Pioneers fall to visiting Thunderbirds after holding early lead

In a preview match between two, future United Kansas Conference foes - beginning in the fall of 2018 - the host Leavenworth Pioneers got a first-hand look at one of the better teams in Class 5A, the Shawnee Heights Thunderbirds on Wednesday night.

The Pioneers led 30-18 halfway through the dual, before the No. 7 ranked Thunderbirds’ big guns at the heavier weights, took control and won the last six matches to pull away for a 50-30 win.

Leavenworth recorded wins by Hartwell Taylor (120 pounds, second-round pin), Jonathon Nunes (132 pounds, first-round pin), Dylan McLain (145 pounds, second-round pin), Joey Hancock (152 pounds, first-round pin) and a forfeit at 126 pounds.

Beck’s team is still trying to get through a myriad of injuries and other things to come up with a consistently looking roster.

“We have a lot of fresh faces and an ever-changing lineup and at this point we are just trying to solidify it and get a common thread going,” LVHS head coach Jacob Beck said. “The kids that are there are working hard and will get better. (Shawnee Heights) is a good team and a hard-style to wrestle, they wrestle hard and get you in a real uncomfortable positions. They were positions we drilled the last couple weeks. It’s like a triple option: They are a team that you have to specifically prepare for. They do things other teams usually don’t specifically hit.

“They force over-unders, headlocks and go upper body big time, which we are not afraid to go upper body…they are athletes, they are good.”

Nunes was impressive in his first-ever varsity match, steamrolling to a stunningly, dominant win.

“I felt pretty good, although I feel I can get better and improve a lot,” Nunes said. “I am happy that I can be out here and wrestle and can try and improve myself. I have been practicing my reversals…for my first varsity match, I feel really good about it. I had a lot of fun.

“I feel still low on the totem pole and this is a good stepping stone to get up higher.”

McLain was in control of his match and liked how he executed the win sans a few foibles.

“First period he shot in far away so I did my thing and got behind him…first period went pretty quick,” McLain said. “In the second period, I pushed the pace harder and the first move I got him right off the bat. It feels good coming out in the new year and getting a good win.

“We had a few guys miss, but our lower weights stepped up.”