Saturday’s Hillsboro Tiger Invitational featured 11 teams — up from eight a year ago — and 208 matches, more than double a year ago.
But Hillsboro senior Max Sebranek (21–6) went 4–0 and dominated the competition to win the 195-pound title, his second individual championship in as many weeks.
In the scramble style format (wrestling’s version of round round, pool play), Sebranek received a bye, and scored two quick pins before surviving a late throw and escaping with a 7–6 decision over Fennimore’s Logan Sheckles to win his pool.
Then in a rematch from last week’s Lee Griffin Kickapoo Invitational 195-pound championship, Sebranek again pinned Kickapoo/La Farge’s Jeff Milz for the title.
“Max is turning it on late in typical Max style,” said Hillsboro head coach Snapper Verbsky. “He is just a competitor. He doesn’t like to lose and those are his best qualities. He just goes out on the mat and gets the job done. We are looking for some pretty big things from him over the next four or five weeks.”
Aside from Sebranek’s standout individual performance, the young Tigers struggled as a team.
Hillsboro scored 62 team points (Sebranek scored 24 of them) and finished 10th out of 11 teams.
“It’s kind of mixed emotions,” added Verbsky. “We are starting to see that steady improvement on the mat from our young guys, but we also let a few matches get away Saturday. We do have a young team even though we have four seniors, we are inexperienced at the varsity level. We are gaining that experience every day this year.
“We know we are not a powerhouse program right now, but I think Hillsboro wrestling has a bright future. With 24 kids in the junior high program and nine of those will be freshman next year, things are looking up.”
Verbsky mentioned one bright spot: sophomore Nolan Hammer, who went 2–3 Saturday and placed seventh.
“He was one win away from qualifying the second day of Bi-State and that’s a pretty big accomplishment for a sophomore,” said Verbsky. “This weekend he was in a pretty tough weight class and he has been battling the flu for the last week or so. He was borderline if he should have even been wrestling, but he wanted to go and he wrestled pretty tough. We are pleased with the way he has come along.”
Hillsboro hosted New Lisbon on Tuesday and will close out the SBC regular season Tuesday, Jan. 28 at home against Brookwood. The Scenic Bluffs/Ridge/Rivers Conference meet will be held at Brookwood on Feb. 8.