It wasn’t the home opener the Barton men’s wrestling team was hoping for.
It was the inaugural home match of the inaugural season of wrestling for Barton. What it turned out to be was a good gauge for where the Cougars want to be.
Nationally ranked Northeastern Oklahoma came to the Barton Gym and put a whipping on the Cougars. The No.14 ranked Norsemen won 9 of the 10 matches on the way to a 45-3 dual win over the Cougars.
NEO is one of the top programs in the NJCAA. The Norseman finished fifth in the nation last season and won the NJCAA title two years ago. So the task was going to be a tough one from the first whistle.
The Norsemen won the first three matches by pins. Will Bardezbain was pinned at 125 by Logan Terrill in the final 11 seconds. Caysen Smith battled close with Curtis Burnett at 133 before getting pinned in the final period as well. Jaden McRoberts was pinned in the opening period by Mitchell Sellers at 141.
The Cougars won their first and only match of the night at 149. Manhattan freshman Zack Vesta defeated Dustin Hayden 7-2. For Vesta he improved to 4-1 this season in duals. Vesta grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first period and keep extending it as high as six before getting the 5-point win.
Kade Sander has been a bright spot as well for Barton this season. The Great Bend High product was 4-0 in duals but had his hands full at 157 against Kristian Holquin-Mendez. Mendez placed third in the nation last season for NEO. Sander was close the whole match. He trailed 2-1 after the first period and 4-2 after the second. He cut it to 4-3 early in the third but would get no closer in a 7-3 loss.
Those two matches with Vesta and Sander would be the highlights for Barton.
Sean Taborsky lost by technical fall at 165 by a 20-4 score. Devon Baker lost a 10-2 major decision battle at 174.
Barton’s Tim Johnson put up a good battle at 184. The freshman from North Carolina trailed 1-0 after the first period and just 3-2 heading into the final period against Jacob Hill. But Hill prevailed with a 7-2 win.
The nights final two matches were quick as Zac Strother was pinned at 197 in the first period and Justin Scarbro was pinned in the first period as well at 285.
The Cougars are back in action at the Bob Smith Open at Fort Hays Sunday.