In a rivalry match against Junction City Wednesday night, the Manhattan High wrestling team was bested by the Blue Jays, 44-21.
Junction City has several key pieces back this year and should be a force in Class 6A, but that doesn’t make the loss any easier to swallow for coach Robert Gonzales and his team, though there was some silver lining for the Indians.
Both Chance Drake and Caleb Gorman made their Manhattan High wrestling debuts, with Drake winning by pin in 3:53.
“We got beat by a better team last night,” Gonzales said. “But we found a 182-pounder in Chance Drake. It was his first match in two years and we’re glad to have him out for wrestling. He looked solid and he beat a tremendous athlete. So we’re excited.”
Gorman, at 120, debuted against a defending state champion, but held his own.
“He got beat, but we were in the match,” Gonzales said. “And we’ve never seen him wrestle in four years of high school. So it was unfortunate that he had to open his career against a state champion.”
Otherwise, the night was tough for the Indians. They earned four wins on the night.
Jase Stone at 113 won by forfeit after the Blue Jay wrestler did not make weight. At 126, Kian Clemens won by fall in 4:23 over his opponent. At 132, Dallas Vesta won 7-2 over Amir McFarthing, with Drake’s pin over Jaylen Padilla rounding out the win column for the Indians.
Manhattan also had some close battles throughout the night as well.
At 152, Michael Leeper lost a 7-3 match against state-champion Andrew Millsap late.
“They were engaged in one of the most brutal, toughest match I’ve seen in a couple years,” Gonzales said. “We actually had blood coming out of one’s nose, and another one’s forehead. It was just really intense. The final score was 7-3. They got a takedown in the third period. That was an epic battle.”
Manhattan was without Davis Matthews and Josh Mullin after the two didn’t make weight, causing Gonzales to shift the lineup at the last second, with poor results.
“We had to do some adjusting, and I didn’t do a very good job of adjusting,” Gonzales said. “Taking Davis’ place, I had Erick Sanchez, who is a 132/138 pounder, but he’s a tremendous athlete for us. But they have a really good senior at that weight, and we lost 11-0. So that wasn’t a good move on my part.”
At 170, Michael Forshee lost a tough match 5-4, nearly making a comeback at the end. CJ Mooreman-Meador lost to James Denton at 220, 9-7.
“We lose those three battles, which were great, physical, intense and combative,” he said. “We couldn’t ask more from our kids.”
The team will be busy this weekend, wrestling a dual at Emporia on Friday night before traveling to Abilene for a tournament on Saturday.