There might have been a better way to script his final appearance at the Rocky Welton Invitational wrestling tournament on Saturday.
But that didn’t seem to bother Scott City senior Jarret Jurgens one iota, after he earned a solid 4-2 decision over Franklin Cruz of Pomona, Colo., to capture the gold medal in the 160-pound weight class.
“I liked that I could take him down, so it was important for me to be able to stay on top and not let him get away from me,” said Jurgens, who was a repeat champion after claiming the 2017 crown at 152 pounds. “It was all about getting the win.”
Jurgens said he still believed he can wrestle better by improving his overall conditioning and cited being winded down the final minute of the third, two-minute period.
“I was out of air and just kind of hanging on,” said Jurgens, who improved his season record to 22-1. “I kind of had an idea of what he liked to do, and I just tried to make sure that he didn’t get me taken down.”
Repeating as a Welton champion is a season highlight for the Beaver wrestler, especially this being his last appearance.
“This is big for me my senior year,” Jurgens said. “Going out on top here is very satisfying. I grew up with the Greater Gold program in Garden City, so I know the history of the Welton. It’s probably the toughest tournament I wrestle in all year.”
That local training at an early age has made him familiar with not only Scott City fans, but also the Garden City wrestling community.
“There’s a lot of people in the stands rooting me on, so it was a good feeling,” Jurgens said. “The atmosphere here is just a lot different than it is at most other tournaments.”
Although he’s happy with the way his season is progressing, Jurgens said there is still room to fine tune several aspects of his wrestling skills.
“Need to work on my tilts and trying to get in better shape,” he said. “I’ve been going on a lot of morning runs to improve my stamina.”
It’s been a big move forward from his freshman season, when he placed 11th at 132 pounds. In his sophomore year, he had just returned from an injury when he appeared at the Welton, and finished second. He’s more than made up for that with the back-to-back gold medals.
“I’ve just felt more confident in what I’m doing,” Jurgens said. “It’s a nice way to finish my high school wrestling here.”
His teammate, junior Wyatt Hayes, also finished in the medal hunt, placing fifth at 170 pounds. Hayes (26-3) went 4-2 during the two-day invitational, with one of his setbacks coming to eventual champion and unbeaten Troy Fisher of Class 5A Goddard in the Friday semifinals. In his final match Saturday, Hayes outlasted Isaiah Martinez of Santa Fe, N.M., with an 8-4 decision.
In addition to the two Scott City medal winners, Holcomb had the only other two placers among the top six finishers.
Both Chance Rodriguez (182) and Tanner Johnson (170) took fourth in their respective weight divisions.
Each of the Longhorn wrestlers posted records of 5-2 over the tournament’s schedule, with Johnson now owning a 25-6 season record and Rodriguez sporting a 24-2 mark.
Rodriguez finished off his performance on Saturday with an heartbreaking 7-6 decision loss to Nick Jouret of Class 6A Olathe South.
“He’s really good and the big thing was that I was able to take him down early,” Rodriguez said of Jouret (32-3), the 2017 Class 6A 170-pound state champion. “It’s probably one of the best matches I had, but I need to get another takedown to win it.”
Rodriguez said over the next couple of weeks in preparation of the Class 4A regionals, and then state, he will practice to get better on his feet and get in better shape.
“I’ve got to work harder to keep my feet constantly moving and not stand still,” Rodriguez said. “I’m at my best when I’m on top.”
While he would have preferred to have a higher finish, considering how deep the talent pool was in his weight class, he was pleased with how he competed.
“It wasn’t the finish I wanted, but it’s easily the toughest tournament I wrestle in all season,” Rodriguez said.
The remaining area teams did not have any wrestlers make it to the medal stand as a top six finisher. Those teams included Hugoton, Ulysses and Lakin.
Next up for Scott City and Holcomb will be Saturday’s Great West Activities Conference tournament, which Holcomb will serve as the host.