Coach Pete Logan
The Gardner-Edgerton High School boys varsity wrestling team bounced back from a tough loss against Kansas 5A power Shawnee Heights to claim a convincing 78-6 win against Shawnee Mission West in the Blazers’ first home dual Saturday in the Gardner-Edgerton High School Gymnasium.
In the morning’s first team matchup, the Blazers took on the Kansas 5A 7th-ranked Thunderbirds from Shawnee Heights. The visitors jumped out to an early 18-0 lead before the Blazers closed to within 6, but then the Thunderbirds dominated the middle weights before GEHS closed out the bout by taking two of the last three matches. After all the matches were over, Shawnee Heights had claimed a 49-24 win.
“They’re tough,’’ said Gardner-Edgerton head coach Tyler Cordts of the Thunderbirds. “They’re a very solid team top to bottom. That’s not something you see very often — where a team has no weaknesses. We had kind of a mixed-around lineup today, which does not bode well for facing a team like that. We were a little flat. We wrestled well; we were technically sound, but we just didn’t have that nastiness and that aggression that we needed to gut out some of those tighter matches.”
Shawnee Heights jumped out to its early 18-point lead by claiming pins at 106, 113, and 120 pounds. Trailblazer sophomore 126-pounder Alonzo Borjas stopped the bleeding for the home squad by pinning Heights’ Decker Stickelman 34 seconds into the 3rd round, cutting the deficit to 12 at 18-6. GEHS junior 132-pounder Collin Smith then cut the Thunderbirds’ lead to 6 by downing SHHS 132-pounder Cole Parrish just 44 seconds into the 1st round, making the score 18-12. However, Heights swept weights 138 through 182 to build an imposing 46-12 advantage.
Relief for the Trailblazers came in the form of their No. 1-ranked 195-pounder, senior Gus Davis. Davis and his opponent, Sean Wunder, grappled into the 2nd round before Davis put Wunder’s shoulders to the floor with 16 seconds remaining in the 2nd round. The Thunderbirds claimed a win on points at 220 pounds, before GEHS senior Jay Jensen closed out the matches by pinning Heights’ Orrin Busenitz at 0:41 of the 2nd round.
After Heights downed Shawnee Mission West in the 2nd team matchup of the morning, the Trailblazers faced the Vikings in the day’s closing bout.
Gardner-Edgerton started their faceoff against West with an 18-0 edge as the Vikings left the 106, 113, and 120-pound classes open. The Trailblazers then ran off a string of six consecutive pins. Borjas began the run with his 2nd pin of the day when he downed the Vikings’ Jacob Mendoza with 31 seconds remaining in the 1st round. Smith then followed suit with his 2nd consecutive 1st round pin when he put the Vikings’ Corbin Daniels shoulders to the floor at 0:47 of the opening frame. GEHS sophomore 138-pounder Therron Meade then downed SMW’s Thomas Gunion in the 2nd round at 1:11, followed by Blazer sophomore 145-pounder Zaine Mayfield pinning West’s Noah Gunnion just 46 seconds into their match. Trailblazer junior 152-pounder earned his pin of the Vikings’ Nathan Cowley at 0:17 of the 2nd round, which was followed by Gardner-Edgerton sophomore 160-pounder Ian Gruis winning against SMW’s Landon Wadman by pinning him at 0:25 of the 1st round. The Blazers then racked up another 6 points when West had to leave the 170-pound slot open. At the end of their 10 triumph string, the Blazers held a 60-0 lead.
SMW’s 182-pounder Gunner Noard gave the Vikings their lone win of the evening with a pin just before the end of the 1st round, to make the score 60-6. However, GEHS ended the day with three straight wins, starting with Davis’s 2nd pin of the day — an 0:52 flooring of West’s Jaeden Williams just over a minute into the 1st round. Gardner-Edgerton senior Caden Rodriguez, wrestling up at 220 pounds from his normal 182-pound weight class, then pinned the Vikings’ John Lopez just 40 seconds into the 1st round. Finally, Jensen finished off the matches with his 2nd straight pin, flooring SMW’s Logan Hill at 0:57 of the 2nd round.
“It was a good win.” Cordts said after the match. “The kids wrestled tough. It was good to see a kid like Ian (Gruis) who just stepped in to help us out this week due to some Covid stuff. Steps in, first varsity matches ever, and gets a huge win.”
The Blazers had 5 wrestlers out of the lineup for illness or injury on Saturday, necessitating a shift of three wrestlers out of their normal weight classes. The team is slated to have all 5 of their missing members back this Monday, to be at full strength for the first time since the start of practice in November.