McFarland and Hill earn first varsity pins for Huskies

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The only thing stopping Mackenzie McFarland on Thursday was the whistle. 

The Highland junior took a shot and got a takedown just seconds into the opening period. She was working for a pin of Wapello’s Ethan Walker when the match was stopped for blood. 

“I was trying to do a half nelson, but we were kind of off the mat, so I was trying to pull him back in and then I noticed his nose was bleeding,” McFarland explained. 

After a lengthy delay, McFarland picked right back up where she started, forcing Walker to his back for her first win with the varsity boys team. 

“I was excited that I got it, because it was the first time I ever wrestled a boy,” she said.

McFarland got the pin with 30 seconds left in the first period to even the dual up at 6-6. 

“That was obviously a highlight for me — Mackenzie stepping in for us at 113 and getting a fall,” Highland coach Nick Cole said. “I was really proud of her stepping up and doing some things for the team.”

Senior Jacob Hill was able to wrestle his first varsity match after having to sit out as a transfer.

Hill picked up nearfall points in the first period to take a 4-0 lead, but had to work for his first pin with the Highland varsity. 

“I was just excited to perform in front of the home crowd,” Hill said. “I could tell he was gassed going into the second period. It was a tough ride, and I thought he was stalling a little bit.”

Hill got the reversal in the second period and another takedown in the third to go up 8-0, and pinned Wapello’s Garen Wilkerson with 24 seconds remaining. 

“I kept working my turns, like we work on everyday practice — and I finally got it.”

Hill sat out for 90 days after transferring from Washington.

“I know he was chomping at the bit to get on the wrestling mat,” Cole said. “So that was a good  first match back for him. There's some technical things there that we can continue to build on, but for the most part he did a fine job.”

Carlos Valenzuela also got nearfall points in the first period of his match, and then added six more in the third period of a 13-0 major decision, but was not awarded the fall.

“There are things you can't control, and one of them is an official’s call,” Cole said. “I know he was frustrated, but you're not going to change an official’s mind.”

Highland won four of the nine matches wrestled in the 54-28 loss to Wapello.

While there were some highlights for the Huskies on Thursday, there were also some frustrating moments, especially in a 43-42 loss to Mediapolis. 

“We’ve got to be smart, we’ve got to understand mat awareness, and we’ve got to understand match situations,” Cole said. 

Landon Bell and Isaac Kleese each had an early takedown in their matches against Wapello before giving up first-period pins. In the opening dual with Mediapolis, Jack Peiffer came back from a 4-1 deficit to lead 6-4 before giving up a reversal and a pin with 11 seconds left. 

“We had him,” Cole said. “The kid was broke, he was tired, we had a space on the map, and we had a mental lapse. We let him build us up and he reverses us to our back. We’ve got to be smart there in that situation and give up a point and get back to our feet and finish the match.

“These duals are super important. These guys have got to realize that this is for conference seeding, for sectionals, districts. We’ve just got to be more aware on the mat and continue to learn how to prepare the right way. Every minute, every second counts in a wrestling match, and if you have a mental lapse, it can cost you.”

Kleese, Ayden Havel, and Remington Fields each won a match by fall in the dual with Mediapolis. Peiffer bounced back from the tough loss to defeat Wapello’s Owon Meeker by first-period pin. 

“When Jack knows he can beat somebody, Jack wrestles pretty good. When Jack questions himself, things can go either way,” Cole said.  “Jack is super talented, he just maybe loses track of mat awareness and loses track of match situations. And we’ve just got to get him to complete the puzzle.

"I was happy for him to bounce back. Jack has got to do the right things, and he’ll be OK.”

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