Olathe North crowned five Sunflower League wrestling champions Saturday at Olathe North, easily winning the league crown for the second year in a row.
By CHARLES REDFIELD
Special to The Star
The Eagles scored 259.5 points in beating second-place Olathe Northwest by 99 points. Olathe East was third at 154 and Shawnee Mission South claimed fourth with 136.5 points in the 12-team league tournament.
“We wrestled hard,” Eagles Coach Josh Carroll said. “That’s what we preach in the wrestling room. We tell them to wrestle hard as you can and see what happens.”
And the Eagles won the league title without a single senior in the varsity lineup.
Perhaps the Eagles’ toughest bout came at 145 pounds when Olathe North junior Nick Haug got a reversal with just 12 seconds left in the third period for a 4-3 victory over SM West senior Aaron Taylor that improved Haug’s record to 29-7.
The bout was stopped several times because Haug was bleeding.
“I was bleeding all day and I’ve had a nose bleed since Thursday,” he said.
What happened at the end of the bout?
“He was too high and I grabbed his head,” Haug said. “And I pulled him down.”
Haug was injured last year, but was a league champion as a freshman.
The closest bout came at 170 pounds between Lawrence senior Ryan Bellinger and sophomore Sam Skwarlo of Lawrence Free State.
Both wrestlers got an escape in the three, regulation two-minute periods. Then they went to overtime.
There was a one-minute period with both wrestlers on their feet. And no points were scored.
Skwarlo was then in the down position for 30 seconds and couldn’t escape. Then it was Bellinger’s turn. He got his escape with 2.6-seconds left in the third overtime.
“With about 15-seconds left, I decided to use an escape called a granby,” he said. “It’s a very high risk move, but it worked.”
The two wrestlers met in the regular season with Bellinger winning in overtime.
The victory improved Bellinger’s record to 22-9.
“He is a heck of a wrestler,” Bellinger said. “This was huge for me. This my third time to make it to the championship (bout) and this is the first I’ve won.”
Olathe East senior Husayn Sultani overcame the biggest deficit. The 132-pounder trailed Olathe North junior Mike Kenny 4-0 after the first period.
“I’m confident on my feet,” Sultani said. “I thought I would be OK, but I knew I had a tough opponent.
“I wanted this badly. This is my senior year and I had never been a league champion.”
Sultani, who improved to 34-7, won the bout 6-4 with a takedown in the third period.
Lawrence sophomore Alan Clothier defeated SM Northwest senior LaPhonso McKinnis 18-6 at 182 pounds.
The win improved Clothier’s record to 25-1. He was voted by the coaches as the wrestler of the tournament. Olathe North’s Josh Carroll got the coaching honor.