Class 2A regional at PTHS

Jake Lanning set a school record for pins and kept his unbeaten mark in tact after winning his two bouts en route to capturing a regional championship Saturday.
    Kevin Gschwedntner is also on track to make a return trip the state finals meet after garnering a title, and Payton Pulliam moved a step closer to the dream of reaching state with a runnerup finish at the Class 2A Pontiac Regional wrestling tournament.
    Liam Melvin and Devin Cross had shots of moving on but each lost in their respective third-place bouts. Melvin and Cross are alternates in case one of the top three placers from the Pontiac Regional are unable to compete next weekend at the Sterling Sectional.
    “I thought we wrestled pretty darn tough,” PTHS head coach Corey Christenson said. “The two champions didn’t really surprise anybody. Payton didn’t surprise us, I thought he wrestled pretty sound. Haywood is a tough dude.
    “Melvin and Devin both wrestled extremely tough. They each had a chance to win and they still have a chance (as alternates).”
    Lanning stuck Garett Rich of Washington at 3:56 in the final at 170 pounds. It was his 29th pin of the season, breaking his record of 28 set last year. Lanning tied that mark in the semifinal round with a pin at 5:02.
    As for the postseason trail, Lanning has been there before, reaching state each of this three previous seasons.
    “It only takes nine matches to win out,” Lanning said. “Two of them are done, so I just take it step by step. Winning this tournament was the start of it.”
    Lanning, who is undefeated at 37-0 is one of the best wrestlers in Pontiac’s rich history of the sport. He is also understanding of what it will take to reach his ultimate goal — a state title, which is something that had eluded him. His next step is the sectional meet.
    “I have to wrestle to my best potential, go out and have fun,” he said.
    Gschwendtner made it to state last year and is geared at making a return trip. He was nearly as dominant in winning the 160-pound title. Like Lanning, Gschwendtner had byes to the semifinal round. He scored a pin in 5:32 to advance. Then he worked for a 16-4 major decision over Washington’s Caleb Miller to win the title.
    Looking forward, Gschwendtner understands the challenges and what needs to be done. Like last week, he will have nearly a week off before competing again.
    “I just have to keep a good mindset and take it one match at a time,” he said. “It’s not really time off, we trained hard and I have a good practice partner.”
    That partner is Lanning, which could be advantageous to both seniors as they make their push.
    Pulliam has shown a cerebral approach in his effort to make it to the State Farm Center meet. He came into the regional meet as the second seed at 132 pounds. Second place is what he left with after falling to top-seed Savion Haywood of Bloomington, who will sport a 38-1 record at sectional.
    “I went into the match not expecting to win but I wanted to wrestle the best I possibly could and I knew I had a chance,” Pulliam said. “He’s ranked pretty high and the kid to beat right now. (This match) showed me where I stand and that I can compete.”
    Pulliam won by fall in his first bout and took his semifinal match with a 5-4 decision before losing to Haywood.
    Melvin lost by decision to Taylor Fickes of Limestone in the third-place bout at 220 pounds. Cross was pinned by Adam Robison at 285 pounds for third place. Melvin and Cross will weigh in at sectional with the hope being able to compete should one of the top three from Pontiac are unable to take part.