The No. 22 Fort Hays State wrestling team fell behind early and was unable to bounce back against No. 6 Central Oklahoma Friday (Jan. 31), losing 28-15. The Tigers now sit at 4-5 on the year and 1-1 in MIAA action, while the Bronchos improve to 10-1 overall and 2-0 in the league.
Central Oklahoma took a quick 10-0 lead through two matches before the Tigers were able to get on the board at 141. No. 2 Brandon Ball maintained his undefeated record with a 7-2 decision over Nate Keim, picking up two reversals and a two-point nearfall.
The Bronchos captured nine points over the next two matches to lead 19-3 at the midway point before Conrad Vajnar helped the Tigers bounce back at 165 pounds. The sophomore picked up a late two-point nearfall to knock off Anthony DesVigne with an 8-6 decision. Marty Verhaeghe kept things rolling with a 9-5 win over Gage McBride at 174 pounds, helping the Tigers close within 19-9 on the scoreboard.
Aryus Jones battled for seven tough minutes against Heath Gray, the top-ranked wrestler at 184 pounds, before suffering a 7-5 defeat. Jones took an early lead with a first-period takedown and picked up a late reversal to close within one, but Gray fought off any nearfall points and picked up a ride time point to secure the decision.
A.J. Cooper wrapped up the evening with his 13th pin of the season at 285 pounds, sticking Garrett Beier to the mat with 13 seconds left on the clock. Cooper was in full control at the time, leading 11-2 after nearly recording a pin in the second period.
The Tigers will take a break from conference action next Friday (Feb. 7) when they travel to Springfield, Mo. to take on the Drury Panthers.