It’s been a hard-luck season for Fort Hays State wrestling in duals, but you wouldn’t know that from the way the Tigers dominated Central Missouri on Wednesday night.
Fort Hays got several big performances up and down the lineup during its final home dual of the season, picking up a 35-5 win over the Mules on senior night at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
The Tigers dropped decisions in the first two matches before shutting out UCM the rest of the way, claiming the last eight matches to improve to 2-8 on the season in duals.
“It was senior night and we wanted to send the guys off right,” FHSU coach Chas Thompson said. “Obviously we’ve been having not the best luck in duals this year. We’re currently missing four of our starters still.
"It feels good to get a win at home. Happy with the way the boys wrestled. Last home dual of the year, it’s always good to look like that in front of the crowd.”
Of Fort Hays State’s three seniors, only 184-pounder Micquille Robinson wrestled Wednesday, with Ryne Cokeley taking a win by forfeit win and Nick Meck out with a injury.
Robinson celebrated senior night with a 12-0 major decision over Dominque Hampton.
“I told [Robinson], ‘Just go have fun. That’s the best advice I can give you. It’s your senior year,’ ” Thompson said. “Wrestling is one of those sports where you get tons of nerves before you go out there. You can have an adrenaline dump sometimes when you get tired out there. I said, ‘Just make it fun.’ I think Micquille did that tonight.
“He looked great. He sent himself off, as far as wrestling at home, in the manner that you’d like to with a major decision.”
Robinson’s performance was just one of several highlights on the night for the Tigers.
Hays High product Conrad Vajnar had one of the other memorable moments, with the redshirt freshman delivering a pin in the first period over Cole Hatfeld at 165 pounds.
“He had his family up there. I saw his siblings up there cheering and it made me feel good inside,” Thompson said. “Conrad’s a great student and he did his job.”
Unbeaten and No. 2-ranked Brandon Ball started the Tigers’ win streak with a one-sided 16-0 victory by technical fall over Dakota Thevel at 141 pounds. No. 4-ranked Efe Osaghae followed suit with a 15-0 win over Austin Morgan before Vajnar earned the pin. Cokeley then earned the forfeit win at 149 pounds.
FHSU's Marty Verhaeghe returned from injury to post an 8-1 win over Benjamin Gadbois at 157 pounds, and Robinson’s major decision extended the Tigers' lead to 29-5 after UCM was deducted a point for coach misconduct.
Redshirt freshman Ryan Tiers made the most of his season debut for the Tigers with a 9-3 decision at 197 pounds over Martin Brunnert. A.J. Cooper then capped the night with a 9-3 decision over Chase Miller at heavyweight.
The Tigers have two more duals on the road before regionals. They face Nebraska-Kearney on Feb. 10 before taking on Newman on Feb. 13.
“We’ve got a little break and hopefully we can get some people healed up,” Thompson said. “Definitely a good confidence builder for the guys going into these next two duals because they’re both tough duals.”