ALBURNETT – Consider it the first of possible book-end matches this season.
Oh, there will be a couple in between now and the end of the year as well.
In a battle of defending state champions, Lisbon’s Carter Happel drew first blood, defeating Alburnett’s two-time state champion Hunter Washburn, 7-3, last night at Alburnett. Despite the loss by one of their leaders, the Class 1A top-ranked Pirates won the dual, 54-24, adding to wins over Starmont and North Linn in a quadrangular event.
Happel scored six points in the final period remaining, supporting his No. 1 ranking in over second-ranked Washburn at 132 pounds. At least it seems that way for now.
“It feels pretty good to come out early and get ahead of him in the series,” Happel said. “I’ll probably wrestle him two or three more times before state.”
Happel trailed 2-1 to start the third, hitting a switching for a reversal 12 seconds into the period. Washburn tied the score, 3-3, with about 1:20 to go, setting up the decisive takedown and two nearfall points.
“I was just thinking to myself that next takedown is going to win it, because we were both tired,” Happel said. “I was trying to set up my shot. He took a bad shot, so I went around behind and caught him on his back.”
The most crucial stretch was the scoreless second. Happel rode Washburn for the entire two minutes, stifling a few standup attempts, keeping the score within a point, entering the final period.
“He won the match in that second period,” Lisbon Coach Brad Smith said. “He rode him out and took a lot of gas out of him.
“It was close the first two periods. Carter has a lot of poise. When he gets behind he doesn’t panic. He’s as good as he is because he stays after guys and keeps attacking.”
A packed gym cheered when they took the mat and were treated to a flurry in the opening frame, leading to a Washburn takedown. They exchanged partial single-leg shots, followed by Washburn ankle-pick attempt and Happel getting in deep on a double-leg shot with Washburn securing double underhooks and then getting a takedown on the edge of the mat for a 2-0 lead.
After that first score, Washburn was disappointed with how the match progressed. He wasn’t feeling well after the match, but denied it was a factor.
“My legs gassed during the match,” Washburn said. “All in all, there are no excuses. I lost.”
Washburn earned an escape in the third, but the damage was done in the earlier period. It didn’t take away from the match living up to the billing.
“They put on a show,” Alburnett Coach Kane Thompson said. “He rode Hunter too long and too hard.”
Washburn took away a little motivation from the result. He knows he has work to do, but has the chance to avenge that loss.
“No one’s untouchable,” Washburn said. “You just have to keep working toward the final goal.”
The test was a good gauge for both and the two will help push each other to be at their best for another possible match next week, a run-in at the Tri-Rivers Conference tournament and in the postseason.
“It’s good for us so we can wrestle a lot,” said Happel, a Cadet national freestyle champ. “He’s a good opponent.”
The Pirates dominated their three opponents. Alburnett started the night with a 66-13 win over the Lynx. The Pirates capped the night with a 72-12 victory against Starmont.
“We wrestled pretty good,” Thompson said. “The first time out I think we saw some freshmen with some jitters, but it was pretty solid. We battled hard. There was a lot of good handfighting and good pressure.
“Our lineup is not set where we want it yet, and we still had some pretty good dual scores so I feel pretty good about that.”
Lisbon sandwiched the Alburnett dual with wins over Starmont and North Linn. The Lynx beat Starmont, 48-21.