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Long layoff doesn't stop Falcons

By Cody Thorn
The Examiner
Van Horn's Demarcus Penson, top, tries to roll William Chrisman's Carl Bell Jr. onto his back in their 152-pound match Wednesday at Van Horn. Penson pinned Bell in 51 seconds to help the Falcons to a 42-27 victory over the crosstown rival Bears.

Van Horn hadn’t been on the mat for a long time, partly because of the Christmas break and a COVID-19 incident that wiped out the last matches before the holiday.

Despite being idle, the Falcons swept a double dual on Wednesday, beating William Chrisman 42-28 and Oak Park 33-30.

“It is good (to win) coming off Christmas break and a long break,” Van Horn coach Craig Addison said. “It has been a long time since we had a full team wrestle, so it is important for the morale to come back and get two dual victories and look good in the process.”

The last time the Falcons competed was on Dec. 12 at the Truman Tournament. On Dec. 15, they were headed to Fort Osage for the Independence City Championships but had to leave after weigh-ins due to contract tracing. That also wiped out the Raytown South Tournament that same week.

Van Horn opened Wednesday with the win against Oak Park, rallying from a deficit, then building an early lead against Chrisman.

William Chrisman's Andru Campos, right, tries to take down Van Horn's CJ Nelson in their 182-pound match Wednesday at Van Horn. Campos won a 7-5 decision but Van Horn claimed a 42-28 victory.

Nathan Hamilton (113) opened with a win for the short-handed Bears – who had only seven wrestlers on the boys side – with a pin over Dashiel Gonzalez 57 seconds into the second period. Hamilton held a 4-2 lead at the time of the fall.

“It is always great to see success, like at 113,” Chrisman coach Riley Glasgow said. “He is a first-year wrestler that has wrestled three matches, and getting that win and seeing the success the past two months is huge for him. I hope it helps fuel his fire.”

Lack of numbers, though, meant forfeits in five of the next six matches for Chrisman. At 152, Demarcus Penson pinned Carl Bell Jr. in 51 seconds to grow Van Horn’s lead to 36-6.

The Bears won the next three matches. Andru Campos (182) won by decision and Nathan Campos (220) took a forfeit. In between those wins, Mason Walters (195) pinned Keanu Sua.

Mason Igou (285) pinned Brandon Rue for the Falcons’ last win. Chrisman’s Riley Ragan (106) closed the dual with a pin in 51 seconds.

The Bears opened the year with 25 wrestlers and are now down to fielding half of the possible 14 weight classes. The low numbers make it hard to practice with gaps between 106 and 152 and 182.

“It has been difficult but we do take pride in going out when we are competing,” Glasgow said. “We bust our butts every day and we pride ourself in that. It's just very tough to overcome (the open weights). We talk about it as a team. We know we aren’t a dual team, we have too many opens. We have got to be selfish, individually for yourself, at duals and think of the team in the long run as kids started falling off and quitting on us.”

The Chrisman girls topped Van Horn 18-6. Elena Nuckolls (127) won the first match for the Bears by pinning Mariah Fisher. The Falcons then tied it at 6-6 when Rachel Garner needed only 10 seconds to secure a pin.

Cosette Jorgensen broke the tie with a pin at 1:55 against Robyn Murphy. In the final match, Nina Porter (174) pinned Elizabeth Dickerson in 2:13.

Oak Park handed the Chrisman boys a 50-21 setback, but a bulk of that came from six forfeits.

Ragan opened with a 6-5 decision over Tristan Supernaw to give Chrisman an early 3-0 lead, but the Northmen scored 46 unanswered points – 36 of which came from forfeits. Walters received a forfeit at 195, while Nathan Campos and Rue followed with pins.

Oak Park won the girls match, 24-15. Jorgensen received a forfeit before the Bears won two in a row. Porter (174) won 6-2 against Nevaeh Wardlow and returning state qualifier Mary Mae McMillan needed less than a minute to pin Celeste Aubry.

William Chrisman's Nina Porter, top, tries to get an advantage on Oak Park's Nevaeh Wardlow during their 174-pound match Wednesday at Van Horn. Porter won 6-2 but Oak Park topped the Bears 24-15.

The Oakies got a 30-12 win against Van Horn – the lone match won by the Falcons was a pin by Murphy at 1:15.

The boys match between Van Horn and Oak Park went down to the final match, when Sua got a pin with 14 seconds left in the second period against Josh Gant.

It was a move by Addison that paid off, bumping Sua up to 220 for the match.

“I decided we needed to win the dual and he got the pin,” Addison said. “He wrestled really well. Oak Park is a good team. This was a good team victory – a whole team victory.”

The match opened at 285 and Igou got a 3-1 win in overtime against Gavin Turner. Oak Park took a 9-3 lead but Darrius Paige got a pin at 2:59 to defeat Jake Falder. Paige, a freshman, improved to 9-0.

That tied it 9-9 and Van Horn followed by getting a forfeit win, but then fell behind. Penson needed only 18 seconds to pin Eljiah Lowe (145), which gave Van Horn a 21-18 lead.

The Falcons took a 27-18 lead after a forfeit, but Oak Park won at 160, 170 and 182 to take a 30-27 lead. A double open at 195 set up Sua’s victory for the win.

“We have been working really hard in practice and it feels good,” Paige said.

Van Horn travels to Excelsior Springs on Saturday for a tournament, while the Bears will travel to Oak Grove for the Panther Classic.

“It is my hometown tournament,” said Glasgow, a 2009 Oak Grove graduate. “I kind of want to show off our kids and you could say it is definitely personal when we see an Oak Grove kid. We want to get that win.”