Prior to the start of the Hays High School wrestling team’s regular season finale dual against Great Bend on Thursday at the HHS gym, the Indians honored their four seniors in the program.

But it was a freshman who stole the show near the end of the evening. It put what coach John Hafliger called the “icing on the cake” as the Indians rallied to cap the season with a 41-27 victory against the visiting Panthers as HHS rallied from a 27-12 deficit to capture the win. 

“Really pleased with how our guys battled back in that,” said Hafliger, whose team now gets set for its Class 4A regional in Abilene next week.

Freshman 195-pounder Colter Conger all but put the finishing touches on the win. With heavy favorites in senior Trey VanPelt (220) and junior Logan Schulte (285) waiting on deck, Conger put an exclamation point on the come from behind.

Down 27-12, the Indians won the final six matches — a decision, three pins and two major decisions — but it was Conger’s pin that put the Indians on top for the first time since they held a 12-9 advantage.

“That was huge,” Hafliger said of Conger’s 1 minute, 39 second pin against Great Bend sophomore Ever Chavez. “Colter has been battling and he’s light for 95.

“For him to come out and understand where we were in the dual and understand that’s a big match — that’s huge. Hats off to him.”

Then VanPelt and Schulte followed suit, pinning their opponents to complete the come-from-behind victory. Junior Kreighton Meyers at 160, junior Cole Schroeder at 170 and junior Chase Voth at 182 all captured victories in the rally.

“Great Bend is very, very tough in right through the middle weights,” Haflger said. “We battled, but gave up some big points there too.

“Our guys in the upper weights, we came out and just wrestled lights out,” he added. “That’s what we needed to do.”

The Indians started the day with a pin at 106 pounds from sophomore Jordan Zimmerman and a decision at 113 from sophomore Grant Karlin. From there, Great Bend took five of the next six matches — four by pin — as they took the 27-12 win.

Meyers, though, got the momentum back for Hays High with his 9-6 thrlling decision against Great Bend junior Jeffrey Spragis.

“That got us rolling in the right direction,” Hafliger said. “Then (Schroeder) comes out and gets a fantastic win, and it just kind of snowballed for us.”