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Hays High wins lopsided dual with Russell

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Hays High School coach John Hafliger enjoys wrestling Russell High School because of the proximity to Hays. HHS often has to travel several hours for meets, and Russell is a roughly half-hour drive. The two teams have matched up many times during the years.

However, Russell has seen its numbers continually drop because of fewer athletes competing in the sport and injuries. On Thursday, Hays High hosted Russell and won 63-15 in a dual at the HHS gym. But Russell was open or injured at eight of 14 weight classes. Without the forfeits, the dual finished at 15-15. The dual was finished in less than an hour.

"I told our kids in the locker room, I am not sure what to say," Hafliger said. "I thought we wrestled well in the matches that we wrestled in. It's just hard to know much based on what we saw here tonight. It's difficult. It's frustrating for our coaches. It's frustrating for our kids. Wanted more matches than what we got, but I was proud of the guys that were in."

Russell competed at the Osborne tournament last weekend. Senior 160-pounder Dylan Walker and senior 220-pounder Andy Ochampaugh were among those who missed the dual. Walker hurt his chest and coach Wyatt Frohling said Ochampaugh "is just not feeling up to par yet."

"If they have their full lineup, it's a dogfight from top to bottom," Hafliger said. "They have got some quality kids on their team."

Russell competes Saturday in a big meet at Minneapolis, so Frohling looks to have a healthier squad by then. Frohling, in his 12th year at Russell and 32nd overall, has one of the smallest squads in his tenure. The team opened the year with just 22 wrestlers.

"I don't know if I would call it embarrassing bringing this many guys yet, but we did all right with what we wrestled," Frohling said. "We would like to bring out more and give them more of a battle. So hope they invite us back."

The highlight of Thursday's dual came at 152 between Russell senior Regis Weiss and Hays High senior Leroy Franco. Helped by a big second period, Weiss won 8-3.

"That was a big match," Frohling said. "That was a good match. I could tell Franco was ready to go. It helps Regis, both of them. That was the match of the night right there. That was a big match."

At 113, Hays High freshman Ross Hattan won by fall. Russell sophomore Blake Boxberger picked up a victory at 120 by fall, and Russell freshman Chase Prester collected a win by fall at 126 pounds. At 182 pounds, HHS sophomore Ethan Deterding won 9-2. At 285 pounds, junior Vincent Scott won by fall in 20 seconds against Russell senior Chris Gulick, who weighed in at 283 pounds.

"Vincent picks him up and lays him down," Hafliger said. "That's pretty impressive. ... Vincent is very strong and very athletic."

Scott was listed at 220 pounds on the roster, but is probably to end up wrestling at 285. Hafliger estimated Scott weighs about 230 to 235 pounds. HHS is open at 220 and doesn't have another solid wrestler at 285.

"If we had another heavyweight, he probably would cut down to 220," Hafliger said. "He didn't wrestle last year. He came out again this year. He has done great for us."

Hays High will travel to the Colby duals this weekend, one of Kansas' top earlier season meets.