Tuesday, January 25, 2011
The timing couldn’t have been more right for the state-ranked Fulton Hornets wrestling team to win its own tournament for the first time.
With the tournament’s namesake and longtime former Fulton coach in attendance, the Hornets earned seven individual championships and locked down the team title in the Jim Wallace Classic on Saturday night at Roger D. Davis Gymnasium.
Fulton accumulated 204 points to finish first in the 12-team field. Moberly came in second with 191 points and Winfield was a distant third with 96.
“It was nice with (Wallace) there this year; he got to see our kids and he was pretty impressed,” said Fulton head coach Eric Hudson, who wrestled for Wallace and was a sophomore when he retired in 1993. “We’ve been close (to winning the tournament) a couple of times.
“Last year we were missing several wrestlers, so it was nice to have our full complement this time. For the most part, we wrestled as well as we have this year as a team. It was a nice weekend.”
Capturing individual titles for the Hornets on Saturday were sophomore Drew Benner at 145 pounds, seniors Ryan Fritz, Josh Curtis and Sean Luetkemeyer at 171, 140 and 189, respectively, sophomore Cody Pae at 125, junior Zack McClure at 130 and freshman Jared Kaiser at 103.
Sophomore Kelcey Nunley and freshman John Kingsley turned in second-place finishes at 130 and 152 pounds, respectively, while freshman Paul Books took third at 215.
Benner prevailed in the championship match at 145 pounds with a 6-2 decision over Winfield’s Tyler Sorter. Benner is actually ranked No. 1 at 152 in Class 2 by MissouriWrestling.com and won a state title at 135 last year.
However, Fulton lost Benner for at least a week — according to Hudson — after he suffered a lower back injury when he turned Sorter into a cradle position midway through the second period. Benner was able to complete the match and clinch the four-point win.
“(Drew) was able to gut it out; he’s a tough kid and hung in there,” Hudson said.
With the district championships less than three weeks away, Hudson noted that there was no definitive timetable for Benner’s return.
“There’s no need to hurry him back,” Hudson said.
Fritz — ranked No. 1 in the state — outlasted Moberly’s Davis Keleher in a 1-0 decision in their title match at 171 pounds on Saturday. Curtis, ranked No. 4, quickly pinned Moberly’s Tahlor Fowlkes in 45 seconds in his first-place victory at 140.
In the title match at 189 pounds, Luetkemeyer — also ranked No. 4 — scored a 7-2 decision over Winfield’s Justin Nicholson. Pae, ranked No. 5, easily put away Marshall’s Brandon Standley with a convincing 20-6 major decision in his championship win at 125.
McClure — also ranked No. 5 — rolled to an 18-3 technical fall over Union’s Dalton Krunzel in their title match at 130 pounds. In his first-place triumph at 103, Kaiser scored a swift pinfall victory over Brentwood’s Lucas Jones in :57.
Kingsley — ranked No. 10 at 160 pounds — dropped an 8-1 decision to Moberly’s Trey Smith in the championship at 152. Nunley was pinned by Union’s Devon Fennessy in 2:30 in their first-place match at 135.
Books pinned Marshall’s Barry Dendick in 2:28 in his third-place win at 215 pounds.
Fulton — which slipped three spots to No. 5 in Class 2 — travels to Moberly for a North Central Missouri Conference matchup against the Spartans at 6 tonight. The Hornets are 7-1 overall and 3-0 in the NCMC.
“We still need to be pushed a little bit,” Hudson said.