By Michael Smith
The Liberty North Eagles and the Lee’s Summit North Broncos had one more dual before the season is nothing but weekend tournaments starting on Saturday.
It was a good warmup for two evenly matched teams with districts just a little more than two weeks away. The dual came down to the wire with Lee’s Summit North leading 34-29 going into the final match.
Seth Hooper ended up clinching it for his team as he earned a 15-4 major decision against Kaden Sullivan to help the Broncos take a 38-29 victory Wednesday at Liberty North High School.
“I knew coming in it was going to be a competitive dual,” Broncos coach Mick Cronk said. “They had one loss in the (Suburban Gold Conference) all year long to Liberty. We had one loss all year long. We finished 13-1. We knew this was going to be for second place in the conference behind Liberty. This was kind of a fun little matchup.”
Hooper (120) nearly got a pin on a pair of occasions and controlled most of the match. He got out to a 7-2 lead in the first period and never looked back. For him, the strategy going into the match was simple.
“Don’t give up a pin or a tech,” Hooper said. “My chicken wing and armbar (was successful). I held onto those because you can do that without getting called for stalling.”
Hooper getting a big win at the end of the dual is nothing new, according to Cronk.
“He did the same thing in the Blue Springs dual,” Cronk said. “He went out and pinned the kid he faced in the same situation. He took it home for us and closed it. For a freshman to do that in the bright lights, is pretty special.”
Another wrestler coming through for Lee’s Summit North recently is 285-pounder Trevor Taylor. Just two weeks ago, he pulled off an upset victory, pinning Class 3, No. 2-ranked Stevie Gabb in the semifinals of the Suburban Conference Tournament. Against Gabe Conover on Wednesday, he got a pin in 29 seconds.
“I just went out there … heavy hands and stayed aggressive and went through the head and arm,” said the No. 6-ranked Taylor.
Taylor wasn’t the only upper weight wrestler to get a pin for the Broncos. Aaron Barnhill (220), who is ranked No. 3 at 195, went up one weight class to take on Charles Donnici. He even wrestled with a protective mask on and still got a pin in 4:28.
“I pretty much bit through my lip,” Barnhill said of the injury he was protecting. “It is pretty much healed up now. I just don’t want to take the risk of it reopening.
“It changes things a lot. Your vision is a little less than what it normally is. Sometimes, that can make a huge difference.”
Adding to the success of the Broncos upper weights was Zach Coetzee (195). He pinned Daniel Tran in just 1:08.
“”I did a cross grain,” Coetzee said of his pin. “I was pretty nervous before the match, but something clicked once I got out there and just went for it.”
Other winners for the Broncos were Caden Schweitzer (126), who got a pin in 59 seconds; Javi Gutierrez’s (145), who earned a 16-6 major decision against Preston Beran; and Joe Engle (182), who pinned Mason Bowen in 3:39.
Liberty North, despite the loss, still had a strong showing in its final dual of the season.
“Coach Cronk runs a top-notch program,” Liberty North coach Lance Moore said. “They’re a great team. We went out and competed well. There are some that got away from us and we were so close in other situations.”
Dylan Alft (138) avenged a loss earlier in the season to Trey Robinson, getting a 5-4 decision after earning an escape with about a minute left in the third period.
“I was up 4-0 at the Suburban Conference Tournament and he stuck me (and got the pin),” Alft said of his last match against Robinson. We’ve been through it and we’re good friends. It’s a battle to see who’s the best. Every time I wrestle him, it is a great match.”
Others to win for the Eagles were No. 5-ranked Michael Domino (106) by pin in 1:30; James Lovelady (113) in a 10-0 major decision; Joseph Knight (132) by a 10-5 decision; Nathan Sola (152) in a 10-4 decision; Zach DeFreece (160) in a 5-2 decision; and Trevor Thorn (170) by pin in 54 seconds.