Saxons score third Lamb trophy in four seasons
Saxon senior Shane Dillon looks forward to this first tournament of January every year. The results show it.
Dillon won a flight championship at the Hastings varsity wrestling team's annual LH Lamb Invitational for the third time Saturday, pinning Ionia's Blake Ledesma midway through the second period of their 112-pound championship match.
He was one of eight Hastings wrestlers to reach the championship finals, and one of three individual champions for the Saxons. Hastings won the tournament for the third time in four years by outscoring runner-up Caledonia (last year's champion) 184.5 to 173.5 Saturday.
The Saxon varsity team got individual championships from sophomore Mason Denton at 130 pounds, freshman Zach Chipman at 103 pounds too.
Dillon scored a 21-4 technical fall in his semifinal match with Delton Kellogg's Hunter Antolovich, and then worked out from under Ledesma in the second period of their championship match before catching the Bulldog 112-pounder and putting him on his back.
“It was a guillotine. I put (Ledesma's arm) over my head and you lock up there,” Dillon said. “It is a classic move. I don't think anyone ever really does that anymore.”
Dillon said it was a stressful lead-up to the tournament. Not only was his sophomore teammate Dillon Neal (wrestling for the 'B' team) in his weight class but also his cousin Logan White from Caledonia. Ledesma pinned White in the closing seconds of the first period of their opening round match, so the cousins never got the chance to meet up.
Dillon earned a first-period take down in his championship match, but saw Ledesma pull even with an early reversal in the second period. Dillon said whenever he gets the chance at practice he has been working on getting off the bottom, and that work paid off Saturday.
“Usually I struggle on the bottom. It has always been a focus just to do one quick burst and try to kind of spin out of it and that is exactly what I did and it actually worked,” Dillon said.
After not winning a tournament last season, other than their district tournament at the end of the year, the Saxons have now won three tournaments this season.
In all, the Saxon varsity team had 11 medalists Saturday with another three 'B' team wrestlers finishing on the podium as well. Robby Slaughter (140 pounds), Gabe Trick (145), Payton Miller (160), Tyler Dull (171) and Jon Giron (119) were runners-up at their weight class for Hastings.
Delton Kellogg got three runner-up finishes on the day, from Caden Ferris at 215 pounds, Hunter Belew at 189 and Gage Vincent at 103 pounds. The Panthers were fourth in the team standings with 112 points behind Petoskey's total of 117 points. East Grand Rapids placed fifth with 105 points and the Pioneers' 215-pound champion John Shelton was named the tournament's most outstanding wrestler in what was an extremely tough weight class.
The Hastings varsity team had Matthew Thompson third at 135 pounds, Elias Sanchez fourth at 189, and Jackson DuBois third at 285.
“Winning tournaments this year it has been a big plus, a big improvement. We have a bunch of young guys that are helping us out. They come in and they have to be mature now,” Hastings head coach Darrell Slaughter said.
“We're going to keep on doing what we're doing. It is working for us now, just try and get things ready for the end of the year,” he added.
The Saxon 'B' team that placed eighth in the nine-team standings had Tanner Rairigh (130), Gili Perez (152) and Dillon Neal (112) all place fourth. The nine teams included the Saxon 'B' team and an “All-Star” team made up up teams' extra wrestlers.
“We have come a long way since the first match, especially the freshmen,” Dillon said. “We have a lot of freshmen this year and they're looking pretty good. I am really happy with this team so far.”
One of those freshmen, Chipman, took his championship Saturday by scoring an 11-5 win over Delton Kellogg's Vincent in the 103-pound championship match. Chipman also pinned Delton Kellogg's Joelle White, wrestling for the All-Star team, in the semifinals.
Denton had three pins on the day in winning the 130-pound championship for Hastings. He stuck Ionia's Ethan Bowen 1:29 into their championship match after pinning Delton Kellogg's Chase Nevins and Petoskey's (All-Star) Mark Ledig to open the day.
Ionia was sixth in the final team standings with 99 points, ahead of East Lansing 45, Hastings 'B' 28 and the All-Star Team 17.
Delton Kellogg also had Charlie Zurhorst third at 112 pounds, Bow Arms fourth at 135 pounds, White fourth at 103 pounds and Jayden Orns fourth at 125 pounds. White was earning points for the All-Star team.
Caledonia had more individual champions than any other team at the tournament, four, and was wrestling a day after opening the OK Red Conference season with wins over Hudsonville and West Ottawa. The Fighting Scots got individual titles from Owen Norman at 135 pounds, Jonah Siekman at 140, Rick Pizzala at 152 pounds and Bryce Briggs at 189.