Bison 'swag' leads to great SWC wins
McCOOK, Neb. — Seeds only grew McCook’s determination to plant several memorable defeats on higher-rated foes at Friday’s Southwest Conference meet.
Take sophomore Landon Towne as a perfect Bison example. He didn’t care that Ty Richardson of Ainsworth or Valentine’s Brody Benson brought higher seeds into the 152-pound field.
They were a combined 36-13 coming into McCook High School, but Towne (14-18 record) beat them both while taking a SWC second-place finish.
“Landon Towne is a man on fire right now,” coach Nick Umscheid declared. “He is, in my opinion, our most dangerous wrestler right now. He is wrestling at a very high level, with lots of swag.”
Towne blazed into the title match where Broken Bow’s mighty Joel Myers (40-2 record) cooled him with a 1:32 pin.
Class C No. 2 Bow was second to no one in the SWC, winning a team title over top contenders Gothenburg and Class C No. 1 Ainsworth.
Yet the Bison chewed up some high seeds even when facing Bow.
Sophomore Mason Bales delivered one of the tourney’s best early upsets as he pinned Bow 20-match winner Austin Cole (4:49).
Bales later scored another pin over Ogallala’s Ryan Queen five seconds before the first period was finished.
He earned fourth at 132 pounds, and Bales became one of eight Bison who captured top four places in this eight-team showdown.
“The team performed excellent on Friday,” Umscheid confirmed as McCook tallied 103 points for fifth overall. “We had several of our wrestlers outperform their seeds in this tournament, which is always what you are hoping to do.”
What were the other biggest Bison wins during this tourney at McCook High School?
Sophomore Carson Richards trouncing Bow’s Spencer Gaffney, 12-2, in the 120-pound consolation final.
Gafney’s awesome 39 wins (39-5 record) were among the best behind only teammate Myers’ 40-2 at this tourney.
Richards (27-13) didn’t care as he also stuck 25-match winner Blake Wyatt of Ogallala in 52 seconds. He recovered greatly from an earlier loss to Class C No. 1 Gage Krolikowski of Valentine (31-1).
McCook’s other most impressive victory?
Senior Kaleb Taylor conquering Class C No. 2 Treyvon Brooks from Bow. Brooks more than doubled Taylor’s win total this season, 34-14, since K.T. missed several meets due to a broken bone in his hand.
Maybe the match lasts longer if Taylor only uses one hand. He scored the pin 53 seconds into their title match to clinch a 220-pound league championship.
“Kaleb looked very solid on the mat while pinning both of his opponents,” Umscheid said.
Taylor’s season record improved to 14-0.
He’d enjoy repeating last year, when Taylor also suffered a mid-season injury and returned to break McCook High’s all-time record for consecutive pins.
But what were some other best Bison wins on Friday?
— Kody Hahn took home the 170-pound consolation title.
Hahn showed he can finish with a pin or go the distance. His final decision was a 7-5 “sudden” overtime conquest of Gothenburg’s Vincent Nichols.
— Trevor Felber won 113-pound consolation top honors.
He now boasts a 13-11 record, conquering full six-minute matches with two wrestlers who have 30 total wins this season.
— Just like Trevor, Tate Felber’s also better than break even (10-9 record) and he finished fourth at 126 on Friday.
Tate delivered his sudden victory over Cozad’s Breckin Loftin which earned his spot in the third-place match. He only surrendered two points to Gothenburg’s Wil Mannel (19-17 record) but lost 2-0.
A score which could easily be reversed in upcoming matchups.
— Heavyweight Hunter Cunningham also finished fourth thanks to a 51-second pin of Minden’s Joel Gonzalez.
McCook took a top five team placed with fewer wrestlers (10) than any of those top four league teams.
Minden also entered 10 wrestlers and tallied only 37 points.
Ogallala entered 13 but scored just 73 team points.
Jared Cole contributed three more Bison points thanks to one pin at 195 pounds.
The Bison wrestled without freshman Alec Langan, who should be ready for Class B district competition this weekend at Gothenburg.
McCook will be grappling for state tournament spots which takes place Feb. 15-17 at Omaha’s Century Link Center.
Watch for more details about the district competition later this week. Other SWC results can be seen at trackwrstling.com.