The Fort Hays State University wrestling team hosted the annual Bob Smith Open at Gross Memorial Coliseum on Sunday. There were a total of 211 wrestlers from 18 teams including the likes of Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Central Oklahoma and Newman. Brandon Ball and Rakim Dean captured runner-up finishes for the Tigers.
The Tigers had 20 wrestlers compete in the home event with three seniors, five juniors, three sophomores, three redshirt-freshman and six true freshman.
Ranked second in the nation in Division II, Brandon Ball received a bye in the first round. Ball defeated Dylan Udero of Adams State with an 8-0 major decision to advance to the quarterfinals of the 141-pound weight class. He moved on to the semifinals with a 10-5 decision over Christian Miller (unattached). For the third time this season, Ball entered the title bout of his weight class. He did so with a 6-5 decision over Michael Magaldo of perennial power Oklahoma State. Ball faced Dean Heil of Oklahoma State in the 141 title match. Heil, arguably one of the best athletes in the country, is the top ranked wrestler in Division I.
Ball was taken down early in the first set allowing Heil to earn 1:39 of riding time. Heil started the second period in the bottom position and escaped Ball’s grasp. Heil then used a takedown to pick up another two points, giving him a 5-0 lead. Ball escaped his hold and was on the board, trailing 5-1 after two periods. Ball was in the bottom position to start the third period and used a nifty reversal to grab two points to cut into Heil’s lead, making the score 5-3. Ball was gaining ride time by decreasing Heil’s earned ride time from the first two periods. Heil was then called for a stall warning, but nothing else happened as time expired. Ball dropped his first match of the year to Dean Heil, a two-time national champion for OSU.
Rakim Dean was the other Tiger to take home a runner-up finish as he started with a bye in the first round of the 197-pound weight class. Dean defeated Jacob Stoneberger of Newman with a 10-3 decision to advance to the quarterfinals. He moved on to the semifinal match with a 3-2 decision over Colton Wolfe (unattached).
Dean earned a spot in the title bout after an injury cut Max Wright’s (Air Force Prep) day short. Dean competed against Andrew Marsden of Oklahoma State for first place but was pinned in 4:41 and settled for second place.
Oklahoma State captured eight of the 10 weight class titles as Newman (Noel Torres, 184 pounds) and Nebraska (Mikey Labriola, unattached in the 174-pound weight class) grabbed the other two for the tournament.
The Tigers head to the Reece-Wright-Conklin Jet Invite on Sunday in Wichita. The tournament is slated to begin at 9 a.m.