By nature, Nate Rykerd tends to put things off until the last minute, pretty much your everyday high school guy.
“Yeah, I have a paper to write tomorrow that’s due Monday,” the Lewis-Palmer senior wrestler said Saturday, moments after he won the crown at 138 pounds at the 33rd Harold McCray Invitational at Lewis-Palmer.
But how about a wrestler who procrastinates? Rykerd also seems to have a niche for 11th-hour dramatics on the mat, at least through the first two weeks of the season. On Saturday, he rallied in the last minute of the championship match against Doherty’s Thaddeus Hayes, pinning the Spartan with 30 seconds left to overcome a one-point deficit.
A week ago at the Battle of the Best Invitational at Pine Creek, Rykerd waited even a little longer, scoring the winning points on a takedown just before the buzzer in the third-place match.
“I’m trying to break that habit this year and be more aggressive to start off the match,” said Rykerd, a three-time 4A state cross country competitor who also qualified for the 4A state tournament the past two years at 125 and 132 pounds, respectively. “But overall, I’m happy with the way I’ve started the season.”
Junior heavyweight Luke Fowler gave the Rangers a two-victory day in their home gym, gutting out a 5-4 decision over Douglas County’s Jamin Smith. Fowler, also a Lewis-Palmer offensive and defensive lineman, broke a 3-3 tie by scoring two points on a sprawl move late in the third period, then yielded an escape point but otherwise held his ground as time expired.
“I have some stuff to work on, but the sprawl is something I’m pretty good at,” Fowler said. “You can’t save anything for overtime, especially in heavyweights, because they usually beat you.”
Saturday’s 16-team event, formerly the Lewis-Palmer Wrestling Invitational but recently renamed for its former coach of 29 years, couldn’t declare a clear-cut champion after more than eight hours of competition and 270 matches.
With defending champion Falcon and Cherry Creek deadlocked at 180 points, tournament officials were forced to count individual matches won by each school to break the tie. After a several-minute delay, Falcon reclaimed the title with a five-win margin over the Bruins.
“I told all my guys that all these matches are important,” second-year Falcons coach Claude Robinson said. “Even if it’s a fifth-place match, we still want to move forward. We’ve done nothing but climb since I got here last year.”