Elusive title slips away from Chieftains
The title was right there, just waiting for Tonganoxie to claim it.
Year after year, the Chieftains have produced respectable results at their home meet -- the Randy Starcher Memorial Invitational -- but every year they come up short in the team standings and have to settle for second.
So there the Chieftains were again Saturday. Tonganoxie led the field going into the finals with a six-point edge against Louisburg. THS had seven grapplers in the finals; the Wildcats had five. Tonganoxie also seemed to have some momentum in the final consolation match. Competing in the 275-pound division, senior Alan Bauerly rallied with a late pin against Atchison's Rob Randall and placed third in his division.
It came down to the championship round, a level the Chieftains sometimes have struggled with. Last year, Tonganoxie had seven wrestlers in the finals, but couldn't muster one victory and eventually lost to Atchison by about 25 points.
This season, Justin Smith opened in the 112 division with a decision loss, but Hunter Samuels defeated Oskaloosa's Jeff Peterson, 7-3, in the 119. Atchison's Jovonni Franklin pinned Tonganoxie's Brad Nickel in the 130, but Garrett Palmer responded with his first tournament title, defeating Topeka West's Steve Guerrero in a thrilling 4-2 overtime victory.
Tonganoxie appeared poised for a major home victory.
Palmer's victory, however, would be Tonganoxie's last.
Ross Starcher, a cousin to the Tonganoxie tournament's namesake, nearly had a gold medal to go with his Salina South Invitational hardware in the 145. But Louisburg's Chad