A concussion kept Jake Lorenzo out of last fall's football game against Free State High.
"I begged them and begged them to let me play," said Lorenzo, a Lawrence High senior, "but they said no way. Missing that game killed me."
A fractured thumb was supposed to keep Lorenzo out of Tuesday night's wrestling dual with the Firebirds. This time, however, it was Lorenzo who said no way.
"I got that cast cut off yesterday," Lorenzo said following the Lions' 47-27 dual victory in the FSHS gym.
Lorenzo showed no ill effects of the thumb injury, punctuating the Lions' triumph by pinning Steven Oakman in the 285-pound weight class, the last match on the card.
"It's probably still strained," Lawrence coach Mark Dulgarian said of Lorenzo's damaged digit, "but he said he'd been out long enough and he needed to make a run at the state."
Lorenzo hadn't wrestled competitively in 17 days. To stay in shape, he had been running and jumping rope. On the mat, he had tussled a few minutes with Dulgarian during Monday's practice.
"He did what he had to do," Dulgarian said of his heavyweight. "There's no extra time now. You've got to be ready."
How anxious was Lorenzo to wrestle against the Firebirds? So pumped he didn't seek a doctor's OK after the cast was removed.
"I'm still waiting for clearance," the former Lions' football lineman said. "I'm a little stubborn when it comes to Free State."
Kyle McTaggart, who played alongside Lorenzo on the Lions' line, had participated in the Lions' 49-15 football loss to the Firebirds last October. He is also the Lions' 215-pound wrestler and he preceded Lorenzo's pin by posting a fall of his own over Andy Neighbors.
"I love it," McTaggart said about Tuesday's final team score, "especially since we lost to them in football. I wasn't about to lose to Free State again."
McTaggart pinned Neighbors soon after the match was stopped for several minutes after the Lions' wrestler suffered a bloody nose.
"He (Neighbors) punched me," McTaggart said, "and I don't take people punching me in the face lightly. It was payback, I guess."
Tuesday's intra-city dual stayed tight until the upper weight classes. After the Firebirds' Marc Somers pinned Minh Truong in the 145-pound match, Free State led, 21-20.
Then the Lions' Dustin Walthall and Cody Weber posted quick falls in the next two weight classes, and the dual turned into a runaway.
"We had them on the ropes for awhile," Free State coach Paul Lappin said, "but it didn't last long."
Sophmore Julian Kuszmaul gave the Firebirds some hope by pinning Brandon Holland at 189 pounds, but then McTaggart and Lorenzo shut the door in the last two bouts.
"Those last two guys," Lappin said, "are tough wrestlers."
Lawrence High also won the battle of the female wrestlers. The Lions' Emma Mercer and the Firebirds' Taylor Young tangled at 119 pounds with Mercer winning, 16-0.
In the final accounting, Lawrence won eight matches - six by pins, one by decision and one by forfeit. The Firebirds won five - four by pins and one by decision.
Lawrence High, now 9-0 in duals, will travel Saturday to the Atchison Invitational. On the same day, Free State will participate in the Baldwin Invitational.