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LISBON — The wait is finally over.
Lisbon has another state wrestling title to add to its large collection. The Lions are going to appreciate since it was more than 20 years in the making.
Second-seeded Lisbon defeated rival Don Bosco, 45-26, to win the Class 1A title at the State Duals tournament Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Arena. The Lions claimed their fourth State Duals crown and first since 1991.
“Lisbon hasn’t won in a long time and to come and win is amazing,” senior 138-pounder Chase McLaughlin said. “We want to be part of those legendary teams. We want to be on that wall with all those legendary wrestlers. To have that happen now with this team is fantastic.”
McLaughlin said this was a special group destined to win the first time he stepped in to train with these Lions. This has been a goal since they were very little.
“I’ve wanted to be on that wall since I was in Kindergarten,” Lisbon junior Kaden Kilburg said. “It’s really nice.”
The Lions (25-4) were so close a year ago, losing in the final on criteria. They left little doubt this time. The Lions won six matches in a stretch of seven weights, taking a commanding 27-8 lead.
Cooper Siebrecht (132) and 170-pounder Bryce Werderman won by fall. McLaughlin, Kilburg (160) and Jake Jennett at 182 all posted major decisions.
“We always try to get bonus points,” Kilburg said. “We knew what we had to do to get our bonus points.”
The Lions were able to move some wrestlers around and Logan O’Connor bumped up to heavyweight, scoring a pin to put things away for Lisbon. The Lions were replaced atop the rankings by the Dons (21-4), who beat Lisbon at the end of January.
“Basically, we had nothing to lose and everything to gain,” Lisbon Coach Brad Smith said. “After we won that heavyweight match, they kind of folded their tent a little bit. They didn’t put their top 106-pounder out or their good 113-pounder. We had the meet won so they were saving them for the individual tournament.”
The flat showing a couple weeks ago was a wake-up call. They learned from it and answered the bell. They won a couple key weights the last time. McLaughlin rebounded from a loss by fall to Austin Hellman at Gilbertville. Hellman moved to 145 Wednesday night and the Lions’ Jack Butteris handed him a 6-3 loss.
“Last time, we weren’t all the way ready, and we knew that,” McLaughlin said. “We knew we had to be pumped up. We knew we had to be hungry.”
Smith has guided Lisbon to seven traditional titles and now four duals titles. He returned to the program before the 2012-13 season after more than two decades at Iowa City High and a brief retirement. The goal was to resurrect Lisbon’s championship ways.
“We just got better every year,” Smith said. “The kids bought into what the coaches were telling them. That’s what it takes. Just constantly working in the offseason. Do whatever you can to get better. We don’t sit around and do nothing in the offseason. I think our offseason competition and what we do to prepare is what made the difference.”
Lisbon opened with a 50-24 victory over Wapsie Valley. The Lions downed Missouri Valley, 42-27, in the semifinal. They became stronger as the tournament progressed.
“The kids wrestled super,” Smith said. “They got tougher every meet. The competition got tougher (and) we took it to another level.”
The Lions are content with the Duals crown. They have nine wrestlers in the traditional field and looking for a much quicker turnaround for another championship celebration.
“We’re excited,” Smith said. “We’re looking forward to this weekend as well.”
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