FHSU places five at Bob Smith Open


Tiger Media Network

The Fort Hays State University men’s wrestling team hosted the annual Bob Smith Open on Saturday, welcoming over 300 wrestlers to Gross Memorial Coliseum. For the Tigers, this was a chance to see tough competition. 

“We had a great competition here where we could work on ourselves and what we got, and then there were matches where we sweated it out and really had to fight,” Tony Caldwell said. “It was tough, but it was good to try new things and then to be able to be tested mentally in those later matches.”

The Tigers placed five of their 10 competitors on the day. Drew Bell (141 pounds) and Riah Ostrander (285 pounds) earned bronze medals, while Caldwell (285 pounds) finished in fourth. Tereus Henry (197 pounds) and Connor Padgett (174 pounds) finished in fifth place. Fort Hays did not have a champion in their tournament for the first time since 2017. 

“We had an up and down day, we had guys get hot that have not been hot this season and we had our guys that have been hot get cold today,” FHSU Head Coach Erik Wince said. 

Of their five placers, the highest was third for two Tigers. Redshirt freshman Drew Bell was one of the third-place finishers, with a record of 5-1. 

Bell, a redshirt freshman from Hoxie, defeated Mitchell Borynack of Oklahoma State in his initial match and won by no contest in the third-place match to conclude his day.

Ostrander and Caldwell found themselves facing off in the third-place match, where Ostrander, who wrestled unattached, defeated Caldwell by a 4-2 decision. Ostrander defeated two D1 wrestlers in Cannon Kelly (Colorado State) and Myles Johnson (Air Force) before falling to Jake Boley (Nebraska-Kearney). Boley was the tournament champion at 285 pounds.  

In Caldwell’s first match of the day, he took on Hays High product Gavin Nutting (Cloud Community College) before falling to Boley. 

Caldwell won the next three matches before falling to Ostrander. 

Padgett won three matches before losing to Josh Palacio (Air Force). Padgett finished the day with a double forfeit against Aj Heeg (Oklahoma State).

Henry’s day started with three straight wins before losing to Ben Gould (CSU- Pueblo) and then Brian Burburjia (Air Force) before a no-contest from Ryan Nichols. 

For Nutting, a ‘22 Hays High School graduate, the Bob Smith was an important event on the calendar. 

“The dream of every JUCO wrestler is to move on to the next level, and so for this tournament, you are able to show coaches that you can compete against D1 and D2 guys,” Nutting said. “Going up against Tony (Caldwell), it was big for me to keep it close, and it was till the very last minute after one final takedown. Takedowns are worth three and Caldwell won 4-2.”

Nutting spoke about what it is like being back home and being a JUCO wrestler. 

“Every kid from Hays wants to compete at Fort Hays since it’s their hometown, and so coming back, it means a lot when I get to come back here and compete. I know a lot of people everywhere around the stadium,” Nutting said. “Family is one of the most important things to me, I have a supportive family here to come to watch me right now because we wrestle almost year-round, so you barely get to see your extended family but I am glad I get to see them today.” 

FHSU will be in action one more time in 2023 at the Midwest Duals December 16-17 in Indianapolis.