Returning Lakota West High School state qualifier Drew Fenton admits he did not envision the outcome shaking out the way it did in Thursday night’s Battle of Lakota at Lakota East.
Sure, Fenton thought the Firebirds would win for the second year in a row, but not by the comparatively comfortable margin of 43-22.
“Last year, it was all Logan Brown,” Fenton said of the dual that came down to Brown’s win in the finale. “It was a nail-biter. This year, we had some guys pull out some big wins. I didn’t see it coming. I thought we would win, but not by that much.”
Fenton had a big hand in helping West clinch the dual.
Finally getting down to 195 for the first time this season, Fenton recorded seven takedowns in a 17-7 win over returning district qualifier Oseji Azuka to give the Firebirds a 28-6 lead.
“It was a trip (getting down to weight). I had to deal with a concussion and a suppressed lung and couldn’t get down to weight earlier. It was a good battle, but I’m glad I’m here,” Fenton said. “Being down to weight, I feel a lot faster. We went overtime last year and I think getting that weight off showed.”
Fenton’s win was part of a 12-0 run for the Firebirds that began when Sebastian Carrico was able to secure a late takedown to get the bonus point with a 13-5 major decision.
Mason Quinn took a 16-3 major before Fenton took the mat.
“If you looked at it on paper, it could be close or it could be a wide decision,” West coach Tony Braberry said. “The big thing that we talked to the kids about all week was bonus points. We lost to Fairfield on bonus points and we needed to change that. We got some spirit and things started falling our way.”
DeAnte Evans gave Lakota East a 3-0 lead with a 3-0 win over Brown to open the dual at 132, but West got a forfeit to Andrew Acuna and Andy Cress followed with a 14-4 win after a 10-point third period.
The biggest boost for West came at 152 when Max Pflaumer turned a 4-1 deficit to Nicholas Frank into a fall in 3:49 to give West a 16-3 lead.
“That match was pivotal,” East coach Jim Lehman said. “I believe we are a major or pin better than him, but for some reason we got deflated there. You take the two forfeits and that match and it is a 10- to 12-point swing in the score. We had three others I thought would win and they lost — those bonus points will kill you.”
Returning district qualifier Ryan Durham got East back on track with a pin in 4:22 at 220, but West answered with a 7-1 decision by Tim Tanner-Blair at 285 to seal the deal.
“We have some experienced kids and some inexperienced guys learning their way,” Lehman said. “I know we will probably be a better tournament team this year than dual team because we have some heavy hitters, but we need to do a better job and keep working and progressing.”
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