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Morning Sun
  • PHS wins the struggle

  • The Pittsburg High School wrestling team hosted its only home duals of the regular season Thursday night, sweeping Southeast Kansas League rival Independence (46-30) and former SEK League rival Columbus (56-20) on Senior Night.

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  • The Pittsburg High School wrestling team hosted its only home duals of the regular season Thursday night, sweeping Southeast Kansas League rival Independence (46-30) and former SEK League rival Columbus (56-20) on Senior Night.
    “It wasn’t pretty and sometimes I guess that’s how it is,” Pittsburg head coach Scott Rieck said. “If you pull off a win struggling, it’s not a bad thing. It’s when you struggle and lose, then you have some problems.
    “We’ve got a lot of work to do in a short amount of time. We’re just not wrestling real clean. Some of the kids are, you know, some look good and some didn’t. At this point, like I told them, I want them to be one heartbeat. If you’ve got 14 guys with different heartbeats, then we’re not going to be a good, solid team. Right now, we’re not that one heartbeat.”
    The four seniors — Gershom Avalos, Ivan Carrell, Jeremiah Jones and Matt Tallie — and senior manager Skyler McGuire were honored between the Independence and Columbus matches.
    “It’s a good group,” Rieck said. “Jeremiah and Gershom have been in the stable of ours for three or four years now. Jeremiah’s looking for his third state medal and there’s only been a few of our kids that have medaled three times. For him, if he achieves three medals, that’s huge.
    “Avalos is ranked No. 2 right now in Class 4A. He’s looking really, really good.
    Both of those boys are focused in on winning that state title and we expect big things out of our four seniors because they are seniors.
    “They (Avalos and Jones) are our leaders this year. They’re not vocal people. What they are is leaders that lead by example. They’re both great guys where nothing negative comes out of their mouth. Avalos and Jones are two of the most positive people you’ll ever meet in your life. That’s part of the reason they’re performing so well right now.”
    Pittsburg fell behind against Independence early, as Levi Kester (106 pounds) lost by pinfall to Curtis Burnett in the opening match. The Purple Dragons came back with 22 straight points, Independence scored 18 straight to go back ahead 24-22 and Pittsburg helped itself with crucial pins by freshman Will Mengarelli (170) and senior Carrell (195). Pittsburg regained the lead on the Carrell pin, 34-30, and Independence forfeited at 220 and 285.
    A couple Pittsburg wrestlers enjoyed leads against Independence opponents but let down their guard to be pinned late in the match.
    “Some of the boys are going to have to do some soul-searching and figure out what is the block in their head because right now it’s not a technical issue, it’s an issue that’s between their ears,” Rieck said. “They’re losing focus. They’re not listening to their corner. The focus is the big piece. If you lose focus, you’re going to lose. I don’t care if it’s a football game, a basketball game or a wrestling match, if you lose focus for a split-second in a wrestling match, you’re going to get pinned. Focus has been an issue with this group this year.”
    Page 2 of 2 - The Pittsburg schedule features several challenging tournaments — Tulsa Union, Gardner-Edgerton, Derby, Basehor-Linwood — and this means Pittsburg stays away from home most of the season.
    “We’re not home a lot,” Rieck said. “There’s just not a lot of wrestling in Southeast Kansas. We have to travel a lot so the kids were a little nervous because this is their first time at home. We’ve got to get that behind us because we are hosting regionals for the first time in the school’s history and that’s their qualifier. They can’t lay an egg because there is no tomorrow.”
    Pittsburg, defending regional champions, hosts a Class 4A regional Feb. 15-16 with Anderson County, Chanute, Coffeyville, Columbus, Fort Scott, Frontenac, Independence, Iola, Labette County, Louisburg, Osawatomie, Paola, Parsons and Prairie View.

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