Say this about the St. Thomas Aquinas wrestling team: The Saints know how to finish.
By CHARLES REDFIELD
Special to The Star
Aquinas had only a 19-point lead going into the first-place bouts at the East Kansas League Tournament on Saturday at Blue Valley West, but the Saints ran away with the team title. Aquinas finished with 243 points to 180 for second place BV Northwest.
“It was a good team effort,” 15th year Saints coach Lorne Parks said. “We had nine champions. It was a good day for us.”
Back in mid-December at the Johnson County Classic, the best the Saints could muster was a third-place finish behind BV Southwest and BV West.
But there was a reason for that.
“The difference at the Johnson County Classic was that we didn’t have three guys who were champions today — Gabe Gooch (113), Jake Elbrader (120) and Tyler Dickman (132),” Parks said.
For the first time at the EKL meet, the coaches randomly picked where to start the final bouts. On Saturday, it started at 152 and moved up to 285 and then back to 106 to 145.
It would have been tough to start with a better match.
Aquinas junior Zack Hoskins got a third-period escape and barely held off a takedown by BV Southwest’s Matt McWhorter at the buzzer for the 5-4 victory.
“It shouldn’t have been that close,” Hoskins said. “I had a concussion three weeks ago, and this was my first week back.”
Hoskins now has a 32-5 record.
Gardner Edgerton sophomore Dustin Williams — the Class 6A state champion in 2012 at 145 with a 41-3 record — continued his unbeaten season with a 21-6 technical fall victory over Blue Valley freshman AJ Totta at 160.
Williams is now 40-0.
“I’ve worked a lot more in the weight room,” he said. “And I have worked on my technique more.”
At 113, Aquinas’ Gooch pinned BV West junior Logan Mueller late in the first period. He improved his record to 19-0.
“I had a concussion in my second match at the Johnson County Classic,” he said. “This is my first week back.”
The Saints’ Dickman edged BV Southwest junior Sawyer Like 3-1 at 132 to remain undefeated at 23-0.
Aquinas sophomore Ben Ewing improved his record to 34-1, pinning BV Northwest junior Carter Tierney at 220.
“I won at 160 last year,” he said. “I have to keep working. I’m ranked No. 1 in 5A (by the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association).”
BV Northwest freshman Sam Elliott avenged his loss to Gardner Edgerton freshman Jacob Bonham at the Johnson County Classic with a 4-1 victory at 106.
“I came out more aggressive and I finished my shots,” Elliott said.