The Rolla wrestling team made the trip up to Harrisonville to take part in their annual tournament on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 14-15. The Bulldogs had a great showing with six top six finishes on their way to a sixth place finish as a team.
The Harrisonville Tournament is one of the top regular season tournaments in the state and Rolla was making their first appearance this weekend. Head coach Marty Hauck loved having his wrestlers face some of the best competition they'll run into all season.
"It was great. It was a great experience for the guys. They really enjoyed it," said Hauck. "Every bracket had five to six kids that were ranked in the top of the state, several of them had two guys that are ranked number one in different classes, so our kids were excited. They were excited to see that competition and the atmosphere over the two days was almost like a State atmosphere. The kids knew every match they were going to see somebody solid."
Zack Fennell saw his first tournament action of the season in Harrisonville and he came out swinging at 126. Fennell dominated his way through the bracket, starting with back to back pins. A tech fall in his third match was followed by yet another pin before a fifth round bye. Fennell then got a first period pin over Pleasant Hill's Zach Redwine in the quarterfinal, before beating Webb City's Josh Copher 6-1 to advance to the championship. Fennell ran into a returning State runner-up in Dalen Moore from Carthage, but he pulled out a 7-5 victory to win the tournament.
"He looked like he was on a mission," said coach Hauck. "He did a great job. He looked outstanding. Every time he saw a ranked kid, he just dominated. The championship match, he's up 7-0 and we give the kid one point. He just wrestled smooth and smart after that to seal the win. All the way through, both days he looked solid. He dominated, pinning kids that aren't used to being beat, let alone pinned."
The weight class before Fennell saw another title match for Rolla, as Xander Sederburg had an excellent weekend in Harrisonville. Sederburg opened the weekend with a pin, followed by a tech fall and another pin. He then won a 4-0 decision over Willard's Oscar Martinez, before a 3-1 win over returning State Champion Brayden Bradley from Belton to earn a spot in the championship. Sederburg's run ended with a tough 9-1 loss to Ben Bohr of St. Charles, but he had a great showing in a second place finish.
"I can't say enough about Xander. He's another one that's on a mission," said coach Hauck. "He comes out and just wrestled flawlessly again, just wrestled awesome. He came up a little short in the championship match, but wrestled him great. He beat a returning State Champion form Belton.
"Xander is wrestling at a very very high level right now and it's great to see," continued the Rolla head coach. "He's smiling the whole time in the middle of matches, he's just a fun kid to watch wrestle."
Rolla also had a pair of fifth place finishes, the first of which came from freshman Hayden Fane at 160. After getting pinned by a two-time State Champ, Belton's Andrew Gamble, in the first round, Fane went on a great run. He started with a pin, before back to back tech fall wins 15-0 and 17-0. He faced off against Jerrett Villinger from Warrenton, who's the top ranked Class 3 wrestler at 160 and lost a nail-biter 4-3 to go to the consolation bracket. Fane then won back to back matches on an 8-2 decision and a pin to finish in fifth place. Coach Hauck was thrilled with how Fane performed in his first major high school tournament.
"It's outstanding, the only two kids that beat him were a two-time State Champion and the other is number one in the state and he only lost to him by one point," said the Rolla head coach. "Hayden looked solid all the way through the tournament. We're starting to figure out some things about wrestling at the high school level. He's only a freshman and he's wrestling at a big boy weight class. At 160 they're athletic and strong and there's not a whole lot of give there. He's wrestling."
Bryce O'Connor followed that with a fifth place finish of his own at 170. The senior opened his weekend with a pin, before getting pinned in the second round of his second match. O'Connor followed the loss with a 3-2 win over Grain Valley's Hunter Newsom, before adding another pin to his win total. O'Connor was pinned in his quarterfinal match, but finished strong with a 10-2 major decision, before pinning Raymore Pecular's Gary Hogan in the fifth place match.
"He's definitely changed his game from last year to this year and he's improved tremendously," said coach Hauck. "The coaching staff is very pleased with what they've seen from him. He's taking shots, he's taking opportunities that he wasn't doing as much last year and now all of a sudden his senior year, it's like the light bulb clicked and he's wrestling very very well right now."
Rolla also had a sixth place finish from Dathan Mickem in the extremely difficult 138 weight class. He won all three of his pool play matches with a pin, a 4-0 win and a 2-0 win. Mickem then fell just short in a 5-3 loss to Mexico's Kevin Duong to move to the consolation bracket. He then beat Skyler Smith from Warrensburg 3-1, before getting pinned in the fifth place match to finish sixth.
"He wrestled awesome all weekend," said coach Hauck. "He ran into some monsters that are in different classes. He wrestled very very well all weekend. Dathan is wrestling at a very high level, but he got to see some very very talented kids from some different classes. That's exciting to see and what we needed to see at this time of year."
The final medal came from Hunter Hoffman at 106. Hoffman cruised through pool play, opening the tournament with a pin, followed by a win by medical forfeit. He then earned an 11-0 major decision win, before another pin and a 6-2 win. Hoffman faced a tough match in the quarterfinal, falling to Helias' Gavin Adams 10-1, before pinning Seneca's Dalton Duley in the consolation bracket. He lost by tech fall in his fifth place match to finish in sixth.
"Hunter is a great kid and he's wrestling very hard right now," said coach Hauck. "When you're taking sixth place, you take home a couple of losses. He made a couple of mistakes and that's okay. He's learning and he's continuing to try things and he got better as the tournament went on."
The Bulldogs also had a pair of 10th place finishes form Justin McEnaney at 145 and Andre Ridenhour at 152. McEnaney went 5-3 over the weekend with three pins, who of which came in the consolation bracket. He ended the weekend with a tough 4-2 loss to Nikolai Careaga from Helias in the ninth place match. Ridenhour started his weekend with two straight losses, before rattling off four straight wins, the first three of which came on pins. His final win, a 10-4 win over Blayne Wieberg from Mexico, put him in the ninth place match, where he fell 7-4.
Colton Franks earned an 11th place finish at 182 and freshman Hayden Hicks rounded things out with a 15th place finish at 132. Franks opened with a loss, before getting first period pins in each of his next three matches. Franks was pinned in his fifth match, which sent him to the consolation bracket. He earned two more pins and a loss in the consolation bracket to finish 11th. Hicks earned a pin with 26 seconds to spare in his first match to get the weekend started on the right foot, before back to back losses. He bounced back with another win via pin to advance to the consolation bracket. Hicks lost his first two consolation matches, before winning 11-8 in the 15th place match to end his weekend on a high note.
The varsity boys will now have 13 days off before their next tournament, another tough one with the Kinloch Classic on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 28-29. Coach Hauck said he wants his kids to use this time to give their bodies a little bit of a break, since many of them went straight from fall sports to the wrestling room. In the meantime, the girls and the boys JV will host Marshfield and Sullivan for a tri on Monday.
"One of the keys honestly, in my opinion, is to give them time off," said coach Hauck. "They've had a full semester, most of them were playing football, then they went straight from football to wrestling and they only had two or three days off over Thanksgiving break."