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No. 17 Tiger wrestling drops regular season Finale to second-ranked Lopers

FHSU Sports Information

KEARNEY, Neb. – The 17th-ranked Fort Hays State wrestling team could not overcome the second-ranked Lopers of Nebraska-Kearney on Thursday (Feb. 11), falling 35-12 in the regular season finale. The ranked duo of No. 2 Mason Turner and No. 8 A.J. Cooper bookmarked the dual with pins at 125 and 285 pounds, but the Lopers came away with wins in the eight remaining bouts. The Tigers finish their regular season at 3-7, 2-1 in conference action while the Lopers end their year at 10-3, 3-0 in the MIAA.  

This dual started with two of the best in the nation at 125 pounds. After a couple tough periods, No. 1 Josh Portillo and No. 2 Turner were even in scoring headed to the final frame after trading reversals in the second period. After electing for the neutral position to start the third period, Turner gained the advantage with a takedown before turning Portillo on his back, securing the fall 49 seconds in the third period.

The Lopers tied the score with a first period pin at 133 pounds before earning six points via forfeit at 141 pounds. Cole Zebley battled but fell 8-0 at 149 pounds before Anthony Scantlin dropped a hard-fought 7-2 decision at 157 pounds. UNK padded its lead to 24-6 after a tech fall at 165 pounds.

Looking to help the TIgers regain some momentum, Marty Verhaeghe battled No. 7 Terrell Garraway to the end. Entering the third period with a 7-1 deficit, Verhaeghe scored an escape and takedown to bring him within three points. As time was ticking away, Verhaeghe caught Garraway's leg and drove Garraway to his back. Verhaeghe nearly earned the fall, but Garraway was able to escape with a 10-6 decision.

Nebraska-Kearney picked up more bonus points at 184 with a 15-0 tech fall.

Another close bout came at 197 pounds with Tereus Henry extending things against No. 8 Joseph Reimers into overtime. Henry nearly had a reversal that would have won it, but the points were waved off as it was determined the reversal occurred after the horn sounded. After wiping out Henry's chance at a ride time point and grabbing all the momentum, Reimers earned the takedown in the extra period to capture the sudden victory.

No. 8 A.J. Cooper ended the dual on a high note, earning a fall in double overtime. Cooper and Lee Herrington were both tied at the end of seven minutes. A stalemate in the first overtime sent the 285-pound bout to a second overtime. After opening the 30 second frame in the top position, Cooper overpowered Herrington and caught him on his back, earning the pin with less than 10 seconds remaining in the period.

Tony Caldwell capped off the evening with a 12-4 major decision in an extra bout.

The Tigers will now turn their attention towards the 2021 NCAA Division II Super Region 4 Championships, scheduled for February 28 in Edmond, Okla.

#2 Nebraska-Kearney 35, #17 Fort Hays State 12

125 | #2 Mason Turner (FHSU) over #1 Josh Portillo (UNK) (Fall 5:49)

133 | #3 Wesley Dawkins (UNK) over Broderick Green (FHSU) (Fall 2:17)

141 | #11 Nick James (UNK) over Unknown (For.)

149 | #5 Sam Turner (UNK) over Cole Zebley (FHSU) (MD 8-0)

157 | #7 Jacob Wasser (UNK) over Anthony Scantlin (FHSU) (Dec 7-2)

165 | #2 Matt Malcom (UNK) over Cody Hicks (FHSU) (TF 18-3 5:50)

174 | #7 Terrell Garraway (UNK) over Marty Verhaeghe (FHSU) (Dec 10-6)

184 | #11 Austin Eldredge (UNK) over Clint Herrick (FHSU) (TF 15-0 3:17)

197 | #8 Joseph Reimers (UNK) over Tereus Henry (FHSU) (SV-1 5-3)

285 | #8 A.J. Cooper (FHSU) over Lee Herrington (UNK) (Fall 8:29)

157 | Extra: Teontae Wilson (UNK) over Josh Lenker (FHSU) (Fall 0:34)

285 | Extra: Tony Caldwell (FHSU) over Connor Fee (UNK) (MD 12-4)