Lions get in a groove at Louisburg Invitational
When the Lansing High wrestling team returned to the mat Thursday after a three-week winter break, the Lions weren't particularly sharp.
At times their focus seemed to be lacking and their conditioning wasn't up to par. The result was a frustrating split. Class 3A powerhouse Silver Lake made quick work of Lansing, 48-23, before LHS rebounded with a 45-36 victory over Santa Fe Trail.
Fortunately for LHS coach Ron Averill, his wrestlers are quick learners. They returned to the practice room on Friday refocused and ready to work. Practice went so good that the Lions got to go home early.
Saturday's performance at the Louisburg Invitational went even better. In the triple-dual tournament, Lansing clearly was back in top form. It cruised to a 63-18 victory against Louisburg and rolled to a 59-24 win against Tonganoxie before lunch. LHS then won the afternoon dual with Gardner-Edgerton, the No. 7-ranked team in Class 5A, 46-33.
"Honestly, I think our loss to Silver Lake was a motivator for us," Averill said. "We came in and had a real good practice Friday, and I think it helped us focus for Saturday."
The victories against Louisburg and Tonganoxie were to be expected, but the win against Gardner was no guarantee.
Fortunately for Lansing, it had junior Dennis Wood - the No. 2-ranked wrestler in Class 5A at 103 pounds - to start off the showdown with Gardner. He faced Tyler Stokes, the No. 3-ranked wrestler in 5A.
"Dennis went out there and was taking it to him," Averill said. "He just frustrated the kid, and the kid ended up throwing some illegal stuff and was disqualified. Dennis was leading 9-6 when all that happened."
The victory improved Wood's record to 18-0 on the season, but it also set the tone for the rest of the dual.
"That was a big win for us, not only for points, but for morale purposes," Averill said. "We came right back and Scott Keller (119) pinned his guy. Then Cullen Demarest (125) had a pretty competitive match going on there, and then he got a throw and pinned the kid."
Other Lansing winners against Gardner were Kyle Buehler (140), Nick Flynn (145), Brad Zink (152), Sean Gowdy (189) and Tyler Strouhal (285).
Averll said he was particularly pleased with Strouhal's dual-ending victory.
"He came in, locked up with the kid, hit a throw and just took him right to his back and stuck him," Averill said of Strouhal's first-period pin. "It was really pretty to watch. It was impressive for him, and what a ay to end the day. Everybody was hollering and cheering."
Lansing will try to find more cause to celebrate beginning at 12 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday when it makes its inaugural appearance in the Bobcat Classic. A number of state powerhouses, including Class 5A's No. 1-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas Saints, will be there.
Averill said the Lions are excited about the opportunity to compete at the Bobcat Classic because of the tough competition they will face.
"For some of them it's going to be like the first experience at a state tournament, and for others it's hopefully going to be testing the waters for a state championship," Averill said. "Actually, I anticipate the Bobcat very well could be tougher than a state tournament because you bring all of the classes together."