By Michael Smith
If this week was any indication, there won’t just be one Liberty team to pay close attention to this season.
The Liberty North Eagles came into Thursday’s dual against Suburban Gold Conference foe Raymore-Peculiar with some confidence after defeating Blue Springs 40-33 Tuesday.
The momentum from that big win carried over against the Panthers as the Eagles jumped out to a 33-0 lead and never looked back in a 48-25 win over Ray-Pec at home. The win pushed Liberty North’s dual record to 3-0.
“I am happy with the success that we have had so far,” Liberty North coach Lance Moore said. “That’s a testament to the kids. They are the ones buying in and showing up every single day. They are wrestling really tough right now. We just have to keep it rolling.”
Michael Domino (106), who is ranked No. 5 in the MissouriWrestling.com poll, started things off for his team when he pinned Connor Gaitlin in 3:27.
“I put a half (nelson) in there and put him on his back,” Domino said. “I am feeling pretty good and pretty confident. I just have to keep sharpening the blade and sharpen the axe and work on my craft.”
James Lovelady (113) followed that up with a 10-3 decision over Bryce Gaitlin, and then Drew Perry (120) kept the ball rolling for Liberty North by overcoming a 5-2 deficit to pin Isaac Scott as he got a takedown and pin with 23 seconds left in the match.
“Ray-Pec had a solid kid at 120, but it’s a mental game, you have to keep fighting,” Perry said. “I saw my fireman carry available and I just took my shot. My shots were a little rough, but overall it was a good match.”
At 126, Lucas Titus broke a 2-2 tie when he took down and gooked a cradle for the pin of Brayden Welcher in 3:09. Joseph Knight (132) cinched in a half nelson and turned over Eli Van Trump and pressed down his upper body for a pin in 5:13. Tait Horalek (138) then capped off the big 33-0 run with a front headlock that turned into a pin in 4:51 against Kaden Stephanek.
“I just went out there and wrestled my best for myself and my teammates,” Horalek said. “Our team is on fire so far and I couldn’t ask for a better group of brothers and teammates.
“I was trying to bait him into sitting out so I could get the chin drop and finally he did it. I was able to drop him back and pin him.”
Ray-Pec finally ended Liberty North’s run with three straight wins. Jacob Quest (145) upset Liberty North’s Dylan Alft, ranked No. 5, with a 11-3 major decision victory; Kanen Huff (152) got a quick takedown and cradle in 40 seconds of Nathan Sola; and Patrick Martin avoided a takedown in the final seconds to hand on to a 3-2 decision over Zach DeFreece.
Ray-Pec got two other pins from Coleton McElliott (182, ranked No. 5), who used a barbed wire hold to pin Trenton Byrd in 43 seconds; and Brendon Meyerkorth (285), who was filling in for the injured Tyson King, ranked No. 2, and he got a throw and pin of Ryan Hedgepeth in 26 seconds.
“They came ready to wrestle and we were flat,” Ray-Pec coach Brett Barbarick said. “They were ready to win and they beat us across the mat. They earned it and we weren’t ready to go today.”
Liberty North’s other wins came from Daniel Tran (195), who got a 9-3 win over Jacob Edmondson; Charles Donnici (220), who pinned David Ayers in 3:52; and Trevor Thorn (170), who had a tight battle with Jaylen Nevins to eventually get a pin in 5:45.
“I was tired, so I worked my favorite move on top,” Thorn said. “He was really strong, he was a lot stronger than ,e. I felt like I executed pretty well but I could have hit more shots.”
Oftentimes, Missouri wrestling fans talk about the Liberty Blue Jays a lot as they have been one of the best teams in the entire nation in recent years. But Liberty North could start making a name for itself in the state.
With the way Liberty North has wrestled so far this year, Moore thinks his team could have the best finish it has had in years in the state tournament this season.
“Our goal is to finish in the top 10 at state this year,” Moore said. “We talked about it with the leadership council. Who expects Liberty North to ever be in the top 10 in Class 4? Why not us?”