Pete Logan
Special to The Gardner News
An upset win at 113 pounds and four straight second-round pins late in the contest gave the Gardner-Edgerton High School wrestling team a victory Jan. 16 as they outlasted the Ravens of Olathe Northwest, 42-36, at GEHS Fieldhouse.
The Trailblazers battled back from an early 18-6 deficit to claim the win. The Blazers’ first six points came in dramatic upset fashion when GEHS 113-pounder Collin Smith avenged an early season loss and pinned the Ravens’ Brady Pellman who was ranked 6th in Kansas 6A. However, four wrestlers into the evening, the Blazers found themselves down by 12.
The comeback started when it looked like the Blazers were going to fall behind by even more points. GEHS senior Brayden Ratcliffe, ranked sixth in Kansas 6A wrestling at 132 pounds, was behind in points going into the third round against Northwest’s Vlad Honc. Ratcliffe, however, turned the tables in the final round, and — with 1:11 left in the period — pinned Honc to make the score 18-12.
After losing on points at 138 pounds, the Blazers found themselves down, 21-12. However, senior Kye Humphrey — wrestling varsity for the first time at 145 pounds — pinned the Ravens’ Zac Stegeman at just over a minute into the 1st round to bring the Trailblazers back to within three.
A Trailblazer loss on points at 152 pounds put the Ravens up by six at 24-18, but then the pendulum swung dramatically in the Blazers’ favor. Starting with GEHS sophomore Eric Orrison at 160, the Trailblazers ran off four straight wins — all by pins in the second round. First, Orrison defeated Northwest’s Alex McKernan. Then, Brendan Oshel downed the Ravens Jake Herl at 170 pounds. At 182 pounds, the Blazers’ Caden Rodriguez (ranked 6th in Kansas 6A) overpowered the Ravens’ Alex Baiza, followed by GEHS’ 195-pound grappler, Noah Short, pinning ONW’s Seth Evans. At the end of the Blazer run, GEHS had claimed a commanding lead at 42-24.
Northwest wins at 220 and 285 pounds cut the final deficit to six, but the Blazers’ four-pin run proved to be too much for the visitors.
After the meet, GEHS head coach Tyler Cordts talked about the contest.
“All week we talked about how tough they (ONW) were down low and how we’d have to weather the storm,” said Cordts. “The turning point really came before that (the four-pin run). Collin Smith pinned a kid who’d pinned him earlier this year — a highly ranked kid. When we got that, that was the turning point we needed. Then Ratcliffe came out and did what Ratcliffe’s done all year. Guys stepped up big time. Noah Short got the pin to seal it. It was awesome to see him do that.”
The 2018-19 Trailblazer squad is a mix younger wrestlers and upperclassmen who seem to be hitting their stride at just the right time for GEHS. After the meet, Cordts spoke about how the team is coming together.
“They’re really coming along,” Cordts said. “We have a lot of upperclassmen on the team, and they’re kind of showing the young guys how to scrap, how to do things and showing them the expectations around here. Those young guys are living up to the expectations, and every day they’re coming in, and they’re grinding it out and little by little putting things together.”