Young Cat wrestlers fare well at home
The night was Neil Erisman's. There was no doubt about that.
The unquestioned leader and star of De Soto's wrestling team was honored on Senior Night and picked up the 135th win of his high school career to celebrate.
But a stable of young Wildcat grapplers nearly stole the senior's show. Hunter England won both of his matches in the 103-pound class and four other Cats picked up wins as De Soto capped off its regular season Thursday at home against Eudora and Anderson County.
"Neil was the only senior, so it was good for him," Jones said. "You hate to see a kid like that go, but he's got bigger and broader things on his horizon and I'm happy for him."
De Soto didn't fare well as a team in either of its head-to-head match ups, but the squad enjoyed some of the best individual performances of the season.
Erisman, winning by forfeit against Anderson County, dominated in his only match of the night. After amassing a sizable points lead in the first period, he pinned Eudora's Loni Ogden 28 seconds into the second.
England's two wins may have been equally significant, however. The Wildcat freshman pinned Anderson County's David Heidrich in just 25 seconds. He then went on to earn his second pin of the night, defeating Jackson Wiley of Eudora early in the third period.
"He wrestled very well tonight," Jones said.
The success may have come in part from a new attitude England has begun to adopt. Jones said the coaches have been pushing the freshman to hit the mat more aggressively, and Thursday it may have paid off.
"The first one was really easy," England said. "It was pretty fun. It felt pretty good. This was my best night."
Andrew Butler, wrestling at 140 pounds, also picked up a win, pulling out a 5-3 decision over Kyle Scrimsher of Eudora.
Mark England picked up a 12-4 win and Shane Heffner won as well.
All were a welcome change after a mostly-rough season in which the young wrestlers spent most of their time trying to learn the sport while wrestling on the varsity team.
"The nice thing is that they're winning matches that aren't just a quick pin," Jones said. "They're winning close matches, going out there scoring points and trying things."
De Soto travels to Baldwin Saturday for the Frontier League meet. The meet will signal the final chance to tune up before regionals Feb. 17 and 18 the meet where competitors will qualify for the state tournament.
"The goals will be pretty much the same," Jones said. "We want to go out and work on the things we've worked on all year. It will be hard because a lot of them have losing records, so they'll have to wrestle the best kids first, but I think we can definitely win some matches."