For the final time inside Gross Memorial Coliseum, seven seniors on the Fort Hays State University wrestling team donned a Tiger jersey in a 44-9 dual victory against Central Missouri on Wednesday.
Joey Dozier, Tyler Dryden, Noah Killip, Bradley Little, Adam Ludwin, Nathan Shipley, and Matt Ziegler makeup the largest senior class in Chas Thompson’s six-year regime. Four of them celebrated in grand fashion with victories over an MIAA opponent, pushing the Tigers’ dual record to 6-5 with an MIAA record of 1-3.
“The first thing I told them before we went out there is, ‘It’s senior night, let’s go out there and do good at home, go seven minutes whistle-to-whistle.’ Obviously I’m pretty happy with the way we wrestled tonight.”
The most impressive win of the night came in fashion of a 49-second pin by Dozier, a Garden City native who felt the emotions of wrestling at home for the final time.
“Knowing it was my senior night, I kinda have a little more intensity coming in here tonight than other times,” Dozier said. “I’m glad I got the win and glad the team did so well. We really turned it on tonight.”
While Ludwin and Little were victorious thanks to open slots by UCM, Killip joined Dozier with a pin in 1:50 at 141 pounds.
“They’re the catalysts, they’ve been the catalysts for a while,” Thompson said of his senior class.
“When they came in as freshman I said, ‘If you guys stick together, this is gonna be a special class.’ We have lost of a few, but most of them stuck through; seven is a lot, you don’t see that very often. It’s a good group of guys, good leaders, good academics.”
Anthony Calderon picked up a third-period pin one match prior at 133 points.
At 165 pounds, Kregg Clarke trailed 3-2 heading into the third period. Clarke then earned a key two-point reversal with 30 seconds left in the match and remained in control to earn the 4-3 decision.
UCM’s Archie Williams, a returning All-American and the No. 7 wrestler in the country, pinned FHSU’s Nathan Shipley in 1:55 at 174 pounds.
FHSU countered with its ranked wrestler as No. 6 Jon Inman increased the Tiger’s commanding lead with a fall of his own in 1:55 at 184 pounds.
Cash Drylie led the Tigers to their final victory of the night with a technical fall (18-1) before Dakota Gulley came up just short in the heavyweight match.
With few complaints to take away for Wednesday, Dozier feels the Tigers’ most recent victory as the igniter to a strong ending to the season, beginning with a dual next week at Newman.
“I think it got the ball rolling in the right direction for the Newman dual and the MIAA’s and Regionals,” Dozier said. “I felt this was a really strong dual for us, we did really well and just need to keep it going.”
With the grind of cutting weight for three matches in six days concluded, Thompson is giving his group a day off Thursday to recuperate after a taxing week. But when they return to the mats Friday, all eyes are set on one final tuneup before the conference tournament Feb. 14 in St. Charles, Mo.
“We haven’t had one of those (a day off) in a while. We’ve been going for a while, so those guys are looking forward to it,” Thompson said. “Then it’s back to the grind with Newman in our crosshairs next.”