After Dustyn Hangen suffered a wrist injury toward the end of Winchester High School’s football season, the Falcon quarterback was told many times he wouldn’t wrestle.
After being cleared just three days before the Falcons’ opening tournament, Hangen has come a long way.
On Thursday, Hangen improved to 12-0 this season, pinning Union County’s Devin Strait in just a minute and clinching a 54-30 Winchester victory over Tri-Eastern Conference foe Union County.
Hangen, Winchester’s 195-pounder, made the score 42-30 with two matches to go, before Jacob Sofronko tallied six points via forfeit at 220 and heavyweight Logan Williams applied the finishing touches with a pin after 4:33.
“They told me when I first went to the hospital that I wouldn’t wrestle at all this season,” Hangen said. “I went from not being able to wrestle at all this season to a little bit sooner and a little bit sooner and a little bit sooner.
“I ended up getting cleared three days before our first meet … went 5-0, which is really good for coming off a broken wrist.”
Hangen came out quickly Thursday, taking a 4-0 lead before putting Strait on his back.
“He came out really strong, just pushing and pulling. I don’t like to wrestle like that,” Hangen said. “When I wrestle, I like to wrestle really methodically, try and do things the way that I want to control the match. I don’t like getting pushed and shoved like that, so I try to keep away from it. Then as soon as I got my opportunity, I took it and ran a move that I’ve been working on at practice for a while and used it to pin him.”
Hangen was one of five Falcons to win head-to-head matches Thursday.
Lance Frantz (106) and Jared Hangen (113) picked up points via forfeit and the Falcons led 12-0 before a single match was contested.
Union County quickly responded, though.
Daniel McClurg (120) and Cole Bowers (126) earned back-to-back pins, tying the match at 12, before Winchester’s Vince Prescott earned a pin at 132, giving the Falcons an 18-12 lead.
Union County benefited from back-to-back forfeits at 138 and 145, leading 24-18, before Thomas Underwood (152) and Nate Klingel (160) gave Winchester the lead, 30-24.
Emilio Aquino-Morales took care of Winchester’s Kolt Halcomb at 170, giving the Patriots one last shot, but Grant Gough (182) earned a forfeit before Dustyn Hangen’s win clinched the match.
Aquino-Morales moved in from Wisconsin and has quickly been an impact wrestler for the Patriots.
He is 5-2 on the young season. The Patriots have had limited mat time because of snow.
“These last few weeks haven’t been so good because of weight-cutting,” Aquino-Morales said. “So I came in just basically hydrated 100 percent and wanted to wrestle, get mat time.”
Winchester has won four TEC titles since 2008, including last season’s.
“I thought we wrestled pretty well overall,” Winchester coach Brian Feltis said. “There’s still some things we’re trying to clean up. We’re still a little sloppy from our feet, which is where we spend most of our time, so we should be the cleanest there. We weren’t tonight, so we have some things we’re going to work on tomorrow and continue to improve during the season.
“All-in-all, I thought the kids wrestled real well outside of a couple matches. I think we could’ve performed a little bit better in at least a couple of those matches.”
Union County won the TEC tournament in 2010 and 2012 and was second last season.
“I saw improvement from my boys today,” Union County coach Dan Briggs said. “They wrestled much better tonight than they did against East Central last week. We’ve missed so many meets this year that we actually are behind, but I did see growth. I saw some better stuff, and for the most part, I’m pleased.
“My younger guys still have a lot to learn. They’re just being bullied by older, stronger kids. So I think we’re better wrestlers, (but) we just need to make sure we finish our moves on the mat.”