By KEVIN THOMPSON
Otto Orosco of Ulysses was the top performer at the Class 4A State Wrestling tournament Saturday in Salina at the Bicentennial Center.
The Tiger senior earned a 5-1 decision over Jon Yates of Buhler to claim the title at 220 pounds.
"He wrestled really well," Ulysses coach Joe Gonzales said of Orosco's performance. "We weren't expecting to see (Yates) in the final, but we were pretty confident going into the finals match since we've seen Yates twice this year and beat him both times."
The most recent matchup for these two was last week in the regional finals, and Gonzales said Orosco handled him well in the state final despite Yates' knowledge of what moves to avoid this time around.
The top seed out of the Colby regional, Orosco pinned Chandler Carter of DeSoto in just 57 seconds in his semifinal to get to the title match.
He started the tournament Friday with a pin over Chris Betzen of Andale in just 37 seconds. Orosco won a 10-3 decision over Tanner Foulk of Osawatomie in the quarterfinals. He finished the season at 33-3.
It was an improved showing for Orosco from just a year ago, when he finished fifth. He was injured his first two seasons, so the last two seasons have been a rewarding, albeit short, high school career.
"He's a wrestling-minded kid whose been doing this all his life. Getting to state last year obviously helped his confidence," Gonzales said.
Zach Miller was the Tigers' only other medalist, placing fifth at 120 pounds.
Holton won the team title with 114 points. Ulysses finished ninth with 49 after qualifying seven of its nine varsity wrestlers.
"Overall, we wrestled pretty well," Gonzales said. "We had a couple of disappointing losses where we could have battled a little better."
Scott City's Warren Kropp finished third at 170 pounds. Kropp won a 3-2 decision over Blake Hampton of Shawnee Heights. After losing his opening round by a fall, Kropp decisioned his way through the backside matches to claim his bronze medal. Teammate James Jurgens lost his first two matches at 126. Hugoton's Brad Campbell was fifth at 195 and was the lone Eagles' representative at the state this year.
At Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays, AJ Cooper of Cimarron was the highest area placer in the Class 3-2-1A state tournament.
The Bluejay junior was runner-up at 195 pounds, losing to undefeated Tristan Speer of Troy, 6-1, in the championship bout.
Cooper won his first round with a 16-2 major decision and his quarterfinal with a 10-3 decision. He defeated Quentin Clark of Minneapolis 3-0 in the semifinals.
Cimarron coach Lance Walker said Speer was definitely a tough opponent.
"That took us out of our game plan a little bit. We certainly didn't look like we normally do on the mat," he said.
Cooper (33-7) was familiar with a number of the entrants in his bracket, Walker said, so he felt confident of his chances. Speer, however, was one they didn't know much about.
"Turned out, he was pretty tough," Walker said.
Cooper wrestled at state last year at 182 pounds, when he won a match on the backside but did not medal.
Walker also coaches the South Gray wrestlers, and the Rebels' Zack Crick finished fourth at 285 pounds after qualifying but not placing last year.
"I think it was a good place for him," Walker said. "They were all pretty equally matched."
Crick lost in the semifinals, 7-5 by decision, to the eventual runner-up from Beloit, and that shows how well Crick matched up against the field, Walker said.
"Crick had been ranked pretty high all year, so he was somewhat disappointed," Walker said. "He wanted to finish a little bit higher. But when it was all said and done, he was happy with what he got."
The senior had to win three matches Saturday morning just to put himself in the position to medal, Walker said, and that in itself was quite a feat. He finished the season at 40-7.
Wichita County senior Brice Mason won a 6-2 decision to take third at 182 pounds. He pinned his first two opponents before falling to Gavin Grater of Riley County in the semifinals.
On the backside, Mason got a pin at 4:58 over Braedan Lockhart of Silver Lake to get to his medal match. Mason finished the season at 41-5. Teammate Colton Northrup wrestled at 195.
Other area competitors who wrestled but did not place were Sublette's Junior Torres (106), Greeley County's Isaac Stone (113) and Lakin's Jared Burrows (182).