Already shorthanded, the Hays High wrestling team was dealt a huge blow after an unnerving injury to standout sophomore Gavin Meyers during Thursday night’s home-opening double dual.
The scary moment occurred in the first dual, when an accidental head-to-head collision with Pratt’s Hunter Huber caused Meyers to briefly lose consciousness as he fell to the mat.
After being tended to by Hays High's athletic trainer, Meyers was able to walk off on his own power after a couple minutes before leaving to receive medical attention for a jaw injury.
“We know something in his jaw is pretty messed up and some teeth and stuff were chipped pretty good,” Hays High coach Heath Meder said after the double dual Thursday. “They’re getting everything X-rayed and checked out to see what the full extent of it is. Scary there.”
The collision occurred after Huber’s head struck against Meyers’ chin while Huber was coming up from a takedown attempt that Meyers blocked.
It was the second time Meyers took impact to the jaw in the match, with a head collision occurring moments earlier that briefly paused the match.
“He’s a tough kid and he said, ‘I’m fine, let’s keep going,’ ” Meder said. “I think between the first impact that he took and then the fluke on the next one, it was enough to hurt something pretty good.”
Huber won by injury default in the 195-pound match with Meyers, who is the top-ranked 195-pounder in Class 5A. Pratt went on to win the dual against the Indians, 54-25. The Indians lost the final dual of the night to Plainville, 44-30.
“We were already kind of banged up. We’ve got injuries all over, so we put a lot of freshmen and sophomores in the lineup,” Meder said. “It showed tonight. It will be trial by fire for a lot of the kids. We kind of threw them in the lineup; we’ve got some of the older kids involved with other things, and injuries and stuff. Not our full team that we had last weekend.”
It was a bad case of deja vu for the Indians, who lost Meyers to injury at about the same point in the season last year. Meyers came back late in the season and placed fourth at 182 pounds in the Class 5A tournament.
“It was rough because it was the Pratt-Plainville dual last year that we lost him for two months,” Meder said. “He didn’t get back until right before regionals. We’re definitely hoping this one is a little bit better outcome and diagnosis to where he can come back quicker than that.
“He’s a kid you want on the team. He’s athletic, he’s strong and big and he knows wrestling. We’ll be excited when he can come back, for sure.”
Bright spots for the Indians included two pins from sophomore Gavin Nutting at 220 pounds. Meder also complimented the performance by Ethan Flock, who earned a pin against Pratt at 160 pounds.
“There’s definitely some nice spots and some things to be happy about, but still a tough night to take in,” Meder said.
Meder said he wants to see more intensity and aggressiveness from his wrestlers.
”Both Plainville and Pratt came out with that aggressiveness,” Meder said. “I think our guys know the technique and we have the endurance, we know wrestling, but you’ve got to have that aggression.”
The double dual also marked the home debut of Hays High girls wrestling, with Sarah Zimmerman, Alesha Rogers and Halle Lohmeyer all wrestling Thursday.
“This was one of the first times I’ve seen some of our girls wrestle in a competition,” Meder said. “Their aggressiveness and intensity, I’m really happy with that."
“It’s taking off,” Meder said of girls wrestling. “Everyday I get emails about new tournaments that teams are adding. Teams are getting more and more girls out. It’s exciting.”
The Indians will be back in action Saturday in the Russell Invitational.
Plainville's Jordan Finnesy, last year's Class 3-2-1A state champion at 170, earned a pair of pins on Thursday.