BRENTWOOD – For the Independence High School wrestling coach and first-year coach Bryan Youngsma, it wasn’t quite as simple as ‘once is enough’.
But once was enough – for now.
After both the Eagles and Summit won their District 14-AAA/Region 7-AAA duals tournament semifinal matches Tuesday night, Independence opted not to wrestle the championship contest.
With the decision, the Spartans clinched the region title and home mats for the upcoming sectional against the Region 8-AAA runner-up. Independence will travel for sectionals.
“We didn’t feel like there was anything in it, for either team,” Youngsma said. “We’re already down (wrestlers). Maybe we beat them, but maybe we lose another starter in the process.
“With COVID, with injuries – for one extra match, it didn’t make sense.”
The decision allows Independence to maintain some momentum as it continues the postseason, while avoiding a rematch of a 65-7 loss to Summit on Jan. 14.
In a 41-32 win over host Brentwood, the Eagles looked nothing like that team from nearly two weeks ago.
“Our guys wrestled at a pretty high level the whole time,” Youngsma said. “When our 120 (-pounder, Philip Shand) got up 9-0 and got pinned, I thought it was going to turn the other way. They rose to the occasion.
“All the credit goes to the wrestlers. We’ve got a great group of seniors and we rallied around them. We got hit really hard the last few days (with injuries), lost some guys, and Brentwood has, too. The matchups just fell our way.”
Following Shand’s loss to Walker Childs, Independence won three of the next four weight classes before running off consecutive wins at 160, 170, 182 and 195 to put the contest out of reach.
The tournament was a classic war of attrition, as all four semifinalists were nursing injuries and at less than full strength.
“Our 120 has a concussion; our 126 has a foot injury; our 160 broke his hand; we have no 285,” Brentwood coach Damon Smith said. “We came in with a bunch of Band-Aids. We knew it’d be hard. It was a winnable dual, but the ones we need to go our way went their way.
“When that happens, there’s not much you can do about it.”
Centennial, meanwhile, was without three starters as Summit won 53-20.
“Not having Ethan (Duck, senior 170-pounder, concussion) really hurt us,” Cougars coach Philip Pelkey said.