3-2-1A notebook: Salmans gets better of Gilliland for crown

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

Hoxie senior wrestler Brandon Salmans fully expected for Saturday's 195-pound Class 3-2-1A state final to be between himself and Plainville senior Harrison Gilliland.

They not only were the top ranked wrestlers at 195 pounds heading into state, but it only seemed like destiny the two would face each other again after wrestling four times earlier in the season at tournament finals.

Those four previous meetings counted for all of the two wrestlers' losses, so it only would be natural for them to meet again in the last one.

"I thought I would see him in the championship if I would make it, and I thought we both deserved to be there," Salmans said.

Salmans (35-3) ended his career on top of the friendly rivalry, defeating Gilliland by a 16-4 major decision at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

It was Salmans' first state championship and second state placing. He placed fifth at 182 pounds last season.

"I couldn't explain how it feels," Salmans said. "I've always wanted this ever since I was little, seeing the tradition at our high school. ... I've always wanted it. It's a dream come true."

Gilliland (25-2) credited Salmans for gaining the ultimate advantage in the five-match series, which was dominated early by Gilliland.

Gilliland won the first three matches, but as the season inched on, his victories were reduced to slimmer and slimmer margins before Salmans eventually defeated Gilliland by an 8-0 major decision at the regional championship match at Norton.

"Salmans is a great wrestler," Gilliland said. "I beat him the first three times, and it shows a lot of hard work and integrity to come back and beat somebody like that."

However, it wasn't a perfect conclusion to the rivalry. Gilliland aggravated a damaged nerve in his left arm in the quarterfinals. After the title match, he said he couldn't feel his hand.

"I lose sensation in my arm, and my hand goes numb," Gilliland said. "It's pretty bad right now, but no excuse. Salmans is a great wrestler."

Gilliland said he thought his nerve problems first started at a tournament final against Salmans on Jan. 5. Since then, he hadn't been able to train much beyond conditioning.

However, he was able to wrestle through it.

At times, it bothered him more than others, and at state, Gilliland managed to pin his first three opponents despite having nerve issues in the later matches. But he couldn't keep that streak alive against Salmans.

Salmans said through the course of the season, he learned how to wrestle Gilliland better.

Hoxie head coach Mike Porsch said through the first three matches, they learned how to best defeat Gilliland.

"We knew his style," Porsch said. "We just kind of had to slow down and wrestle a little smarter against him and chip away at him and not give him big points early."

In their first match, Salmans said he tried to be aggressive early on, and it resulted in Gilliland pinning him.

"I have to be a little more patient with these stronger kids," Salmans said. "I played smart my last two matches against him, and it's paid off."

Russell sends Frohling out on positive note

Russell senior Regis Weiss (40-6) delivered his wrestling coach Wyatt Frohling a retirement gift Saturday at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays.

Weiss gave Frohling an opportunity to end his career in the state finals -- a fitting end to a long career as a Bronco coach.

"I've known him for a long time," Weiss said. "He was the high school coach ever since I was little. I've grown up with him basically as my coach. ... We did it together."

Weiss didn't win the 152-pound state championship match, losing by a 7-3 decision to Halstead senior Alex Thibault (46-1), but it was an impressive run to get there.

Weiss won his first match by a first-period pin and then got a 5-3 sudden victory in the quarterfinals and 5-4 decision in the semifinals.

However, Weiss' state tournament run actually started at the regional the previous weekend when he defeated Ellis senior Gage Younger, the third-place finisher, by an 8-4 decision, allowing Weiss to be on the opposite side of the bracket of Thibault.

Weiss never had placed at state prior to this season. He qualified as a junior, but went 1-2.

"It was a real big deal for me, because i've been wrestling since I was 6," Weiss said. "I made it to the finals with everyone watching, and I sent our coach out on a last little run there."

The Russell wrestlers gave Frohling a singlet signed by former wrestlers in their final home dual, but Saturday's 152-pound state final might have been the icing on his retirement cake.