Lawrence High wrestling coach Pat Naughton always has been a big fan of duals and has tried to stress their importance to his team.
Wednesday night, in a 44-24 rout of Leavenworth, the Lions showed they’ve been paying attention to their coach.
A big reason for Naughton’s love of the head-to-head format comes from the fact that his high school — Dowling Catholic High in Des Moines, Iowa — owns the state’s two longest streaks of consecutive victories in dual matches. Naughton’s Maroons — the mascot, not the crayon — won 82 in a row from 1973-86 and trumped that with a streak of 136 in a row from 1987-95.
Though they’d love to match such a streak, Naughton’s current crop of wrestlers explained the other reason for his love of duals after knocking off the Pioneers.
“I think a dual really adds to the team essence of the sport,” said LHS senior Dustin Walthall, who won by a first-period pin in the 171-pound match. “At tournaments, there’s a lot of sitting around and focusing on your individual matches. But when you come to a dual, every match matters, and you get fired up for every one of them.”
Wednesday, the Lions jumped to an 18-0 lead with three victories in the first three matches. The first two — forfeit wins for freshman Hunter Haralson and sophomore Jacob Van Feldt — came because Leavenworth was unable to send a wrestler to the mat in the 112- and 119-pound weight classes. The next came in the 125-pound match, where junior Caleb Torneden pinned Leavenworth’s Joe McClung with three seconds remaining in the first period.
Leavenworth picked up nine points in the next two matches, but the Lions answered with a streak of five straight victories to build a commanding 44-9 lead.
Junior Levi Flohrschutz won by major decision (15-0) at 140 pounds, senior Dom Reiske won his second straight match after returning from injury at 145 pounds, and junior Cameron Magadeleno picked up a pin at the 1:20 mark of the first period at 152 pounds.
Next up was freshman Spencer Wilson at 160. Wilson got the call Wednesday because sophomore Reece Wright-Conklin was out due to an injury. Wright-Conklin expects to return this weekend, but Wilson’s effort showed that there’s no need to hurry. In what might have been the match of the night, Wilson held off Leavenworth’s Byron Hadfield, 3-1, to push the Lawrence High lead to 38-9.
“I thought this dual was going to be a lot closer than it was,” Flohrschutz said. “We had some injuries, and we were open in a couple of weight classes, but we had a bunch of young guys step up and wrestle well.”
Walthall followed Wilson with a victory of his own, before Leavenworth won the last three matches (LHS was open at 285) to set the final margin at 44-24.
“It was a good night for us,” Naughton said. “I really tried to stress to our guys to pick up the intensity and kick it up a notch because if we didn’t, we could’ve lost this dual. And we do not lose duals. Period.”
LHS will travel to the Blue Valley Northwest tournament Friday and Saturday before returning home for another dual Tuesday against Free State High.