DENVER — Talon Harris from the from the Norwood/Nucla wrestling team had been making a mockery of the competition in the Class 2A 120-pound bracket.
Lyons junior Will Hickman was well aware of this fact heading into his battle against Harris in the state championship match. Hickman figured the best plan was his only plan, and that was to dive in aggressively from the opening whistle.
It didn’t help.
Hickman’s stellar state tournament run came to an abrupt end Saturday night at the Pepsi Center, as Harris denied the Lyons program its first state wrestling title in more than a decade by pinning Hickman just 1 minute, 31 seconds into the match.
“I didn’t really know much about him, I just knew he was a really good wrestler,” said Hickman, who finished the season with a record of 21-8. “I just wanted to wrestle my best, like I always do. He’s pretty quick. He did the move he does best, and he just caught me with it.”
After finishing fifth at 103 pounds last year as a sophomore, Hickman moved up two weight classes this season and enjoyed a banner year. His three victories at the state tournament featured a pair of pins, including a win against Meeker’s Tristin Pelloni in 4:59 Friday night in the state semifinals.
Harris, though, simply was too dominant at state. All four of the senior’s victories occurred via pins, and he spent only 5:33 overall on the mats to produce those four wins — or only 34 seconds more than Hickman needed just to record his semifinal win.
“(Harris) is so long and so hard to get in on, but you have to get in on a kid like that,” Lyons coach Chip Sullivan said. “We watched film a little bit (of Harris) as we went along to see what we had to look at. We knew pulling it off would be a tough thing to do, and it was.”
Adding luster to Hickman’s state runner-up season was how he was able to remain focused through the injury issues suffered by his twin brother, Jon Hickman. Jon Hickman was a state runner-up last year at 170-pounds, but repeated issues with concussions forced him to step away from wrestling at midseason.
Despite suddenly missing his lifelong training partner, Will Hickman still was able to advance all the way to the state championship match.
“I love (Hickman) and that’s all I can say about him. He gives me everything I could ever want,” Sullivan said. “It’s been a rough season, but getting here and watching him make the finals makes it all worth it. If anything, Jon always overshadowed Will a little. They’re twins, but because (Jon) was bigger it was always like Will was the little brother. This gave Will a chance to be where his brother was, and I think the whole team really wanted to see Will get here.”
Lyons’ other state entrant, 145-pound junior Kanyon Raper, finished 2-2 in the tournament but was unable to reach medal contention.
Raper earned a win in his opening match on Thursday before getting pinned in the quarterfinals by Holly’s Ryan Nordyke, the eventual state champ. Raper rebounded to post a major decision (16-4) in his first consolation bout against Adam Babian of John Mall, but Raper was eliminated from medal contention when he was pinned by Buena Vista’s Malik Johnson Saturday morning.
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