Reflections on LHS wrestling

By: 
TED HILL
Special to the Outlook

At the Billings Metra Arena 12 Laurel wrestlers competed at the State Tournament this year; six freshmen, one sophomore, one junior and four seniors.
Of the 12, two LHS wrestlers placed within the top six; freshmen Matt Dewitt took second in the 113 weight class and Keagan Campbell took third at 120.
Ten of of the 12 wrestlers won at least one match, including five who qualified for the second day of the tournament. Three wrestlers just missed placing by one match (senior Payten Batalden at 126, freshman Cameron Younger at 170 and senior Brett McBurney at 182). Junior Mason Fend had to scratch from the tournament because of an injury, but otherwise would have likely been a top-six placer.
Quick comments on the season that was.
Matthew DeWitt: Matt wrestled a great tournament and almost pulled off a championship. He lost by one point to a very tough opponent in the championship match. He defeated a wrestler in the semi-final round that had previously pinned him. You have to be proud anytime any of your guys make the title match at the State Tournament.
Keagan Campbell: Keagan got caught in a five-point move in the quarterfinal round against the Havre guy (who went on to place second). Keagan, who has the ability to be a State Champion in the future, didn’t allow that loss to affect the rest of his tournament. He battled back and dominated the rest of the competition to earn third place.
Mason Fend: Mason sustained an injury early in the week but attempted to battle through it. He was able to grab a quick pin over an opponent in the first round but the injury flared up. He was in a lot of pain but gave it a go in the second round. However, the injury would not allow Mason to finish the tournament. It was great to see Mason attempt to battle through it and had it not been for the injury he would have a been a top placer.
Payten Batalden: Payten pulled off a big win Friday night in the consolation round. He defeated a Billings Central opponent who had pinned him at Divisionals and fell one win shy of placing.
Brett McBurney: Brett lost to the second and third place guys in his weight, by a combined couple points. If a couple scrambles had gone his way, Brett would have medaled.
Freshman Garrett Sletten, freshman Keagan Thompson, sophomore Matt Glennon, freshman Kayne Johnson, senior RJ Gill and senior Nick Verlanic all had amazing matches. Each of those guys either faced opponents who went on to place or we had previously lost to. Our guys closed the gap on each of those opponents. It was great to see our improvement show in those rematches. Just too bad we weren’t able to push for a few more points in those matches.
The team scores don’t properly represent how well we wrestled this weekend. We had some tough draws but almost pulled out several close matches against guys who went on to place. We also had several revenge matches in which we beat opponents, who had either previously beat us or had winning records against us going into State. Very proud of the team as a whole as every guy left it all out there.
We are losing five seniors from this year’s roster, Payten Batalden, RJ Gill, Nick Verlanic, Brett McBurney and Riley Sletten. We will miss their leadership and great presence they brought to the wrestling room.
Overall, our team was very young with mostly freshmen. We look at the future continuing to be bright with room always to get better. Our success for next season will depend on how much work our young guys are willing to put in from now until the start of the next season. 
Champions are made during the off season.

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