SMNW’s Habben sets school pins record at Cougar Invitational
Shawnee Mission Northwest wrestler Jerad Habben was hoping for a different place in his final Cougar Invitational on Saturday, but he still made his last match of the day a memorable one.
Habben's dream of a first-place finish in the 132-pound bracket were dashed in the semifinals after losing a 6-2 decision to Junction City's Max Bazan in a clash of two top-five ranked wrestlers, but the SM Northwest senior bounced back to get a win by fall over Blue Valley Northwest's Luke Gawlick. The victory over Gawlick was the 80th pin of Habben's career, which moved him into sole possession of first place in SM Northwest history.
"It feels good to set a record. Records are meant to be broken, but I'm hoping to hit 100 this year," Habben, who surpassed Mario Galvan's mark of 79, said. "I'm hoping that one never gets broken. I'm just trying to leave my mark here."
Habben, who is No. 5 at 132 pounds in the Class 6A Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association rankings, won the third-place match against Fort Osage's AJ Sanchez without even having to take the mat since Sanchez had already reached the maximum number of wrestled matches. The SM Northwest senior previously defeated Sanchez in the quarterfinals after winning by an 11-3 major decision.
The lone loss of the season so far for Habben came against Bazan (No. 4 at 132 pounds). Habben is now 10-1 through two tournaments, and feels good about how things are going.
"I feel strong," Habben said. "It feels different to be at (132 pounds) as opposed to (120), but I feel like I got big enough in the offseason to where I'm a big 132."
Habben was one of four placers for the Cougars, who finished 11th in the team standings with 69 points. Junior Charles Brockmann led the Cougars with a weight class championship at 120 pounds.
Brockmann (No. 4 at 120 pounds) won all three of his matches and is now 9-0 on the season. The SM Northwest 120-pounder won a 9-5 decision over Derby's Kobe Grijalva (No. 3 at 120 pounds) in the title match after winning by fall over Junction City's Zayne Thornton and winning a 7-5 decision over Leavenworth's Hartwell Taylor.
"It's like a really big accomplishment because he was ranked one higher than me in the state," Brockmann said after his win over Grijalva. "I knew this would be a tough match, and I did it this time."
Brockmann never trailed in the title match, and had a few key moments to keep Grijalva from garnering momentum. Grijalva nearly earned a take down in the closing seconds of the first period, but Brockmann was able to scramble to keep the Derby junior from getting two points.
"I knew there wasn't much time left and I just did whatever I could to not let him score," Brockmann said.
After Grijalva tied it at 3-3, Brockmann got a reversal with 30 seconds to go in the second period and led for the rest of the way.
"It gave me a lot more confidence and it just pushed me," Brockmann said.
Sophomore Gabe Arreguin and senior Julian Gutierrez joined Brockmann and Habben in placing. Arreguin went 2-2 with both of his wins coming by fall against SM East's Charlie McCray to place fifth at 106 pounds. Gutierrez posted a 1-3 record to finish sixth at 145 pounds.
The Cougars will be back on the mat for the Johnson County Classic on Friday and Saturday at Blue Valley.
Downey, Thao lead SM North
Shawnee Mission North junior Jeffrey Downey has started to see the fruits of his labor in the Indians' first three competitions of the season.
Downey still has some work to do as he tries to get down to 182 pounds, but he felt good about going 2-2 at 195 pounds at the Cougar Invitational.
"It started back in August when I was at 245. Now I'm down to 193," Downey said. "It's going good so far. It's just a lot of preparation and staying with it."
The Indians placed 14th with Downey setting the tone. Downey won by fall over SM Northwest's Will Heitman in the first round before getting pinned by Free State's Elijah Denmark in the second. The SM North 195-pounder was able to bounce back in his third match to win by a 16-8 major decision over SM East's Peyton Bridge. Downey got a key near fall to take control of the match.
"It felt pretty good, especially with what happened this football season," Downey said. "It just felt good to come back and whoop up on him for a little bit."
Downey's fourth and final match against Leavenworth's Tyler Robinson was tight throughout, but the Pioneers' 195-pounder went on to win by fall midway through the third period.
"Definitely four matches throughout the day is a lot on the body," Downey said. "I've just got to stay mentally focused and I just didn't have it the last match."
Downey won two of the three matches for the Indians. The other win came from heavyweight Aidan Thao, who went 1-2. Thao won by fall by fall over Leavenworth's Bladen Bellar in the consolation semifinals to rebound from a loss to Fort Osage's Ikani Tuiono in the semifinals. Thao settled for fourth place after getting pinned by Derby's Ronnie Washington.
The Indians were without two of their top wrestlers on Saturday in Tanner Willmon and Alonso Salgado, who were taking the ACT, but they helped the Indians go 3-0 in their duals at St. Pius on Tuesday. North defeated St. Pius, Center and Schlagle.
"We're looking pretty good," Downey said. "We've got a lot of newcomers that are showing out for us and our old-timers are doing good, too. It's great to see us having a good season so far."
The Indians will join the Cougars at the Johnson County Classic.
Washburn Rural won the Cougar Invitational with 238 points.
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