Whereas Senior Night is almost always near the end of a season, Manhattan High wrestling celebrated its five seniors on Thursday in the first home dual meet of the season.
“A little awkward,” MHS head coach Robert Gonzales said.
His Indians lost to Bonner Springs, 39-31. However, he didn’t seem concerned because of the circumstances.
First, Gonzales said the schedule is meant to be tough — especially at the beginning of the season. He wants to prepare his team.
“They’re going to think, ‘We’re not doing too good,’” Gonzales said. “Hey, the schedule is designed for us to not go undefeated, and for nobody on our team to go undefeated.”
The biggest highlights for MHS came via three seniors — Bubba Wilson, Robert Houston and Quincy Saddler.
Wilson, a Nebraska commit, dominated his match at the 160-pound weight class. He came out aggressive from the start and his opponent offered little resistance.
When Wilson was a freshman, he said he entered matches nervous. Now, he’s different.
“Now, it’s just like, I’m enjoying myself on the mat and I enjoy competing for my coaches and for my team,” Wilson said. “I really like it. I just have fun out there. I am confident in my abilities.”
Houston, also a linebacker on the football team, blitzed his opponent. He pinned his man in a few seconds and never let up.
Relentlessness is his strategy.
“I go out there and just hope for the best,” said Houston, who wrestled at 195 pounds. “Go out there and go hard. Just push the pace. That’s my mentality. You can’t show weakness or they’ll use that against you. If you show weakness, they’ll try to use it against you, try to take advantage of you.
“So you’ve got to push the pace, keep pushing, do your moves, not let them do your moves. Just keep going.”
Saddler also won his match in the 170-pound weight class.
Gonzales said he didn’t want to make excuses. However, five MHS freshmen wrestled in Thursday’s meet. That number increased as the Indians were missing two regulars due to injury.
Three of those freshmen lost.
“They get down and discouraged, and I just remind them that it’s wrestling,” Gonzales said. “We’ll be OK.”
Added Wilson on the freshmen: “They work really hard. They show a lot of potential and I think they’ll get there. They’ll be right where I’m at come senior year.”
One of them was Talique Houston, Robert’s younger brother.
“I could tell he was a little bit nervous,” Robert said. “I remember my first time being on varsity. Big crowd, the fans. You get kind of nervous. I understand where he was coming from. He was nervous, and he was not really wrestling to his full potential.”
MHS will host a dual tournament on Saturday. It begins at 10 a.m. and is expected to end in the evening.
On Dec. 14-15, the Indians will participate in a two-day, 32-team tournament in Grand Island, Nebraska.
In front of a big crowd Thursday, the Indians lost a dual meet.
But Gonzales believes they will become stronger as the season progresses.
He said their issues are correctable.
For Wilson, it was weird wrestling in his final home dual meet. In a way, though, it might be good.
“It’s kind of nice because you get it out of the way — no more distractions,” he said. “Get to continue on, and when postseason comes, I get to focus on only that and not, ‘Oh, it’s my last year.”