Lakota West Wrestling Dual Meet Against East

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Justin Wilson

On Friday, January 21st, large groups of Lakota West and East students were gathered at East for our rivalry rematch basketball. However, at 8940 Union Center Blvd, at seven o’clock, the West and East wrestling teams were preparing themselves for the true war of the night.

Why was this meet so significant?

The Lakota West wrestling team had not seen a win against East in the annual East vs. West Duel meet since 2017. Therefore,  going into the meet with 5 straight losses, they felt the pressure. Also adding to the magnitude of the event was the revealing of Coach Fetzer’s plaque for his 200 wins as the West Wrestling head coach. Considering he attended the meet as the head coach of the EAST wrestling team only added to the competitive atmosphere.

The Matches

Kicking things off for the Firebirds was Michael Schumacher (Fr.) in the 106 weight class. Michael went back and forth with his opponent, prolonging the match into the third period. In the end, he would lose by decision. West 0 East 3. 

Kendra Hiett (Sen.) wrestled for West in the 113 weight class match. Kendra battled it out into the second period where her opponent would, unfortunately, land a pin. West 0 East 9.

Freshman Chase Riggle wrestled in the 120 weight class. This match would quickly turn in favor of East as it would end in the first period with a pin. West 0 East 15.

After the first three matches of the night, the fate of the Firebirds looked dim. Ty Bastin (Jr.) was fully aware of the situation and knew that West needed a victory, not just to get on the scoreboard, but to raise the spirit of his teammates. Though the first period saw very little action, ending with both wrestlers having a score of zero, Ty ramped things up into the second period establishing a 6-0 lead in points. Not wanting to waste any time, Ty opted for a very (and I do mean very) brief break before the third period, which would end in Ty pinning his opponent. West 6 East 15.

The crowd was enthused, the Firebirds now had points to their name! However, the next match would prove to be a difficult one for West. Jeff Schultz (So.) was to wrestle one of the top competitors in the 132 weight class.

 In all honesty seeing the two competitors side by side, taking into account muscle mass, muscle definition, and body shape, I was shocked at the idea that the two opponents could be in the same weight class. However, Jeff’s performance quickly changed my perspective. Despite being pinned in the second period, Jeff wrestled with such tenacity and heart that his teammates were only further inspired to battle out the rest of their matches. West 6 East 21.

Micah Reynolds (So.) is a very energetic and goofy person from what I gathered through previous encounters. But let me be the first to say that Micah Reynolds on and off the wrestling mat are very different people. Emerging from the tunnel with a collected and focused aurora, it was obvious that whatever the score would be after the 138 weight class match, East would remain with 21 points. The match started off even with the first period ending with a tie of 5-5 for the competitors. The second period was all Micah though, ending with a Lakota West pin. West 12 East 21.

Next up to fight in the 144 weight class was Matthew Szczepaniak (Jr.). Matthew’s refined techniques gave him the edge throughout the entirety of his match allowing him to accrue a total of 18 points compared to his opponent’s 5 points. The match ended with Szczepaniak winning by major decision. West 16 East 21.

With a lead now within grasping distance, Josh Allen (Fr.) made his way out to wrestle in the 150 weight class bout. Wasting no time, Allen established dominance early, taking a 7-1 lead heading into the second. This lead then extended to 13-1 lead heading into the third, which eventually became a 17-1 win by technical pin. West 21 East 21.

With West and East tied up, the 157 weight class match had become a crucial point in determining the momentum for the rest of the dual meet. With his younger brother tying the points up, it would now rest upon Will Allen (Jr.) to establish the Firebird’s first lead of the night. Will was, “definitely nervous before the match because it was a big match against the east. [West] lost to [East] last year so there was definitely a lot of pressure.” Warming up, however, Allen was “really hyped up and ready to go. Overall just excited.” Allen was familiar with his opponent and had a strategy laid out in his head, “[his opponent] wrestled low on his feet. So [Will] knew [he] had to shoot a low shot on him to get his legs.” Will’s game plan would prove effective in earning a win by decision and a Firebird lead. West 24 East 21. 

Excited after his friend’s victory, Vaughn Nguyen (Jr.) was amped up and more than ready to increase the lead. However, he learned after stepping onto the mat, he didn’t have an opponent, which confused him because  he, “expected to wrestle. “I shook my opponent’s hand before the match as a sign of good luck.”  So instead of winning by wrestling, Nguyen won the 165 weight class through forfeit, and yes he was disappointed because “[he] had [his] whole family there.” West 30 East 21.

Next up for the Firebirds was Cooper Skelton (Jr.) in the 175 match. As he noted, Cooper planned to “increase our lead to help my team win” this would be done through a strategy of “snap[ping] [his opponent] down and then slap[ping] on a cradle.” Though his strategy did not go as planned Skelton still “rode the guy. I was on top, I rode him out the entire second period and into the third.” Cooper would come out on top (no pun intended) winning by major decision. West 34 East 21. 

Following the 175 weight class, Corey Whatley (Jr.) fought in the 190 match. Whatley tried his hardest to evade his opponent’s pin attempts and was successful until right before the end of the first period East managed a pin. West 34 East 27.

Still fending off for their lead, West entered the second to last match with Tamang “Ben” Ujul representing the Firebirds in the 215 weight class. Ujul was up against another one of East’s better wrestlers, he tried his best but ultimately fell to a pin halfway through the first period. West 34 East 33.

It was time for the final match. The winner of which, would determine the team that would stand victorious. In the hallway minutes before his match Joseph Jackson Jr. (Sen.), “knew [he] would have to win [his] match to win” and that he could only do that if he over came his nerves and wrestled his best. Luckily for Jackson, this was not his first time wrestling his opponent. “I knew my opponent from freshman year. Iactually wrestled him freshman year and I ended up losing to him. I knew that I would definitely have to be aggressive in my match. I would have to work my moves, work my technique, work my takedowns, work my shots, in order to put the match away fast. But I knew I was going to be in for a match that would last till the last period.” The match started with an early takedown for Jackson putting him up two nothing, and after that first takedown Jackson knew, “That I would do whatever it took.” The second period began with Jackson staring on the bottom which would lead to him earning another point for an escape which quickly turned around into another takedown. Jackson now up five to nothing was carrying the energy and spirit of his teammates and the crowd. When the clock struck zero and the match ended, Jackson rose to the crowd like a Roman gladiator embracing the glory. He had just earned his team three points. And a Lakota West Duel meets victory. West 37 East 33. Final.

Jackson made sure to acknowledge the efforts of his teammates and recognize that it was not his win.“My team wrestled their hardest and I know I finished it out, but everybody had a part to play in that meet andI am  appreciative of all of my teammates for their hard work as well.” It was a fantastic finish to the evening and an awesome win for Lakota West wrestling. 

What comes next?

The head coach Adam Meyer is, “excited, the people on the team love to come in and workout and train.” The future looks bright for the Lakota West wrestling team, and I wish them the best of luck for the rest of their season.