Rematch possible at Baldwin Invite.
When the Lansing High wrestling team departs early Saturday morning for the Baldwin Invitational, all of the Lions will eagerly await their opportunity to prove themselves against opponents from nationally ranked Oak Park (Mo.) High.
Well, almost all of the Lions.
Nick Flynn's mind likely will be focused on somebody else.
Don't get him wrong. Flynn, a LHS senior, certainly wants to face an opponent from Oak Park. He always welcomes a challenge. It's just that he wants to avenge a loss, and Flynn dropped just his second match of the season on Saturday at the Holton Invitational when Andover Central's Chris Watson edged him in the 152-pound finals by a 7-5 score.
Watson is ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 4A. Flynn is ranked No. 2 in Class 5A.
"We're hoping Nick and Watson will match up down here at the Baldwin Tournament this weekend," LHS coach Ron Averill said. "We're hoping that'll be a matchup and we'll get a chance to get a little revenge."
Flynn's loss to Watson made him one of four Lions who earned second-place finishes at Holton. Teammates Spencer Blew (125 pounds), Tyler Baughman (145 pounds) and Tyler Strouhal (215 pounds) also earned runner-up status.
As a team, LHS placed third in the 17-team event with 167, one point behind second-place Pratt and 14 points behind tournament champion Tonganoxie.
Averill noted that the competition was extremely heated, however, and pointed out that fourth-place Osawatomie had 163.5 points and fifth-place Andover Central had 149.
"We were one point out of second, and we had other teams knocking on our door," he said.
Dillon Scanlon placed third at 130 pounds, Brett Brown was fourth at 103, Tyler Terron (140) and Zach Hammer (285) earned fifth-place finishes, and Cory Andrews (160) and Nathan Wessel (171) finished sixth.
Averill was particularly pleased with Andrews' showing. The freshman has been Lansing's JV wrestler at 152 pounds this season, but he stepped into the varsity lineup at the last minute when usual 160-pounder Grant Hinckley came down with an illness on Friday.
"He stepped in and up," Averill noted of the rise in weight class. "He filled in at varsity 160 and went 3-2 for the day, and he didn't get to wrestle the fifth-place match because they had a five-match limit."
In addition to Andrews, Averill also had high praise for Terron. The freshman turned in a dynamite victory on Wednesday, Jan. 16, during the Lions' home triangular when he erased a 9-2 deficit for an overtime victory, and he carried the momentum of that victory into the Holton tournament. He went 3-2 in a difficult weight class and won some impressive matches, Averill said.
"Several of his wins were against very strong opponents, and in his win over Pleasant Ridge he tech-falled the kid; the kid didn't even score a point," Averill said. "That was very encouraging the way he competed there."
As tough as the competition was at Holton, the Lions know it will be even more challenging at Baldwin. In addition to Tonganoxie and Andover Central being there, Baldwin is always loaded. Plus, Oak Park brings a stable of nationally ranked wrestlers in almost every weight class, and the Northmen routinely win the tournament title.
Averill said the Lions welcome the competition, and he said it simply provides another opportunity to prepare for the postseason.
"We have little things we need to clean up on position and control, and we're just going to keep chipping away a little at a time," he said. "We want to see consistent improvement on those skills, and that doesn't always translate into a win, but the whole goal is to see it really kick in at regionals and state."