By EARL WATT
• Daily Leader
After placing eighth out of 11 teams prior to the final tow matches in each weight class, the Liberal Redskins had a strong showing in the finals and consolation, earning a fourth place finish at the Southwest Classic Saturday at the Big House.
“I was glad we got fourth,” Liberal coach Mike Pewthers said. “We were a match or two away from third, and two or three from second. We need to win those close matches. Part of that will be getting in better condition. By the end of the year we will get that done and place higher in tournaments.”
The lone champion for the Redskins was Justin McPhail who earned the title in the 189-pound weight class.
“He had a couple of really tough kids in his weight,” Pewthers said. “He did a great job to come out on top.”
At 119 pounds, Adrian Salas advanced to the finals against Ulysses’ Robbie Hines, and after holding a lead in the third period was reversed and could not make up the point before the final second ticked off the clock.
“Adrian wrestled well all weekend,” Pewthers said. “In the championship match, the kid wrestled a little different style. We have to work on some things so he can beat a kid who wrestles that style. The match was close. Adrian could have came through and won it. By the end of the year we will get him where he can beat that wrestling style.”
Adebayo Braimah dropped two matches to finish fourth, but both losses came to Elkhart’s Seth Imam.
“It was a style issue,” Pewthers said. “We have a few things we have to work on.”
In the 140-pound weight class, Isaac Gallegos just missed a trip to the finals with a loss to eventual champions Derek Schnittker from Hugoton. Gallegos rebounded by pinning Pratt’s Adam Swinford for third.
“Isaac Gallegos did as well as he could have done,” Pewthers said. “He did a great job in his match for third.”
Carlos Rodriguez advanced to the finals in the 160-pound weight class, but he dropped a decision in a c lose match with Holcomb’s Levi Koehn.
“Carlos could have been the champion,” Pewthers said. “We have to get him over the hump and figure out when things are available on takedowns.”
After dropping his first match of the tournament, Liberal’s Akele Powdrill battled all the way through the consolation bracket to earn third place when he pinned Colby’s Zell Bieberle.
“Powdrill wrestled as good as I thought he could,” Pewthers said. “His match for third and fourth was as good as he wrestled all year.”
Overall, Pewthers said the tournament gave his athletes a chance to face some competition that will make them better at future wrestling events.
“If all our kids would have won, then it would have been a confidence builder but not the challenge they needed at this point in the season,” Pewthers said. “You want everyone to get first, but if they aren’t where they need to be, they need to realize they have some work to do. This gives them a chance to see where they need to be.”
Colby won the team title with 189 points, Pratt came in second with 128, Goodland took third with 125, Liberal was fourth with 116, Ulysses came in fifth with 114, Hays took sixth with 104, Tascosa was seventh with 93, Hugoton took eighth with 81, Putnam City West was ninth with 51, Holcomb took 10th with 39, and Elkhart was 11th with 29.
The Redskins will host Ulysses Tuesday and will employ the skills they learned at the Classic
“It will be tough,” Pewthers said. “We will have to wrestle well to beat them. It should be exciting, especially toward the end of the dual.”