Hestin Lamons wasn’t about to let his fans down. He wasn’t going to suffer his second loss of the season and rob the 900 fans at the Tahlequah Multipurpose Activity Center a chance to see him win a Class 5A regional title.
Lamons did just enough to escape with a 6-3 victory over Collinsville’s Wyatt Jordan to claim a regional championship on Saturday night, allowing him to head to Oklahoma City for the 5A state tournament as a No. 1 seed.
“The crowd really played a huge role in the mental aspect of the match for me,” said Lamons, who claimed his second regional title at home after pulling off the same feat at the TMAC in 2011.
“I knew that it was the last time I was ever going to wrestle in that gym — and on those mats — so I wasn’t gonna let all those fans see me go down.”
At 152 pounds, Lamons will head to the state tournament for the fourth time in his high school career. However, this season, Lamons will enter the final week of the season after being taken down only twice this season.
One of those takedowns was against Jordan over the weekend. But after being taken down by Jenks’ Austin Eades at the Pryor tournament, Lamons doesn’t think much anymore about whether he’s taken to the mat by his opponent.
“During the scramble where Jordan took me down, I knew I was in bad position,” Lamons said. “But I remember thinking just to scramble. Once he took me down, I just started thinking about how I was gonna escape. I knew I had to just forget it and keep wrestling and not let up.”
Tahlequah coach James Rappe was on the same page.
“We’re past that whole ‘we’re not going to be taken down’ stigma on him,” Rappe said. “That pressure is off of him, so now he just has to wrestle. I’m kind of glad that he was taken down by the Eades boy, because now he’s taken down and it’s a whole different match.”
Next up for Lamons will be El Reno’s Elisha Leonard in the first round of the state tournament, where a state title has eluded Lamons for three years now. Knowing that, Lamons quickly put the regional crown aside and shifted his focus to standing atop the medal podium in Oklahoma City on Saturday.
“Being regional champ feels amazing, but I’ve got to move on and forget about it,” Lamons said. “I can’t lose sight of the big picture here, which is becoming a state champ. So it feels and sounds great but it’s just a stepping stone toward my ultimate goal of winning a state title.”
Not long after Lamons gave Tahlequah its first regional champion, Reese Davis followed at 160 pounds and posted a 5-1 triumph over Collinsville’s Ryan Haymaker. The Tahlequah junior led 3-1 before taking down Haymaker with six seconds left.
“He was a really good guy,” Davis said of Haymaker, who offered up a look of concession not long after Davis scored his final takedown. “In little league, he had beat me a lot, and I knew I had to bring my A game.
“I’m just so excited that I can’t even really think.”
As a top seed, along with Altus’ Cameron Loving, Davis will take on Lawton MacArthur’s Colton Jump in the first round at the state tournament. Also on Davis’ side of the championship bracket is Grove’s Garrett Sisco — who had Davis on his back before dropping a semifinal matchup at the regional tournament — and Triston Hill of Chickasha.
“Reese is tenacious if he’s anything,” Rappe said. “He’s one of the most driven young men that I’ve ever come across.”
Joining Davis and Lamons at the state tournament for Tahlequah will be Mitch Sellers (145) and Zech VanFleet (132). Both Sellers and VanFleet posted third-place finishes at the regional tournament.