Hittle places second at state
SALINA — Skyler Hittle, despite not wrestling the entire regular season, came within one win of defending his Class 4A state wrestling championship.
Hittle, the Concordia 195-pounder, suffered a foot injury during football season, and had to have surgery. His only mat appearance during the regular season was taking a forfeit in the final dual against Clay Center.
Returning to action in the regional tournament, Hittle, a senior, won three straight matches to place first and earn a fourth consecutive trip to state.
Hittle, who finished third as a sophomore before winning the state title last year, won three consecutive matches to move into the state finals.
The remarkable run by Hittle ended with a 6-2 loss to Dalton Weidl, a senior from Ottawa.
“If you know Skyler you know he is a competitor. He is disappointed, but he also understands being able to go out and compete after all he has been through is a great accomplishment. He understands that, but it will take him a while to accept it,” Concordia coach Kevin Brown said, “Like any other competitor he will reassess his goals and that is going to push him and make him stronger.”
Hittle (7-1) dominated in his first three matches. He pinned Sam Shank, Jefferson West, with one second remaining.
In the quarterfinals, Hittle needed just 27 seconds to pin Bryce Misenhelter, Iola, who went into the tournament 40-4 and ended up placing third.
Hittle then stuck Dylan Thompson, Spring Hill, in the second period to advance to the championship match.
“He went out in the first three matches and put those kids away. There was no doubt who was going to win those matches,” Brown said.
Weidl, who finished 39-3, also cruised into the finals. He won his first two matches by fall and then beat Taylon Lamkin, Wellington, 13-2 in the semifinals.
Building a 6-0 lead in the match, Weidl was able to hold on to beat Hittle to claim the championship.
“On that night he was the better kid,” Brown said, “I think we would all like to have seen a 100 percent Skyler go out against him and see what he would have done. Skyler was not 100 percent, we knew that going in. He ran up against a kid who is an extremely athletic kid. It just wasn't in the cards. That kid had a game plan. Hats off to him, he wrestled a great match.”
Concordia had Cameron Miller (126) and Kyle Marks (220) pick up one win each in the tournament.
Cole Larsen (113) suffered consecutive losses.
The Panthers scored 30 points to finish 25th.
Holton easily defended its 4A title with 114 points. Chanute was a distant second with 76 points and Smoky Valley was third with 72 points.
Miller, a sophomore making his second straight trip to state, pulled out a 7-5 win over Payton Smith, Winfield, in the opening round.
Colby Johnson, Burlington, defeated Miller 6-1 in the quarterfinals.
Miller (31-10) was pinned by Luis Mendoza, Ulysses.
“Cameron, he is just a sophomore and he is already wrestling at an extremely high level,” Brown said.
Marks, a senior, was also making a second consecutive appearance in the state tournament. He needed just 15 seconds to pin Ian O’Laughlin, Augusta,
Chandler Carter, DeSoto, pinned Marks in the third period.
Marks (32-17) then lost by fall to Dalton Holt, Wellington.
“It was unfortunate for Kyle because he is a senior, but he has a geat year,” Brown said.
Freshman Cole Larsen lost a 9-0 major decision to Case Pemberton, Prairie View in the opening round.
Andrew Adrian, Atchison, defeated Larsen, 7-3.
“He gained some valuable experience. From here on out, he is only going to get better,” Brown said, “His second match could have gone either way. They were pretty evenly matched kids.”
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