Like father — like son?
Sophomore Lane McVicker of Eaton Rapids sure hopes so, maybe even go one better.
McVicker won his Division 2 135-pound opening match, Thursday at the MHSAA state wrestling finals at the Palace in a four-overtime escape for one point over Noah Hall of Niles, 1-0.
“I felt like he had more strength than me, but I felt I had a little more technique,” McVicker said of why neither wrestler could score for over nine minutes. “It just came down to a good match.
“I kept on trying to do a standing switch but he was too strong, so I just did his hands.”
Eaton Rapids coach Joe Barry said McVickers’ father, Doug, placed second in the state in 1986. He was part of the school’s three straight team titles in 1985-87, so the protégé looks to his dad and the school’s tradition of great wrestling for motivation.
“It helps me a lot, I just want to be like him and his teams,” McVicker said. “There’s not one easy match out here.
“It’s really tough to win, and when you do you should be proud of yourself.”
Other local first-timers to the Palace include Waverly’s David Leija (125 pounds) and DeWitt 135-pounder Kameron Melton.
Leija moved here from Nebraska, where he said he placed fourth in the state at 113 pounds.
“I went in with a lot of energy, and I was going out doing what I needed to do,” Leija said of the 4-2 win over Dustin Vires of Edwardsburg. “I think he got a little tired and I got a takedown at the end which I really wanted.”
He said there are definitely style differences between the two states.
“In Michigan the guys don’t really ride as much,” Leija added. “They’ll take you down with a slam instead of turning.”
He was also proud of schoolmate Rachel Curtis, who was called by tournament officials to sing the opening round National Anthem.
“Yes, that was really nerve-wracking,” Curtis said moments afterward, surrounded by the largest crowd she has ever performed for. “But once I started singing is was better. I was just so glad to be here. It was a great experience.”
Melton is a senior but has felt jinxed by sickness or injury in past years, never before qualifying for states. In his final shot, he pinned sophomore Ethan Douglas of Ortonville in round one.
“Never been here before, my first states ever, so it was very sweet to get the first win out of the way,” he said about focusing this season on staying healthy. “This is my last go at it. I’ve got to go out with a bang.”
Melton said what he is doing best right now is, “Keeping my hips down so they can’t throw me, don’t want to get caught in stupid stuff like that. Just shoot, shoot, shoot.”
Holt’s Benny Gomez is going for a second state championship after winning last year at 103. He earned a tech fall in 5:41 over Jeremy Nelson of Livonia Franklin in the Div. 1 match at 112.
“One down, three to go, but I do take it one match at a time,” Gomez said. “I’m doing well on the bottom right now.
“I am able to get away and then get on top and turn them. I have been scoring best from my feet. My first goal is to score points, then get to the pin if it’s there.”
The pinnacle of a high school wrestling career is to win four state titles, an accomplishment achieved in Michigan 17 times to date.
The most recent were Adam Coon of Fowlerville last year and Taylor Massa of St. Johns in 2012.
Zac Hall, also of St. Johns, hopes to be No. 18 on the prestigious list. He took just 55 seconds to pin Caleb Roberts of Carleton Airport at 140 pounds in Division 2, Thursday, to advance.
St. Johns has five more wrestlers still alive in the winner’s bracket — Ian Parker, Mark Bozzo, defending champ Logan Massa, defending champ Angus Arthur, and Ty Wildmo.