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Wrestling for redemption after a yearlong suspension

Dillon Wildin has returned to prove he is the best wrestler in Kansas

Staff writer

Dillon Wildin pinned his first two opponents of 2009-10 season less than two minutes into each match on Thursday in Lyons.

It seemed even quicker than that. The referee backed away from the two wrestlers in each case and suddenly Wildin had slammed his competitor to the floor and was lying on top of his opponent’s shoulders.

It was almost as if Wildin was punishing Evan Barber of Lyons and Xavier Lyon of Nickerson for standing in his way.

In a way Barber, Lyon, and the rest of the wrestlers he will face in the 145-pound weight class are the last people Wildin has to punish. He has already effectively reprimanded himself for his off-the-mat indiscretions that held him out of the 2008-09 wrestling season. Wildin was ranked as the No. 1 wrestler in his weight class in 3A before the season started, but he was forced to sit out the season. Wildin was accused of violating school policy.

Wildin watched — in equal parts anguish and pride — as his twin brother, Cody, rose in the 140-pound ranks to take second at state. Dillon languished on the sidelines and feels disrespected by the praise that Osborne’s Trevor Oliver is receiving as the best 145-pound 3A wrestler in the state. In Wildin’s mind, Oliver hasn’t earned that distinction because he hasn’t wrestled Wildin.

Wildin is determined to reclaim the top spot in the 145-pound rankings in 3A and win a state title.

Cody and Dillon worked all summer on their speed and conditioning. They developed their quickness by putting a shoe in the middle of a mat and continuously sprinting back and forth trying to touch it. Dillon has committed himself to running even during the season; he wakes up at 5 a.m. every day to run before school. The twins will face off against each other to continue to develop their skills throughout the year.

“We’ve wrestled for 10 years,” Dillon said. “We have the feeling of winning and the feeling of losing. Me and my twin, we had to earn what we have.”

Dillon and Cody started wrestling in the first grade and Dillon said that he would get pinned in almost every match when he first started. In middle school, when Cody played basketball, Dillon, with the permission of Marion Athletic Director Tod Gordon, started wrestling against the high school team. Dillon said that the experience of wrestling against high school competition at a young age helped him become the wrestler he is today.

“Mr. Gordon was hesitant to let me do it at first,” Dillon said. “But he started to see me getting better and better.”

Dillon said that he and Cody regularly wrestle competitors who outweigh them by as much as 20 or 30 pounds in the off-season.

Against Lyons and Nickerson, both Cody and Dillon attacked their opponents aggressively, quickly dropping themselves under their competitor’s arms and striking the other wrestler’s legs.

Dillon and Cody both have an air of confidence about them that Dillon said comes from facing bigger wrestlers; they never flinch or hesitate in the face of opposition.

“We’ve beat up a bunch of guys who are monsters compared to us,” Dillon said.

On Thursday, the Wildin brothers both went undefeated — Cody pinned Travis Deiner of Lyons and Jordan Newton of Nickerson — but the team was not as lucky: the Warriors lost to Lyons, 42-39. The younger Marion wrestlers, who wrestle at lower weight classes, struggled in their first matches against Lyons. Dillon said that the first varsity-wrestling match is always the toughest.

“We’re young,” Dillon said. “It’s a lot more intense than middle school.”

Dillon also expounded on the energy a wrestler exudes in a six-minute wrestling match.

“I roofed houses throughout the summer,” he said. “Five, 10-hour days of work on a roof equals one six-minute wrestling match.”

But the team rebounded against Nickerson, winning 72-12. Nickerson only won one match by pin against the Warriors while the Warriors pinned seven Panthers.

“We wrestled well in this dual,” Marion head coach Chad Adkins said. “Our young kids had a match under their belt and picked up some wins.”

Last modified Dec. 10, 2009

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