Lake Forest’s Thomson tops wrestling podium

LEWES — For one it was a final shot at glory as a high school athlete. And the other, perhaps the beginning of a history making run.

Both made the most of their respective opportunities.

Lake Forest Brian Thomson

(The Journal/Jeff Mitchell) Lake Forest senior Brian Thomson capped his wrestling career with a state championship.

Lake Forest senior Brian Thomson finally overcame Smyrna’s Ronnie Wuest in the 170-pound semifinals during last weekend’s state individual wrestling championships at Cape Henlopen High. He then went onto capture the weight class title with a 5-1 decision versus Tower Hill’s Jack Guan.

Milford freshman Cameron Hayes’ trek was a little different.

His chance to avenge a loss in the Henlopen Conference Championship 106-pound final to Caesar Rodney’s Mason Harrington was not to be, as the Rider was upset by Delaware Military Academy’s Shane Cawman in the state championship’s semifinals round.

Hayes then completely controlled his final bout with Cawman to win the 106-pound title.

“Thank you God, that’s all I can say,” said Thomson, who was Lake Forest’s first individual state champion since 2002. “It means so much because at Lake Forest we’re a family. I didn’t get a title, my family got a title.”

In the match with Guan, Thomson took control late in the second period.

With the top position, the Spartan was able to keep Guan from earning an escape point by continuously bringing him back down to the mat. Then, as the clock neared zero, the third-seeded Thomson turned Guan for a pair of back points.

“I wasn’t giving away any points, I was going to make him work for it and maybe try to get a turn,” Thomson said of his thoughts entering the second period. “I knew that (turn) was big, but I had to keep wrestling.”

Thomson won by pin in his opening round match with Wilmington Charter’s Darrell Yirenkyi and then advanced to the semifinals off a 7-3 decision versus Salesianum’s William Stradley.

From there the senior avenged his loss in the conference final to Wuest with a 5-2 decision before capturing the title over Guan.

Lucky No. 7, meanwhile, seemed to favor Hayes. Not that luck had anything to do with his championship run.

The Milford freshman pinned Hodgson’s Dante Beadle in the state tournament opening round before notching three consecutive 7-0 decisions, including in the final over Cawman, to top the podium.

“It feels amazing, you can’t even put words into it,” Hayes said. “The season’s been great. We got a team title and I’ve had fun working with coach (Dan) Rigby and learning things.”

Winning a state title as a freshman also gives Hayes a chance at making rare history, as he now has a shot to join the very exclusive four-time champion club. That’s something, however, the Buccaneer said will not be a focus as he enters the off-season and readies for next year.

“I try not to think too far ahead, just take it step by step,” he said. “(During the off-season) I’ll be working on a lot of freestyle and (Greco-Roman wrestling) and training with Team Delaware.”

Hayes was one of three state finalists for Milford, as juniors Bart Dalious (138) and Kenny VanVorst (195) also reached their respective championship matches.

Second-seeded Dalious, however, ran into Caravel buzzsaw senior Clint Ferrazzo, who defeated him 7-0, and No. 3 VanVorst was bested by Smyrna’s Marquelle Bennett 9-2.

“It’s a big improvement from last year,” VanVorst said of his second place finish. “I’ll get back in the weight room (and) learn more technique (for next season).”

Along with the three finalists, Milford sent four more grapplers to the podium.

Seniors Matt Groce (182) and Jarek Lugo (120) placed fifth and sixth, respectively.

“Matt’s never really came out and been a superstar but he’s the unsung hero and a leader,” Rigby said of Groce. “I’m proud of him for placing.

“Jarek’s been a solid guy in our lineup for four years. (Sixth) place isn’t where he wanted to be, but it is what it is.”

Junior Chase Taylor (152) and sophomore Alex Creasey (126) each finished fourth for the Buccaneers.

For Lake Forest, fourth-seeded senior John Flamer nearly upset eventual 220-pound state champion Mark Mullnack in the semifinals, losing by 6-4 decision.

Flamer, who won by fall in each of his other matches, wrestled back to win the consolation bracket, pinning Salesianum’s Riley Montgomery in the third place bout.

Another Spartans senior, Tim Dixon, took sixth in the 195-pound weight class.

“We placed what we brought last year, and that’s a pretty big increase,” Lake coach Mike Hansen said. “Brackets came out early enough that we knew we were going to have to wrestle (Wuest and Mullnack) in the semifinals. When we looked at the film we had to break them down. Instead of focusing on why we lost (in the conference finals) we looked at what we had to do to win.

Lake was able to reach the Division II state dual-meet tournament for the second consecutive season in 2015, largely due to its 13 seniors, nine of which started at some point during the year and eight who were fulltime wrestlers.

Losing that many upperclassmen, Hansen said, will test the returning Spartans’ mettle next year.

“This is my fifth year as head coach at Lake, sixth year total, and these are my guys,” Hansen said. “It’s going to be tough to watch some of these kids leave. You don’t get a whole lot of Brian Thomson’s, hardworking good kids. Those kids, the John Flamer’s, they don’t come around often.

“We’ll see what we’re made of next year for sure.”

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