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Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012

Olathe North freshman wrestler gains confidence

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By TOD PALMER

todpalmer@theolathenews.com

One and only one Olathe wrestler battled his way to a medal last Saturday at Basehor-Linwood’s Bobcat Classic, which consistently rates among the largest and toughest regular-season events in the Kansas wrestling community.

Many wrestlers and coaches will tell you the Bobcat Classic is more competitive and presents a much bigger challenge than the state tournaments will a month from now.

That bodes extremely well for Olathe North freshman Nick Haug, who went 5-2 and finished fourth in the 113-pound weight class.

Haug’s only losses came against St. James Academy freshman Zak Hensley, who topped the Eagles’ brawler in the quarterfinals and also won a rematch in the third-place bout.

“It feels good to be able to place here,” Haug said. “I was definitely nervous. I watched my brother (Rory), who’s a senior, come here as a freshman and he didn’t even place, so I was extremely nervous.”

Exiting the tourney, however, Haug, 22-6, takes with him a boost of confidence.

“I’m happy, because it’s my toughest tournament all year and I actually placed higher here than at some other tourneys I have wrestled,” Haug said.

Haug opened with a technical fall against Piper junior Ethan Bach and followed with a 7-0 decision versus Pittsburg junior Jeremiah Jones before the first loss to Hensley.

Dropping to the back side, Haug rattled off three straight wins – 5-3 against Junction City freshman Jake Bazan, 8-2 in a rematch with Jones and by fall against Oak Park junior Sam Seidel – en route to the consolation final.

“I got better and a lot smarter in terms of what to do and what not to do out there on the mat,” Haug said. “I learned more about what position not to take. I’m definitely a smarter wrestler and won’t take as many stupid shots after this weekend.

“Wrestling against so many good competitors at a tournament like this, you learn how to keep your composure and wrestle really smart. That’s the only way to advance.”

Olathe South’s top performer was senior Tracy Copen, who made his season debut at 132 pounds.

Despite a first-round loss, Copen claimed three straight wins on the consolation side of the bracket and came within a match of reaching the medal round for the Falcons.

Fellow South senior Nick Bauerly went 2-2 at 138 pounds.

North senior Michael Wurts also went 2-2 at 145 pounds and now stands 17-5 this season.

At 220 pounds, Falcons senior Spencer Sterling and Eagles junior Brett Cockerham each came within a win of reaching the medal matches as did North junior heavyweight Dakota Cohu.

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