Stiles, Miller dominant for Nevada at Pleasant Hill
PLEASANT HILL, Mo. -- The annual Steve Leslie Invitational tournament began Friday night at Pleasant Hill High School and ultimately brought a mixed bag for the Nevada wrestling squad by the time its opening night of competition was over.
"It wasn't quite as good as what I was hoping, but not bad," Nevada head coach Devin White said of his squad's performance in the first four rounds of pool bouts. "I saw some things that looked good, saw some things that need improvement."
Among the good things for the Tigers were the dominant, but not unexpected performances put on by senior Slade Stiles and freshman Dayton Miller. As the two smallest wrestlers on the Tigers' roster, hopes were high for both the 106-pound Miller and the 120-pound Stiles and both lived up to those expectations.
Stiles dominated all four of the pool matches he competed in on the night, winning every one by pin. In two of those matches -- against Shawnee Mission Northwest's Brian Morelan and Boonville's Brandon Ashpaugh -- Stiles was on the mat for a combined total of just 55 seconds and his longest match of the night lasted just 1:33.
Miller wasn't quite as dominant in his two matches on the night, but still gave White a lot to praise. Despite being undersized and possibly a bit over-matched in terms of strength, Miller won his first match over Pleasant Hill's Kaler Selvin by a 12-3 major decision before going on to pin Adrian's Zak Dabney.
"He's got a tough weight class right now, really tough," White said of Miller. "But he's wrestling well."
After those two dominant performances, Miller got to rest for the remainder of the night as he finished the first four rounds of pool bouts with two consecutive byes.
Colby Smith was the high point for the Tigers in the heavier weight classes as he finished 4-0 with three pinfall victories and a bye in the 220-pound pool bouts. Heavyweight Tucker Wingert nearly echoed that success as he rebounded from an opening-bout loss to Ruskin's Jamal Karriem to win his next bout and finished the night with a pair of byes.
Things weren't all good for the Tigers on the tournament's opening night, however. Of the remaining athletes on White's active roster, just two -- Dalton Shunkwiler and True Beisly -- were able to win more than one bout.
"We're sloppy," White said. "You know, that takes time on the mat, experience on the mat to fix that."
Shunkwiler and Beisly both gave performances comparable to the Tigers' overall showing as a team as they each had good and bad moments. White wasn't too surprised by the struggles shown by Beisly, however, since he was wrestling for the first time since he was on the Nevada Middle School wrestling squad as an eighth-grader.
"He wrestled well," White said of the senior. "You know, he just hasn't been on the mat in four years, so, you know, it just takes time to wear that off."
The Tigers are scheduled to be back in Pleasant Hill today, to finish out the pool bouts before entering bracket competition on the tournament's final day. Fifth-round pool bouts are scheduled to start at 10 a.m.