Lee’s Summit North’s wrestling team held its Senior Night on Tuesday.
The ceremony before a dual against Raymore-Peculiar was short and sweet, because the Broncos only have one senior.
Jaden Duran was the lone North wrestler to escort his parents onto the mat. He survived a surprisingly tough match a short time later, but the team couldn’t survive two openings in its lineup and lost 42-27 during a Suburban Conference Gold matchup.
But Duran didn’t let the loss put a damper on his special evening, not with all the promise his younger teammates have shown this season. He may be the only upper classman, but that only drives home how good the Broncos could be down the road and how far they’ve come.
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“I’ve seen this team go from the very bottom and we’re not at very, very top, but we’re working toward that,” Duran said. “We didn’t get the win tonight, but it’s good that we’ve got a young team that can learn from that.”
North had four juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen in the lineup along with Duran against Ray-Pec, and the youngsters came through early with freshmen Cody Steinbrugge (106 pounds) and Caden Schweitzer (113) and sophomore Hunter Ross (126) scoring pins.
Ultimately, the Broncos couldn’t overcome the depth and experience in the Panthers’ upper weights, as the visitors won four of the last five matches from 170 pounds and up — three by pin — in rallying to victory.
North also had to forfeit two matches after 120-pounder Peyton Kramer suffered a knee injury Monday in practice and 145-pounder Triston Jones was absent because of the flu.
“Ray-Pec’s tough,” North wrestling coach Mick Cronk said. “They have 14 kids in the varsity lineup every year that can just flat-out wrestle. That’s a tough draw for senior night.”
Duran found himself with a surprisingly tough draw at 138 pounds. Ray-Pec freshman Jake Quest scored the first takedown and made Duran battle three periods before Duran pulled out a 5-3 decision.
It was the first time Duran had ever wrestled Quest, and he expected to face a different opponent.
“I didn’t know what to expect, so I kind of went out trying to feel it out,” said Duran, who is 26-5 this season. “I kind of put myself in that position (losing the first takedown) to see if he would try to capitalize or if he was too defensive. He let me know that he was good enough to get to that point, so I tried to stay in good positions after that.”
Junior Adrian Castaneda, who won a 6-4 decision over state qualifier Mason Pratt at 160, and junior Logan Thornton, who scored a reversal with four seconds left to beat state qualifier Joey Stalone 2-1 at 195, also picked wins on the night for North (5-3 overall, 2-3 Suburban Gold).
The Broncos’ recent success includes a 37-30 win Jan. 10 versus Blue Springs for its second dual win against the Wildcats in the program’s history.
North also five individual champions at last weekend’s Western Missouri Invitational at Center High School and placed second with three champions in Bonner Springs’ always tough tournament the weekend before.
“We have a lot of talent coming back — not just next year, but over the next few years,” Cronk said. “We’re competitive this year, but next year we’re going to be very, very competitive.”