The Lafayette Lancers recently held court on center stage – literally.
The wrestling Lancers competed in a Suburban West Conference dual against visiting Eureka – the Lafayette stage. The Lancers won the match 42-17 and captured 10 of the 14 matches.
“It was the first time we have ever done this,” Lafayette coach Jonathan Sumner said. “It was the most electrifying high school sports atmosphere I have ever seen. It was such a great experience for our kids and our community.
“When it was all said and done, every kid asked me when we were doing it again. They enjoyed every second of it.”
Lafayette then took to the road and competed last Saturday in the Capital City Invitational in Jefferson City.
Lafayette won, upsettiung No. 1-ranked Park Hill Trojans. Lafayette is ranked No. 3.
The Lancers were carried to the championship on the backs of six finalists and two champions. Twin brothers Jayden and Jaylen Carson both won titles for Lafayette. Anthony Michaels and Cameron Wegener finished second, while Austin Wegener and Cortez Woods both finished in third place.
The Lancers scored 304.5 points to win.
The tough match against Eureka helped Lafayette get ready for the big tournament in Jefferson City.
“Eureka has a great tradition and puts out a competitive team every year,” Sumner said. “This dual was a step in the right direction to earn a conference title. Since Eureka beat Seckman, and Seckman beat us and we beat Eureka, it will all depend on how we finish out the year in conference duals.
“We have won the last three, so if we are able to win this year that would make four [conference championships] in a row.”
Several Lancers looked good in the match against Eureka.
“I am very proud of the way our kids wrestled,” Sumner said. “We won a lot of close matches in a great atmosphere. Jaylen Carson bumped up a weight in the dual and redeemed a loss from this past weekend over one of their best wrestlers, Ryan Lester, with a reversal in the last second of the match to win 4-3.”
Sumner said the Lancers did more than wrestle at that event.
“We celebrated our teachers and all the great things they do at our annual Teacher Appreciation Night,” Sumner said. “Each varsity wrestler chose a favorite teacher to honor that night.”
Sumner also was excited about the Lancers’ victory in Jefferson City’s tournament.
“This is first time since this staff has been here that we have been able to win the Capital City tournament, so we are very proud of our kids and the way they competed,” Sumner said. “We were a little short-handed and so was Park Hill, but any time you knock off the nationally ranked as well as No. 1-ranked team in the state you have to enjoy the moment.
“We are proud of our kids and what they accomplished last weekend, but this is just a stepping stone on our journey. These kids are hungry for more. ”
The Carson twins both won titles. Sumner was impressed by them.
“Jayden rolled through the 113-pound bracket pinning and teching everyone in the tournament,” Sumner said. “Jaylen did the same at 120 pinning his way through the tournament as well. They both wrestled outstanding, but have bigger goals on their agendas this year.”
Michaels, Wegener, Woods and Gabe Frankenberg all came in second in their weight classes.
“Anthony Michaels finished second at 152, which was arguably the toughest weight class there,” Sumner said. “He knocked off multiple state ranked kids on his way to the finals. In the finals, he did not wrestle his best, but he just recently returned from an injury, and his lungs aren’t all there yet. We know Anthony will only get better and work hard as he chases a state title this year.
“Cameron Wegener knocked off a returning state finalist from Jeff City in pool play on Friday and then lost 1-0 in ultimate tiebreaker in the finals. There was no score the whole match and it came down to a coin flip, which we lost, and they rode us out to win.”
Sumner liked how Woods and freshman Frankenberg competed.
“Cortez Woods finished second at 220, losing in the finals to a kid he beat the day before,” Sumner said. “He got caught in the first period and was down 4-0, the kid he was wrestling sat on that lead to hold off a close victory. Cortez knows what he needs to do better and showed that last night as he pinned a returning state medalist from Lindbergh in our dual.
“Gabe Frankenberger also finished second at 132, pinning a returning state medalist in the semi finals and losing to a two-time state medalist in the finals.”
Several other Lancers also did well in the tournament.
“Austin Wegener finished third at 182, Austin wrestled a good overall tournament, but has some areas we are working on this week,” Sumner said. “We are proud of him and the way he competed. Jonah Robinson also finished in third at 170, wrestling an overall outstanding tournament.
“Jalin Reese finished fourth at 106 as well as senior Jake Malven, who came in fourth at 160. Desean Reese also came in fifth at 126.”
The end resulted in the Lancers winning the tournament.
“We have never won this tournament before, but have come in second many times, so it was nice to walk away with a team victory,” Sumner said.
Lafayette will compete in the two-day Winnetonka Invitational beginning Friday, Jan. 19. Teams competing in the two-day tournament are Blue Springs, Central St. Joseph, Eureka, Francis Howell Central, Kearney, Lafayette, Liberty, Nixa, North Kansas City, Oak Park, Odessa, Park Hill South, Park Hill, Ray-Pec, Rockhurst, Seckman, Staley, Timberland, Troy and Winnetonka.
“This is arguably one of the toughest tournaments in the state of Missouri,” Sumner said. “We will see some great competition and some of the toughest teams around. We want our kids to compete each match and wrestle hard.”
The following week Lafayette will compete in the Thraser Invitational. It will be another tough test that will help the Lancers get ready for the postseason.
“We will head to Francis Howell for the Thrasher Invitational, which is another one of the toughest tournaments in the state,” Sumner said.