Kiowa crowns two champs at Invitational

Scott Stocker
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Jesse Evans and Aidan Osborn knew that the home-standing Indians were not going to win their schools Kiowa Invitational Wrestling Tournament team championship last Saturday. But that was not going to keep them from winning their individual weight classes.

As expected, Evans came through to win the championship at 160-pounds, Osborn at 170. And helping to make it a good day for Kiowa and coach Ryan Witzel, was a silver medal for Connor Wills at 145 and a bronze for Andrew Ban at 138. The Indians fifth wrestler, A.J. Smith, reached the consolation semifinals at 106, but was eliminated at that point. It was a second consecutive week of fine accomplishments as Kiowa had five place winners in last week’s tournament at Wiggins.

Holly crowned five tournament champions and had one runner-up to come through with the team title with 156 points. Discovery Canyon, with three champions and a pair of second and third place finishers, was second with 149 points. Holyoke, with five third-place finishers, was third with 117.5 points.

Kiowa finished fifth among the 18 teams with 100.5 points, but the home-standing crowd was more than pleased with the effort of its wrestlers.

Evans pulled out a second-period pin against Calhan’s Jourdan Ellis to improve his season record to 18-3. Yet he had pinned his way into the finals with pins against Discovery Canyon’s Schyler James and Peyton’s Mike Dillonaire.

“I think we certainly did well today,” said Evans, who carries the No. 6, Class 2A individual ranking by On The Mat wrestling. “We’ve been able to fight hard. We may have struggled at the beginning of the season, but were getting things put together. I think we can get five to state and if so, I think we can do well. Small teams with low numbers have been known to place high at state. We’re not about to give up and I don’t think anyone has..”

Osborn followed Evans to the top of the winner’s platform, defeating Sand Creek’s Edgar Urquijo, 9-5 for his title. He began is tournament with a technical fall victory against Clear Creek’s Cody Evans, then pinned Holyoke’s Spencer Kotch in his semifinal. He is also ranked No. 3 by On The Mat.

“I’m happy with the day and we had a good turnout among the fans,” said Osborn, now 18-1. “I just hope to keep on winning, stay sharp and work to accomplishing my goals. I think I’ll be ready for region and I think the others will, too. All of us are determined to do well and we’ve all got each others backs.”

And those are good thoughts to accompany Witzel.

“We’ve only got three meets left,” Witzel said. “I think we can qualify at least four from the regional, perhaps five can make it and that would be great. We started the season with 10 kids and we’re down to the six. Last week at Wiggins, we had five of the kids medal. At this point in the season, they are wrestling well.

“Aidan and Jesse have been coming through for us,” Witzel said. “They have high desires to medal at state.

Connor is a junior with high goals on going to state, too. He has a good record (17-8), was a runner-up today. He is hungry and dedicated.

“Andrew is a key as a sophomore,” Witzel said. “He is finding his style and would like to see even more mat time. A.J. a freshman, started in our first tournament this season and didn’t win a match. He’s 9-14 and has shown a lot of improvement. We’re also going to get Tyler Daughenbaugh (152) back in the lineup. He is still recovering from his injury, a dislocated elbow, and we want to make sure he is healthy for the regional.”

Wills and Ban were also pleased with their performances for Kiowa.

“I wrestled a lot of talented guys today and winning second has given me a lot of confidence,” Wills said. “I want to get to state so I just have to keep winning. This has been my best high school season so far. Our team is small in numbers, but it’s the best the school has had in a long time. After Wiggins and this week, we have an even more positive outlook. My opponents today were all new and it was nice to have the variety.”

Added Ban, “It was a tough tournament with a lot of good competition. We have come so far and we’re getting much better each time out. The practice room has certainly helped us to win this season. No, we don’t have large numbers, but we’ve made a lot of progress and I think it’s all going to pay off.”

It was not a good day for Simla as the Cubs of coach Darren Teller only had two of the teams three wrestlers in the tournament. Neither Alberto DeOliveria (138) nor Aaron VanZoren (160) reached the finals. And being without Damian Bell on the mats, that didn’t help, either.

“We started the year with seven, but we down to three and for the past two years, that seems to be our number,” Teller said. “The boys are determined to do well and I couldn’t be happier with their efforts. Aaron just seems to get better each time out and I think has a good chance to place in the region and make state.

“Alberto is our exchange student from Brazil and this is his first year of wrestling,” Teller said. “He’s putting things together and really likes the sport. Damian is overcoming an injury and we just want to make sure he is ready four the final weeks coming up.”

Indeed, it’s been an interesting year for DeOliveria, who hails from Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

“I enjoy wrestling because you can be yourself,” said DeOliveria, who pinned two of his tournament foes, but also suffered two pins. “I want to win, but the important part is just to learn and do my best. This is something certainly new for me. I just what to be able to prove to myself that I can do this.”

Added VanZoren, “I think it has been a pretty good season and it can only get better. Coach has really been behind us and my teammates have helped a lot. Today was a good tournament, but we didn’t get as far as we had hoped.”

Bell also feels it has been a good season, despite the lack of team numbers.

“This season has gone well and I think we three have a good chance to go to state,” Bell said. “It’s gut check time in the room. I have a lot of one-on-one with coach. There was a lot of good competition at this tournament and schools we should see again.”

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