The marquee matchup of the night didn’t disappoint. Sand Creek’s Tuli Laulu won a clash of heavyweight titans over Air Academy’s Justin Petrash, but that was nearly the only excitement for Scorpions fans.
The Kadets dominated their first home dual Wednesday, riding five pins to a 57-19 victory.
Laula, ranked No. 1 in Class 4A by Tim Yount’s On The Mat rankings, scored a quick reversal to start the second period, but gave a point back on an escape by No. 3 Petrash. A second escape in the third evened the score at two and pushed the match to overtime.
Petrash went on the offensive in the extra period, shooting for a single-leg takedown but Laulu countered with a Whizzer, pushing Petrash to the mat. He quickly shuffled around to Petrash’s back to score the decisive takedown in a 4-2 win, moving his record to 18-0.
“Toughest yet,” Laulu said of his opponent. “He has great position. He’s not like other heavyweights that don’t move. He moves his feet a lot and from past experience with him I knew he was hard to beat.”
“He’s always the aggressor when we go at it,” Laulu said. “I just like to get position. If something feels wrong I try to change it up. It’s not really an aggression or defensive thing.”
The match could easily have gone the other way for Petrash.
“When he got that leg I thought for a second he was going to beat him,” Kadets coach Blue Anderson said. “If he’d have gone to the side, but he tried to drive it straight through and that ain’t going to work (against Laulu).”
The win gave another boost of confidence for the Kadets, coming off their first tournament win Saturday at Pueblo Centennial. Junior 138-pounder Rory Hughes started the festivities with a 3-minute, 25-second pin of Mike Sapplicio with what he termed a “goofy scramble pin” in the first match.
“I got a wing in and tried stacking him but he got out of that and I just held him down as best I could,” Hughes said. “I was thinking I needed to set the pace for the rest of the team.”
Seventh-ranked Sophomore Tyler Hanenberg recorded the final pin, sticking John Kelley in 1:26 at 126 pounds. Hanenberg, son of assistant Pete Hanenberg, was excited about his first home dual after missing last season due to shoulder surgery.
“I grew up in this gym with my dad coaching,” Hanenberg said “Growing up here, being in practices, I was really excited about this. It felt really good.”