The mindset on the mat at Camdenton is simple.
For the Lakers, the goal is to rack up as many points on the scoreboard as possible and if one is to lose, to do so by the slimmest of margins and not go down without a fight. Turns out that the grapplers at Camdenton bought into that mindset Tuesday night as the Lakers took care of business on their home mat and earned a triangular sweep over visiting Rock Bridge and Helias. Camdenton defeat Rock Bridge 48 to 20 in the first dual and wrapped it up with a 41-31 win over Helias in the final bout of the night.
“I was really proud of the kids. We are starting to live by the philosophy that we are going to keep matches close and try to do the little things that help us win and they’ve done that,” Camdenton coach Grant Leighty said. “They are wrestling tough and even in our losses, we were able to keep those close and that takes points from people so I’m really proud of them.”
Camdenton’s Grant Garrett picked up a quick six points to start out the night against Rock Bridge as his match in the 106-pound class was uncontested. Colton Libby (120), Abbey Cordia (126), Dakota Boller (160) and William Fisher (220) also picked up byes as well. Meanwhile, Gabe Blain (138) and Jesus Ramirez (170) pinned their opponents while Winton Neal (145) won a 7-3 decision and Blake Lapine (152) won a 9-5 decision.
Garett stayed unbeaten for the evening with a 9-1 major decision against Helias to improve to an impressive 28-3 on the season. The freshman echoed the words of his coach, but also pointed to the veteran leadership on the team and the lessons that seniors have provided as keys to his success.
“Win big and lose small. Go out there, and even if you cannot win the match, just do your best and don’t go (lose) major decision,” the young wrestler stated. “It has been a learning experience and I’ve learned from all the seniors like Winton and Jesus. I’ve just learned more, have become better as I have progressed through the year and I think it is showing.”
While young wrestlers like Garrett have enjoyed some success, others like Ramirez are having just as much fun leading by example and it was on display Tuesday night as Ramirez followed up his pin with a 19-6 major decision against Helias to improve to 24-6 on the year. The senior said it has been a fun ride, but the focus is on the finish line.
“It felt great coming out here and getting wins for the team and myself,” he noted. “I’ve been trying to get better every day and see what happens at the end of the year. I believe, as coach says all the time, that we have to finish strong.”
His teammates decided to finish the night strong as Blain (145) finished with a pin while Wyatt Stamper (126) won a 6-2 decision and Ethan Reinhart (138), Neal (145), Fisher (220) and Marcus Stephens (285) all picked up forfeit victories.
“Overall, I thought we wrestled really tough on the feet. I think we won the take down war and got more than we gave up and I thought we rode real tough and that is one of the things we have to do,” Leighty said of the trends he liked on the mat. “I think we still have to get better at getting off the bottom. That is one of the things that is kind of our achilles (heel) right now.
“When we stay down there bad things happen to us so we have to figure that out and that is what we are going to get up and start working on tomorrow at practice.”
A sweep is always fun for any team to enjoy, but Tuesday night was also bittersweet for the fact that Lapine wrestled his final match as a Laker. The senior graduated a semester early and his efforts and contributions to the program will not go unnoticed.
“I want to give many thanks to him and his family for allowing him to come here tonight. He was so selfless and did not have to come out this year, but he did so he could help make other people better, the team better and he did,” Leighty stated. “He is going to be a tremendous loss. He was a great young man... and has been such a hard worker. It hurts to lose a kid like that, but I’m happy for him and glad for everything he did for us.”
Camdenton improved to 7-6 in dual matches on the year and Leighty said the work is not done yet as the Lakers look to finish strong.
“I just want them to keep working hard, come into practice each day, try to get a little bit better and make the guy you are wrestling with a little bit better,” the coach noted. “We had a philosophy at the beginning of the season that is was not where we started the journey, but where we finished it so the journey is not over and we still have things to do and places to go.
“Each time we go out and wrestle, I think we get just a little bit better and if we just keep doing that, I think we’ll get where we want to be by the end of the season.”
Up next for Camdenton is a trip to Republic for a battle with the host Tigers and Neosho on Tuesday at 6 p.m.