Tigers work back into conference race
By Joe Warren
Nevada Daily Mail
NEVADA, Mo. -- Freshman Chris Harris made his first varsity pin count and the Nevada Tigers received close wins from Matt Kennedy and Ryan Herda as they sent senior Keith Overton out in style in the final home wrestling match of his career Thursday.
Harris pinned McDonald County's Michael Lane with 55 seconds remaining in the second period, as the freshman clinched at least a team tie against the Mustangs in a Southwest Conference dual.
Wrestling in the 103-pound class, Harris dominated the Mustang sophomore, leading 8-0 before earning the fall. The pin gave Nevada a 36-24 lead with two matches remaining, meaning McDonald County would need to win both by pin just to tie.
Returning state qualifier Mason Heard followed with an impressive pin of his own, needing all but 11 seconds in the third period to beat Nathan Anderson in a battle of sophomores at 112 pounds. Anderson was third in the state at 112 last season. Heard's pin clinched the match for the Tigers and they went on to win 42-30.
"I knew it was going to be a tough dual," Nevada head coach Kevin Huck said. "I was very proud of all our kids."
Huck praised Harris, who had won at the varsity level before Thursday, but had not pinned an opponent yet.
"His match was particularly noteworthy," Huck said.
McDonald County, who lost by only 12 points to conference leader Neosho earlier this season, was thought of as one of three schools considered to be contenders for the crown in the league going into the season.
Nevada moved to 1-1 in conference duals this year, also having lost to Neosho.
"Chris wasn't the only one," Huck said. "Nick Nelson at 135 (pounds) picked up a huge win for us."
Nelson pinned Clayton Adams with 14 seconds remaining in the first period to give Nevada their first team points of the evening. Nelson was trailing Adams 5-4 with 26 seconds remaining in the period before a quick reversal turned into a pin.
Nelson had followed two losses by pin at 125 and 130 pounds for Nevada. Starting the match, freshman Wyatt Whitworth was pinned by Mustang sophomore Daniel Duckett with 21 seconds left in the first period.
At 130 pounds, McDonald County senior Steven Englert, another returning state qualifier, was able to pin Nevada freshman Colby Shepherd with 52 seconds left in the opening stanza.
After Nelson's pin got Nevada on the board, Kennedy won a tough match over Tommy Pickens at 140 pounds. Kennedy led 4-3 after one period, 9-5 after two. In the third it was Pickens closing the gap to 10-9 with a takedown with 1:06 left in the match. Ten seconds later Kennedy forced a reversal and he held on 14-11.
At 145 pounds, Nevada's Josh Palmer was pinned by D.J. Hatfield with 39 seconds remaining in the second period. Hatfield led 2-0 after one period and was up 5-0 when he earned the fall.
The fall by Hatfield put McDonald County up 18-9, but the tide would turn as Nevada won five straight matches.
Cole Bond pinned Josh Smithson with 1:24 left in the second period to bring Nevada within three. Bond dominated the entire match with the Mustang junior, leading 10-4 after the first period.
Overton, the lone Nevada senior who was honored on "Senior Night" before the match, broke down Kaylub Divine and won 11-4 at 160 pounds to tie the match at 18.
Sophomore Spenser Daniels continued his tear through the 171-pound class as he pinned McDonald County's Josh Marchisio in 66 seconds, giving Nevada a 24-18 lead.
At 189 pounds was another impressive Nevada win, as Herda edged super Mustang freshman Kord Stancell 9-8. Stancell, who was second at the Tulsa Nationals in 2005, is considered one of the better 189-pounders in Class 2.
Herda attacked Stancell, being the aggressor for the first two periods as he led 6-3 before being taken down with eight seconds left in the second. After being cut loose to start the third, Herda got a takedown of his own to make it 9-5 with 1:31 to go, and he held on despite being taken down again with 18 seconds left in the match.
At 215 pounds was the most exciting match of the night, as Jerrod Alexander needed two overtimes to beat Matt Horton, 2-1. The only scoring the entire match came on escapes as the much bigger Horton and the determined Alexander wrestled to a 1-1 stalemate after regulation.
Alexander earned an escape in the second overtime with 14 seconds remaining to win in sudden death.
In the heavyweight class Ethan Fast was pinned by Mustang state qualifier Colby Fisher, with 59 seconds left in the first.
That set the stage for Harris and Heard, with the dual finally ending on a pin by Mustang junior Jayson Keith over Drew Shepherd at 119 pounds.
"I think this is a step in the right direction," Huck said about the win. "The kids couldn't have done a better job of coming together as a team."
Nevada wrestles in a tournament at Excelsior Springs Saturday, then has a dual at Harrisonville Tuesday. Nevada is now 3-2 overall in duals this season.