Eudora Lawrence High sophomore Reece Wright-Conklin wasn’t worried when he was just inches away from being pinned by Gardner-Edgerton’s Todd Curtis during the 160-pound championship match Saturday at the Eudora Tournament of Champions.
“I usually can get out of anything,” Conklin said. “So I wasn't too worried about it.”
While there were a few gasps from the crowd, as Conklin was inches away from losing his first match of the year, Conklin quickly rolled his hips and broke free. Conklin then scored two more points in the final minute to win his match, 8-5, and earn a first-place medal.
“I knew that once I got up, I had to get out fast,” Conklin said. “Otherwise I would have just screwed up big-time being up 5-0 and then end up losing. I wasn't going out like that.”
LHS coach Patrick Naughton also didn’t have any doubts his sophomore would get out of the jam.
“Reece has incredible hips,” Naughton said. “And I’ve seen him get out of a lot of tight situations, and I’ve also seen him put people in tight situations. His hips are amazing. They're just unbelievable.”
Conklin took a 5-0 lead into the third and final round, after scoring two points in the first and three more in the second.
“At first, I was just trying to keep him guessing, trying not to let him know where I was going,” Conklin said. “Then pop him high and shoot real low real quick. Then a fake here and a fake there and go. I was just trying to set him up and work different moves so he didn’t know what I was doing. And I was just trying to be smart about it and not do anything crazy.”
Conklin went 7-0 at the two-day tournament and is now 11-0 on the season. While Conklin placed first at the tourney, six other LHS wrestlers placed in the top eight of their respective weight classes.
Dustin Walthall placed second (171), Ben Seybert fourth (189), Levi Flohrschutz fifth (140), Chris Lane fifth (135), Hunter Haralson fourth (112) and Braxton Vardys eighth (145). The group helped LHS snag a fifth-place finish with 175 points. LHS also did so without fielding a full squad.
Baldwin’s Bryce Shoemaker (103) and Josh Hanson (135) won their respective weight classes. Eudora had six wrestlers place in the top eight. Boomer Mays placed third in the 215-pound weight class, Caleb Clayton-Molby fifth (189), Tyler Crowe sixth (152), Dalton Hladky seventh (140), Thomas McLees eighth (119) and Grady Salzman eighth (103). De Soto had three wrestlers place in the top eight. Brandon Vukas finished fourth (171), and Donny Parr (189) and Zack Atchison (145) placed seventh.
Lansing won the tournament with 244 points, Baldwin finished ninth with 147, Eudora 13th with 125.5 points, Tonganoxie placed 20th with 74.5 and De Soto finished 21st.