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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANTHONY REYES @NWATONYR Rogers High's Jake Turner started his season off last weekend by winning his weight class at the Butler (Mo.) Invitational. The defending Class 6A-7A state champion at 138 pounds had been sidelined by an injury.


Turner starts new year off right

On The Mat

This week’s wrestling schedule:


Rogers High at Cabot Invitational

Rogers Heritage, Fayetteville, Bentonville at Branson (Mo.) Invitaitonal

Bentonville West at Catoosa (Okla.) Invitational

Rogers High at Cabot Invitational

The junior was slowed in December by injury but went 5-0 Saturday to win the 145-pound weight class at the Butler (Mo.) Invitational.

Rogers coach Ken Simmons said Turner, who finished 56-1 as a sophomore, is not quite in wrestling shape yet, but still competed well.

"He got a little winded, but looked pretty good," Simmons said. "He wrestled a good kid in the finals, a state medalist, and beat a good kid in the semis, too."

Junior Mykha Hunter also won the at 132, while senior Carsen Smith took second and sophomore Nathan Hahn (170) third.

Simmons said Hunter is bringing some of the potential he's shown in practice to competition.

"We've seen some potential, but it doesn't always come out," Simmons said. "But he performed really well. The guy that beat him was a two-time state medalist. He's put in a lot of hard work in the summer and preseason. You're starting to see a little gleam in the diamond.

"Hahn has wrestled well to this point, too. He's like 24 and two and lost to a pretty good kid in the semis."


Walton finishes strong

Springdale High's Logan Walton didn't get off to the best start in his clash of defending state champions in Saturday's 132-pound final at the Crain Automotive tournament in Fayetteville, but he sure finished well.

Walton, the defending Class 6A-7A state champion at 120, trailed Searcy's Brad Brown, the defending champion at 126, 10-2 in the third period but put together a quick move to get a pin and the win.

Teammate Isaac Ponce, the defending state runner-up at 106, wasn't so fortunate in his matchup against Greenbrier's Christ Whisenant, the defending 1A-5A champion at 113. Ponce was up late, but got taken to overtime and lost 14-10.

Springdale coach Josh Rivers had a similar message for both wrestlers that his high school coach gave to him.

"It's a dress rehearsal for state," Rivers said. "We can make our mistakes, but we've gotta be ready for state. Isaac, you lost. Logan, you won. But we have things to correct."

The Red Bulldogs have struggled with some early injuries and will take this weekend off to fine-tune and heal up, Rivers said. But he believes Springdale can be a top-five team at the state tournament in about a month. The Red'Dogs finished seventh a year ago, the best finish in program history.


Fox shows heart

Senior Stephen Fox knocked off a state runner-up in Missouri to win the 132-pound weight class at the Monett (Mo.) Invitational, but that's not what Bentonville West coach Aaron Wise was most pleased about his performance.

But the fact that Fox, a defending 6A-7A state runner-up himself at 126, battled from behind and scored seven points a little more than a minute in the third period for the 8-6 win had Wise beaming. He finished it with a takedown in the final 15 seconds of the match.

"He showed heart in that third period," Wise said. "He scored seven points in a minute and 15 seconds. Most guys are gonna check it in right there. He was down 5-1 in the second period and looks over and kinda hangs his head. I knew he was upset.

"But he stayed with it. And I told him I was proud of him more for how he just went after him when he was down."

West said freshman Charles Easterling is also making progress, finishing second at Monett.

"He took a couple losses in Kansas early and that second loss he probably shouldn't have," West said. "But after that, I've been seeing a difference in him in practice."


Wildcats making strides

Wildcats coach Eric Nolan likes the progress his team continues to make, taking second in the Crossroads Duals in Cameron, Mo. over the weekend.

Har-Ber lost in the finals to Millard (Neb.) South 42-20 and finished the day 4-1. The school, which is located in Omaha, is the three-time defending state dual and team champion in the largest classification in Nebraska.

"A big positive for our kids is we saw a lot of tough wrestling and it was good to see us be competitive with a high caliber team like that," Nolan said. "We learned some lessons from our loss to Nixa last week and it helped us win a tough dual against Odessa and to go undefeated in our pool.

"We're learning how valuable it is in the dual format to do everything you can not to get pinned. A good example was Aaron Keyes lost 5-0 to a real tough kid. That helped us win that dual, which was very close."

Ben Fears, Max Salinas and Logan Collins all went undefeated, while Quentin Reed had only one loss and came up with a big win over Millard South in the finals.


Muller gaining confidence

Matthew Muller's confidence has skyrocketed from a year ago and that showed as he won the 182-pound weight class at the Crain Automotive tournament in Fayetteville on Saturday.

The junior, who was sixth a week ago in the ultra-tough Kinloch Classic in Springfield, Mo., was in control for most of the finals in winning 8-1 over Springdale High's Roland Joran.

"He's placed in every tournament this year," Fayetteville coach Nika West said. "He's got a lot more confidence in his shots and attacking the legs more than a year ago. He seemed to control that final match from the start. I thought that was a dominant performance by him.

"He was 195 a year ago and I think dropping down a weight class makes a huge difference, too."

Senior Nathan Simowitz also won at 170 in impressive fashion. He pinned Searcy's Ryan Tillery in 31 seconds in the finals.

He missed much of last season with a shoulder injury, but has come back strong, West said.

"He moved here last year from Chicago, and we've worked to calm him down," West said. "We want him to slow down and just wrestle."

In addition, Marcus Tortorello avenged a day one loss in the tournament with a pinfall victory to get third at 220.

Sports on 01/11/2018

Print Headline: WRESTLING REPORT: Rogers High's Turner starts new year off right

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