It was a grueling week of practice in preparation for the 2016 Big Horn Duals hosted by Mayde Creek High School. St. John’s was 10-1 on the season with arguably one of the toughest challenges in front of them for the weekend. 20 Maverick wrestlers boarded a bus to Katy before sunrise on Friday and would do it again on Saturday. A year ago at the Big Horn St. John’s finished 3rd overall, quite a feat considering the majority of the teams in the event were 6A public high schools, some with big time wrestling credentials.
For this year’s dual, Cinco Ranch, Seven Lakes, Klein, Cy Fair, Thompkins, Katy Taylor, Weslaco, and Mayde Creek among others were all in the ring. Hall of fame coach Bill Dushane of Cinco Ranch got his 500th career win, stopping the dual for a standing ovation.
“You can equate Cinco Ranch Wrestling to Katy High School Football,” said St. John’s Head Coach Alan Paul.
For Friday the Mavericks were in a pool of 6 teams starting off against Cy Creek. With junior Frank Willey’s first-period pin against Cy-Creek at 182 pounds, the Mavericks established their presence immediately. The Mavericks recorded six bonus point wins in nine bouts en route to a dominant 69-9 victory over the Cougars. The wrestlers did not slow down, imposing their will over Cy-Lakes, Episcopal, Heights, and Brazoswood with winning scores of 54-21, 64-9, 66-12, and 51-30, respectively. Freshmen Thomas Grannen and Will Skinner, juniors Layo Laniyan, Evan Hammerman, Peter Chen, and Michael Meaux, as well as senior Josh Thomas all finished the day unbeaten. Skinner was especially impressive in his 13-5 major decision win at 132 over Episcopal High School’s returning SPC placer Matthew Melody.
“Will wrestles like an upper classman,” said Coach Paul. “He is part of a team that feeds off each other. Wrestling matters to them.”
After the Mavericks swept the Friday pool with convincing performances, Saturday posed more of a challenge, as the team was placed in the gold bracket with Weslaco, Katy Taylor, Klein, Tompkins, and Cy-Fair. The Mavericks started the morning with a 45-31 over a very game Weslaco squad. The wrestlers then cruised past Katy Taylor, 45-28, off the strength of five pins. After handling its first two opponents, the team faced its most formidable foe in Klein High School who defeated Cinco Ranch, one of the top programs around.
“Cinco Ranch is like the carrot in high school wrestling,” said Paul. Every team aspires to be like them. “
An outstanding team performance gave the win to the Mavericks in dramatic fashion, as they won 32-31 after being awarded a criteria point for having more wins coming by pin. Crucial bonus-point victories came from junior captains Layo Laniyan (major) and Dani Yan’18 (pin). The wrestlers were ecstatic after narrowly defeating the Bearkats, but the tournament was not over yet. After downing a well-coached Tompkins team by a score of 45-33, the Mavericks faced one final test against Cy-Fair, the defending Cy-Ridge invitational champions. The dual was a back-and-forth battle but the Mavericks ultimately prevailed, 39-21, and cemented their status as the undisputed Big Horn Duals champions. With a controlling 10-3 win at 170, Peter Chen left Mayde Creek with his undefeated season (15-0) still intact.
“We went into the weekend knowing that if we wrestled to our potential we were the best team in the gym," said captain Layo Laniyan ’18. “We were not intimidated by the public high schools and big name teams. We just went out and got it done. People stepped up and did their part.”
The Mavericks celebrated their historic win on Saturday, but have since realigned their focus to working towards new goals.
Dani Yan and Sam Chambers -Athletic News