By Pat Dailey (For OzarksSportssZone.com)
NIXA —Trevor Christian earned the right Thursday to display the ‘Pin Chain’ he helped bring to Lebanon’s wrestling team earlier this month.
Christian was one of four Yellowjackets to post a pin in their 39-24 win over Nixa.
After their pins, Christian (152 pounds), Hunter Lewis (120), Cole Roark (126) and Ty Glendenning (170) each had the ‘Pin Chain’ placed around their neck.
“We saw other teams do it and thought it was pretty cool, so we started it a couple of weeks ago,” Christian said, adding Neosho is among those who have such a chain. “When you hear someone rattling the chain, that makes you want to get the pin even more.”
Christian (38-2) had the quickest pin of the night. The 5-foot-8 dynamo got the best of 6-foot-5 Charles Hawkins in only :36.
“That was weird,” Christian said of giving up nine inches. “I didn’t want to give him space because then he could use his long arms. I wanted to get in close so he couldn’t use his length.”
Christian upped his winning streak to 16. Last weekend, he was 6-0 at the Owasso (Oklahoma) Ram Duals. He also won a championship at the Capitol City Invitational in Jefferson City this season, as Lebanon (24-3) has thrived opposite a formidable slate.
“It’s been tough,” Christian said. “I’ve only lost twice, but had a lot of close matches I could have lost. The schedule will help us at Districts and State. You have a weak schedule and then show up for Districts and State, you won’t do so well. I’d rather have more losses and wrestle a bunch of tough guys.”
Roark also has valued the competition Lebanon has faced.
“The schedule has been a good chance for us to get better,” he said. “I’d rather wrestle the good guys and be prepared for State.”
Roark pinned Nixa’s Ethan Shepherd in 3:16, despite injuring two fingers on his right hand near the end of the first period. He had a sense of urgency at the start of the second period.
“I wanted to finish it quick and deal with the pain after the match.” Roark said. “I think I tweaked it or something. It hurts, but I don’t think it’s anything (serious).”
Lewis recorded his pin n 1:18 and Glendenning posted his fall in 3:51.
The Yellowjackets highlights also included a 9-8 triumph by Hayden Dearborn at 138, a 2-1 win by Jake Henson at 170 and a 1-0 victory by Race Cottongin at 285.
Nixa’s Ozzie Garcia (28-6), a third-place finisher at State last year, pulled out a 5-3 win at 220 versus Landen Smith.
“I felt like I controlled the match on my feet the whole time, so I wasn’t really worried about anything,” Garcia said. “I got a couple shots in, that was good.
“I was feeling strong. My conditioning was strong the entire match. I never felt tired or out of breath. I like to go the distance sometimes to up my cardio.”
Nixa (17-4) received pins from Trevor Rock (160) and Donovan Bennett (195), while Deagan Fugitt (106), Hunter Christenwon (113), Chandler McAfee (145) won by decision.
Garcia experienced some flashbacks with the dual being held at Nixa Junior High.
“Coming back here, this is where I began my wrestling career in the seventh grade,” he said. “I’m able to see everything here that is new and everything that is old. It’s bittersweet.”
Garcia also enjoyed the sweet taste of victory last weekend. An avid and lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan, he’s relishing their trip to Super Bowl LII.
“I didn’t think they would get back to the Super Bowl this soon,” Garcia said. “But they are a tough group with a great O-line and D-line. I can’t wait for the Super Bowl. It will be the week before Districts. Hopefully, the Eagles can get it done and then I can get it done.”