DENVER — Well, that was close.
Lyons sophomore Will Hickman got the first-round win he was looking for at the state tournament on Thursday. But he certainly made it interesting.
Though he felt he was the better wrestler, Hickman fell behind four points in the second period against Paonia’s Colton Godwin. Hickman pulled it together, however, to come from behind and win 12-11 and advance to the winners bracket.
“It was pretty close, closer than it should have been since I had him on his back a few times,” Hickman said. “I wasn’t warmed up enough, I guess. I definitely felt like I was in control the whole time. I just made a couple mistakes.”
Hickman (36-7) lost in the first round in his 2A state tournament debut as a freshman last year. He finished the 2013 tournament with a 1-2 record.
In the opening round of his second shot, Hickman had two near-falls against Godwin (22-15) but couldn’t put the Paonia freshman away. With a 6-3 lead after the first round, one slip-up that nearly led to him getting pinned in the second nearly cost him the match.
In the next round against tournament favorite Jonathan Andreatta (36-1) from John Mall, Hickman admitted he’ll have to be sharper.
“It’s good to get a good start but I gotta focus more because I’ve got a lot tougher guys next,” Hickman said.
Watching his twin brother struggle needlessly, Lions sophomore Jon Hickman made a point to keep his first-round match short and sweet once the 170-pound bracket rolled around.
Holding true to his bulldog mentality, Jon Hickman (33-4) pinned Crowley County sophomore Eryk Bauer (18-17) in 44 seconds.
“I came out really pumped up, you know, it’s state,” Jon Hickman said. “I get my blood flowing pretty good at big tournaments like this. I just wanted to get back to the hotel, get a rest and be ready for tomorrow. I’ll probably be looking at decision matches now since the guys will get tougher and tougher.”
Rounding out the Lions’ sophomore trio, Kanyon Raper (20-16) lost a 6-0 decision to Burlington’s Martin Torres (32-11). Though Raper lost, Lions head coach Chip Sullivan expects him to not go quietly since he wrestles better with his back against the wall in elimination scenarios.
Raper simply said he’ll keep looking forward following the loss.
“I need to come out as hard as I can, come out fighting, keep going and keep pushing,” Raper said.
Having qualified half of his six-man team for the state tournament, Sullivan said Thursday’s up-and-down outcomes were a decent start to the tournament that still holds immense potential for the Lions.
“It was the first day and the first round, we had a heart-wrencher, a tough loss to a tough kid, and a quick pin,” Sullivan said. “Will is a is a real cerebral kid so he’ll come back stronger tomorrow and Jon has a tall guy tomorrow, which he likes. Kanyon just caught a real strong kid from Burlington who worked his arms but he’s resilient and he’ll storm back.”