De Soto wrestlers earn top-10 state finish
Erisman once again falls seconds short in quest for individual state title
For Neil Erisman there was no "third time is the charm" and no state pin record, but plenty of disappointment when Columbus' Nick Zahm squeaked out a last-second takedown to win the 152-pound wrestling championship in Wichita.
Zahm's winning move in the championship match gave the three-time state medalist his first state title with a 7-5 victory over the previously undefeated Wildcat.
The loss means Erisman will have to wait another year to get his first state championship. As a freshman, Erisman was leading late in the first round of the championship match when a stalling call forced overtime. Last year, Erisman settled for third.
Erisman, who is 101-4 in his high school career (his only other loss was in Oklahoma to a state champion from that state), came out strong early in the match and eventually built a 5-2 lead after nearly pinning Zahm a couple of times. But the slippery senior was able to kick his way out of it each time.
"That kid (Zahm) is a great wrestler," De Soto wrestling coach Matt Jones said. "It was a good hard-fought match by both wrestlers."
The De Soto junior wrestled his way into the championship match by winning three matches in Friday's opening round at the Kansas Coliseum.
The former national champion battled his way into the finals with a 16-0 technical fall rout of Ulysses' James Gerstberger. Then he pinned Clay Center's Kyle Allen and Chapman's Ben Smith in the third and first periods, respectively.
Zahm guaranteed a rematch with Erisman by pinning Sumner Academy's Arreola Miguel in the semifinals. The champion, who owns an 11-6 record at the state meet, opened action by pinning Concordia's Ryan Sorell in the second round and decisioned Fort Scott's Derek Hall 4-2 in the semifinals.
Zahm's win earned the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association's second-ranked grappler a split with top-ranked Erisman during the 2004-2005 season. Erisman, who upped his state tournament career record to 10-3 in this year's championships, defeated the Trojan 6-3 at the Bobcat Classic in Basehor earlier this season to secure that championship.
For the first time in school history, De Soto made the Coliseum's wooden scoreboard, which updates the top nine teams following each round of action. The Wildcats finished the state meet with a ninth-best point total of 50.5.
"I'm real proud of all four wrestlers," Jones said. "I believe we placed higher than all of the teams in our league and regionals. All four wrestlers were there before and knew what to expect."
Erisman's three wins had a lot to do with that feat, but Jones had more than a one-man team. All four wrestlers who qualified for the state meet scored for the Wildcats.
Adam Faircloth, who wrestled in what Jones called a tough bracket, finished his final trip to the state meet by going 1-2 in the 140-pound bracket and scored four team points. His win was a first-round pin of Scott City's Dustin Warta in first-round action.
Faircloth then lost a 15-3 major decision to sixth-ranked Max Connelly of Santa Fe Trail. Concordia's Joey Kinder closed out Faircloth's career with a 17-4 major decision win over the Wildcat.
Leif Goleman and Alex Mercer each earned a medal and helped De Soto by combining for 23 points. Goleman tallied 15 points for the Wildcats and took fourth at 171 pounds. Mercer earned a sixth-place medal in the 215-pound bracket and score eight team points.
Goleman opened the meet with a 6-0 shutout of Colby's Ross Wright and then pinned fifth-ranked Jon Dukes of Douglass in the third period. Eventual champion Justin Wiscombe of Santa Fe Trail sent the senior to the consolation bracket with an 8-2 decision on Friday.
The former fourth-ranked wrestler then decisioned Council Grove's Mike Brakenhoff 10-2 in his first match Saturday. Nate Boyer pinned Goleman in the second period of the third-place match to end his season at 33-8.
Mercer opened first-day action with a pin over Santa Fe Trail's Jake Kober. Disney Atticus of Andover Central then sent Mercer to the consolation bracket.
Mercer squeaked out a 10-8 win over Circle's Derek Wallace and a 5-4 last-second triumph over Bishop Ward's Richard Williams to make his way into the consolation semifinals. Goodland's Mark Starr and Fort Scott's Derrik Jones both pinned Mercer to drop his state meet record to 3-3.
There were eight weight classes that treated wrestling fans to No. 1 vs. No. 2 match-ups in the finals. Second-ranked grapplers came out victorious in four of those contests.
Nine wrestlers entered state tournament action with perfect records. Only five of those athletes left the competition with state championship medals.
Augusta's Scott Elliot ran his season record to 38-0 with a championship win in the 135-pound finals. Danny Grater treated Clay Center fans with a championship at 145 pounds, while running his record to a spotless 37-0 mark.
Ross Taplin of Abilene and Santa Fe Trail's Justin Wiscombe both ended the year with 41-0 records. Taplin's championship came in the 160-pound weight class, while Wiscombe won at 171. Holton's Jesse Strawn finished 40-0 after winning the 189-pound title.
Besides Erisman, Augusta's Kyle Earhart (140), Clearwater's Curt Chenoweth (160) and Marysville's Tyler Thoreson (275) all fell for the first time this year at the state meet.