Lack of grapplers key in wrestling’s two losses on senior night


John Flanegin

It was fitting that seniors David Feng and John Flanegin would finish their wrestling career at RBHS just how it had started, together. However, their exit would not be a winning one as the Bruins lost both duals of the duo’s senior night by a score of 70-0 to Rockhurst and 33-30 to Troy Buchanan.
In their matchup against the Hawklets RBHS fielded only six wrestlers as several of the team’s grapplers were dealing with injuries or skin conditions, decimating any shot at putting up a fight against the all-boys school from Kansas City.
After an opening loss from Flanegin against RHS’s Oscar Kelly 8-3, two-time state qualifier Brock Davis would have his most important match to this point in the season. Returning from a plica injury in his right knee Davis faced a familiar opponent in fellow state qualifier Cameron Valdiviez but couldn’t overcome Valdiviez’s size dropping the match 9-3.
Remaining wrestlers Christian Zaner, Feng, Isaac Lage, and Henry Cleavinger were also unable to pick up a win as the Hawklets shut out RBHS and left the dual with victories over both teams.
145 pound junior Isaac Lage believes the lack of numbers for the team in the final third of the season has been both a blessing and curse for the young Bruin squad.
“Some of our teammates being injured has really seemed to hurt the team’s spirit because seeing five to seven guys in the practice room day in and day out has been demoralizing,” Lage said. “On the other hand it has allowed for our coaches to be able to focus on the guys that come in and really help them to grow and become better wrestlers.”
This progression was more evident against the Troy Buchanan Trojans as much of RBHS’ matches proved more competitive including a win from sophomore 182-pounder Matt Hall by way of pin in the second period. However, RBHS was unable to overcome the Trojans and lost by three points in the finale of the night’s matches.
And while the second dual of the night was a more competitive, close clash for the Bruins it was also a closing chapter in the careers of Feng and Flanegin.
“Senior night, although bittersweet, provided a lot of closure for me,” Feng said. “It made me reflect on all the ways wrestling has changed me and how it will be ingrained in my identity for the rest of my life.”
RBHS now has just two weeks before the Class 4 District 3 Tournament begins on Feb. 12, and Feng will only have a couple of things on his mind when the date rolls around.
“To finish my last season knowing I left everything on the mat, and that I had a strong finish to a long term commitment.”
Editors Note: Writer is a member of the wrestling team