1; won by fall, 3:26; won by fall, 2:42; 130 - Jimmy Vogel (3rd): won by fall, 4:36; lost by decision, 7-5; won by technical fall, 15-0; won by fall, 2:15; 135 - Donnie Shepherd (1st): won by fall, 2:43; won by decision, 8-6; won by fall, 4:51; 140 - Spencer Buck (3rd): won by fall, 1:16; lost by technical fall, 21-6; won by fall, 3:28; won by fall, :58; 145 - Nick Border: lost by fall, 3:00; won by fall, 1:33; lost by fall, 2:32; 152 - Brock Peterson (1st): bye; won by major decision, 12-2; won by decision, 8-7; 160 - Chris Carpenter: lost by decision, 5-4; won by fall, 4:49; lost by decision, 9-2; 171 - Josh Bosley (2nd): won by fall, 1:05; won by fall, 5:24; lost by decision, 8-5; 189 - Jeff Burns: lost by decision, 7-2; won by fall, 3:40; lost by fall, 2:11; 215 - Davis Bass (3rd): bye; lost by major decision, 15-3; won by decision, 5-1; won by decision, 4-3.