PARK CITY — Jacob Holt has done his best not to put too much pressure on himself as he pursued his place in the annals of Garden City High School wrestling.
After winning the 113-pound title in his freshman season, Holt was hoping to make it two in a row Saturday, this time two weight classes up at 126.
But after taking an early 2-0 lead, Holt let his advantage slip away, with his match against Olathe South’s top-ranked Jace Koelzer going into sudden victory. And 42 seconds later, his pursuit of consecutive state titles was dashed as he dropped a 4-2 decision at Park City's Hartman Arena.
For Holt, it was a disappointment that he was having difficulty grasping, searching for the answer as to how he wrestled the match.
“I think I just got too confident,” Holt said after he had taken down Koelzer just 13 seconds into the match.
Three seconds later, Koelzer got a 1-point escape and that’s how the first period ended.
Holt took the bottom position for the start of the second period, but was unable to score any points with an escape.
“I think getting that early lead got to my head,” Holt said. “When we got tied up, I was trying to think, 'What will I do?' I wasn’t thinking about scoring points, I was thinking about defending.”
Holt, who finished his season 40-9, said it will be a learning experience that he hopes to bring back with a passion for his junior season.
When Holt took the top position for the start of the third period, it was only two seconds later that Koelzer got the tying point with an escape. From there, it was a battle between the state’s two top-ranked 6A wrestlers in that weight class. With 20 seconds to go in regulation, Holt managed to hold off a potential takedown by Koelzer and the clock wound down and sent it to the extra one-minute period (first wrestler to score wins).
“It’s the toughest (loss) of the year, for sure,” Holt said. “I’ll learn from this. Friday, all the matches went my way, and in some way, sitting around all day, maybe I wasn’t as ready as I needed to be.”
GCHS assistant coach Paul Lappin said Koelzer was about as tough an opponent as Holt had taken on all season, as Koelzer was the Rocky Welton champion at that weight in late January.
“He’s a Fargo (N.D.) national champion, and Jacob was right in the match,” Lappin said. “He’s (Koelzer) a stud. In a match like this, it’s the little things that make the big difference.”
Lappin, who was subbing in for head coach Carlos Prieto, who was at home due to illness, said he was happy with how the Buffs competed over the two days of the state tourney.
“Overall, it was a good team effort,” Lappin said. “We knew coming in we had a lot of kids sitting on the bubble (for medals). We figured we could be anywhere from two or three to as many as eight or nine, and we had seven, so I think it’s definitely a positive.”
Lappin said even the matches that were lost were close and competitive.
“Every match, we were in it,” he said. “The whole group fought their tails off. Certainly we’re excited for the future. I think we’re gonna be big trouble for the future.”
In the team chase, the Buffs finished fifth with 116 points, just five ahead of Wichita South. Olathen North won the team championship, followed by Washburn Rural and Manhattan.
The Buffaloes earned six of their seven medals in the consolation side of the bracket, with the bulk of those coming from their promising group of sophomores and freshmen.
Sophomore Silas Pineda had the top effort in that group, placing third at 113 pounds, with a resounding 8-0 major decision win over rival Couy Weil of Dodge City.
“Coming off the loss yesterday (semifinals), I wanted to improve on my attack moves,” Pineda said. “Those helped me tremendously, especially with my counter moves against Weil.”
Pineda (29-16), with his other young teammates echoing the same sentiment, said the future looks bright for the Buffs.
“Us being younger, this year we were doing a lot better, so we’re looking forward to seeing how much better we can be,” he said.
Diago Hernandez garnered a fifth-place finish at 120, by winning over Dallas Koelzer of Olathe South in a 4-2 decision. Hernandez, another sophomore, finished the season at 29-10.
Kaj Perez, who had second- and third-place medals his freshman and sophomore seasons before missing out his junior season, capped off his career by taking fourth.
In the third-place match, Perez (31-17) had perhaps one of the most exciting bouts of the day before falling 12-9 to Jerad Habben of Shawnee Mission Northwest.
At 152 pounds, freshman Trey Medina captured fifth with a 13-6 decision of Zach Schram of Blue Valley West.
For Medina (37-18) it was an emotional way to finish his first year with the Buffs. His older brother, Braxston, was shot and killed in September 2011 during his senior year and was a multi-year medalist at the state wrestling meet.
“Everything I do I try to honor him,” the younger Medina said. “I think he’s smiling today. He would have wanted me to do better, but he’d be happy with me winning this last match.”
Sophomore Alex Rodriguez had a heartbreaking, 2-1 ultimate tiebreaker loss to Quincy Saddler of Manhattan at 170 pounds, before Refugio Chairez, another sophomore, capped off the consolation matches with a 4-3 win over Manhattan’s Hunter Christensen.
“I’m happy and excited about what our young team can do,” Chairez said after finishing the season with a 23-13 record. “This is a confidence booster, and the team’s just gonna get better. We all think of it (team’s bright outlook) even though we don’t really talk about it. Everything’s just gotten better this season.”
Contact Brett Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org