By Ashley Hocking
The LHS wrestling team is stepping onto the mat with a smaller lineup than originally intended.
During the first tournament of the season on Dec.1 at Leavenworth, noteworthy team member and senior Hunter Haralson was taken off the mat. He sustained a medial collateral injury during a match.
During the heat of the moment, Haralson pushed through the pain in his elbow, finished his match and won.
“My ligament got torn from both my bones, radius and humerus,” Haralson said. “One guy pulled my arm, and I was pulling the other way. It kind of just tore.”
This knocked the team down a peg. Haralson, who has wrestled the past 12 years on wrestling clubs and school teams, was known for dominating the competition.
He entered the season ranked No. 1 for the 132-pound class after winning the state title in 2012.
“I have a notable injury, so I won’t be able to wrestle for the rest of the season,” Haralson said. “I don’t like it at all. I want to be able to wrestle with all my friends and I can’t.”
Although the team was hurt by the loss of such a prominent wrestler, the team perseveres.
“Right now, we can only focus at one week at a time,” wrestling coach Patrick Naughton said. “It looks good, but we are still a ways off from where we need to be as a team.”
Soon after Haralson was injured, several other wrestlers followed suit and sustained injuries of their own. By the time January rolled around, the wrestling team had been cut in half due to injuries and illnesses.
“We have had our share of injuries during the first part of the season,” Naughton said. “[But] the team has really come together in recent weeks.”
Junior Xavier Kenney, a wrestler throughout his high school career, is optimistic about how the rest of the season will play out.
“Hunter [Haralson] was a major part of the team. He’s really good, a leader, and a senior,” Kenney said. “So I think it hurt us, but we have a couple other seniors that will help too.”
Last year, Kenney faced a similar dilemma to Haralson’s. Kenney broke his right elbow early in the season and was out of commission for the rest of the 2011-2012 season.
“I just really wanted to get back on the mat,” Kenney said.
Despite having a significantly smaller number of team members, the lions are giving it their all and show signs of ending the season on a good note.