The Manhattan Indians wrestling team ended its dual season with a split at Washburn Rural on Thursday.
In the first match, Manhattan lost a nailbiter to Blue Valley Northwest 38-35, before coming back in the second dual and beating Rural 36-32 to end on a win.
Manhattan’s senior class is now 49-8 in duals, good for a .859 winning percentage.
“I feel good coming off last night, and feel good for our seniors,” Manhattan coach Robert Gonzales said. “They’re a great group of kids.”
Manhattan got three pins in the first four matches against Blue Valley Northwest, taking an 18-4 lead.
But the Huskies rallied, taking advantage of some of the youth in Manhattan’s lineup, as Sterling Shimp (132), Kendrick Rivera (138) and Derek Forrest (152) all lost their varsity debuts filling in for injured regulars after spending the season on JV.
Davis Matthews (145), Austin Chauncey (160) and Michael Forshee (170) all won to keep Manhattan in the hunt, with Jordan Price (195) getting an important pin.
But with Chance Drake and CJ Mooreman-Meador out, the Indians had an open weight and JV wrestlers Emir Murphy and Florian Theisen in the lineup, with both wrestlers giving up pins that allowed the Huskies just enough team points to pull out the win.
“Those last two, they got two pinfalls,” Gonzales said. “We don’t like losing, but we’re not making excuses. We showed up, they showed up, and they won.”
Chauncey won 12-0 and nearly had a pin, with Matthews also coming close to a pinfall.
Drake’s open slot also gave up six team points, so the Indians were close.
“We had that guy on his back several times, but we just couldn’t quite get the pin and those three pin points,” Gonzales said. “If we get those two pins, we’re in great shape.”
In the second match, Manhattan made some adjustments in its lineup that proved to be the difference.
Gonzales inserted Mike Leeper into the lineup at 160, bumping up Chauncey and Forshee to eliminate the open slot. Gonzales also switched Murphy to 195 and Price to 220 to give his team a better shot at winning.
Jase Stone got a 3-2 win against a state-ranked opponent to strengthen his resume heading into the postseason, while Kian Clemens (120), Dallas Vesta (126) and Matthews each earned victories to move to 2-0 on the day and help build Manhattan’s early lead.
Forrest, after losing his first varsity match, earned a 4-0 at 152 to help swing the momentum in favor of Manhattan, with Leeper and Chauncey both pinning their opponents.
At 182, Forshee lost to Allen Davis 9-8, but was better than the six-point open slot.
“He didn’t give up a six-point forfeit,” Gonzales said. “He gave up three and it ends up being a good swing for us.
“I knew it was going to be close.”
At 195, Murphy was pinned, but Price came right back at 220 to earn the pin and seal the victory.
Theisen ended Manhattan’s day with a 5-4 loss to make the final score 36-32.
“We’re fortunate to get out of Washburn Rural with a 1-1 record,” Gonzales said.
“I wanted us to win, but we could have easily been 0-2 and really been feeling bad.”
With dual season over, Manhattan has a week to prepare for the league tournament, with regionals and state to follow.
“The league tournament is a barn burner with so many strong schools traditionally,” he said.
“I don’t anticipate the regional even being that tough. It just makes for a good day’s wrestling.”