With Fort Hays State wrestling trailing Lindenwood 20-6 in Friday night’s home dual, Marty Verhaeghe suddenly gave the Tigers hope for a rally.
After nearly being pinned in the first round against Kyle Summers at 174 pounds, No. 9-ranked Verhaeghe pulled off a dramatic come-from-behind win, pinning Summers in the second period.
FHSU’s Micquille Robinson kept the momentum going in the next match at 184 pounds with an 8-0 major decision win over Miles Nuessle, but the Tigers dropped the final two matches as No. 6-ranked Lindenwood claimed a 29-16 win over the No. 12-ranked Tigers at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
Verhaeghe’s match was one of the highlights for the Tigers, with the sophomore from Blue Valley Southwest fighting back from the vulnerable spot to notch one of two pins on the night for FHSU.
“That was scary,” FHSU coach Chas Thompson said. “Off his own shot (Verhaeghe) got pancaked to his back and darn near got pinned. He roared back, reversed that guy, the guy got away and then he took him down again. Marty, in college, he hasn’t been a good rider or top guy, but he was in high school. That was awesome. … He’s a crowd favorite and a town favorite. He’s got a very good gas tank, a lot of intensity. He showed what heart is right there, because he got put to his back and was down 6-0, came back and pinned his guy.”
Robinson’s major decision cut the Lions’ lead to 20-16 but Lindenwood wrapped up the dual when Jared McKindley pinned FHSU’s Jordan Davis at 197 pounds. No. 12-ranked Courvoisser Morrow then closed the dual with a 7-3 decision win over FHSU’s A.J. Cooper.
“We had that little momentum swing right there at 74 and 84, and 97 is an evenly matched matchup right there, but they just caught us,” Thompson said. “Obviously that killed us because it would have came down to heavyweights and A.J. could have wrestled a little bit of a different style there.
“You live and learn. In any spot, you’ve got to have a short memory. We have some guys that did improve in a few areas.”
In the first match of the night, 125-pounder Broderick Green took a 19-3 technical fall to No. 3-ranked Carlos Jacquez before Conrad Cole was pinned by Tanner Hitchcock at 133.
FHSU's No. 2-ranked Brandon Ball then remained unbeaten on the year by pinning Tyler Wicken in the first period at 141 pounds.
“That guy came after him; three shots to none right off the bat,” Thompson said of Ball’s match. “Brandon’s No. 2 in the country so he’s got a target on his back and people are gunning for him. Brandon usually majors or techs guys or beats them like 5-0, 6-0, and he got a pin. I told him I was pumped because that position we got in, he caught him bottom of the cradle, he always gets guys there but he’s so afraid to go for the kill because he thinks something might happen to where it might jeopardize his match. For the team, he got that cradle.”
The Tigers then lost the next three matches with Jonathan Ball (149), Anthony Scantlin (157) and No. 4-ranked Efe Osaghae (165) all dropping decisions. Osagahe, who was wrestling up a weight class, lost 5-3 to No. 7-ranked Kyle Jolas.
FHSU dropped to 1-4 in duals and 0-2 in MIAA action.
“I think we just shot ourselves in the foot in a couple weight classes, gave up two pins from cradles; that just kills us, ” Thompson said. “I told the guys we can’t keep continuing to do that and expect to win duals.
“Coming back from the national duals we were a little injured, but give credit to Lindenwood; that’s not why we lost tonight. We lost tonight because we lost to a team that outwrestled us.”
The Tigers will have a quick turnaround, hosting the Kansas Cup at 10 a.m. on Sunday in Gross Memorial Coliseum.
“We’ll get a day of rest and some of the guys will obviously have to watch their weight,” Thompson said. “It will be all Kansas guys here. It will be a fun tournament. It’s always nice to figure out who the best program in the state is.”