Maize South senior Luke Moore contemplated quitting many times over the course of his wrestling career.
“All the time,” Moore said. “As a wrestler, you always have thoughts of quitting. Practices are always so rough, so it feels like your effort isn’t getting repaid in the matches.”
Moore’s willingness to stick it out paid off on Friday at Hartman Arena when he beat St. James’ Tyler Hensley 2-1 to advance to Saturday’s Class 5A finals at 152 pounds.
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Moore will face Goddard’s Kendall Frame, who won 5A at 145 pounds in 2015.
“It means so much to me,” Moore said. “It’s been a long time coming. I’ve gone all my other years of high school not even coming to state, and then I finally get there and, you know, why don’t you make some noise here?”
Moore, 36-6, had losing records his first two seasons and was 17-17 as a junior.
“He’s always had potential,” Maize South coach Matt Kerr said. “We’ve always seen it, but he never really worked hard, never applied himself. This year he came back and he got himself together.”
Kerr saw the potential in Moore years earlier. He saw the technique and knowledge of the sport.
The difference for Moore as a senior was his focus — he desperately wanted to improve.
“I feel like I’ve seen a lot of people come through that should have been placers or multiple state champs, and it’s never happened,” Moore said. “I feel like I took all their energy and put it into this tournament. That (win) was the greatest feeling ever. (Hensley) fought very hard. It was a great match all the way through.”
Moore opened the season with a close loss to El Dorado’s Reno Hughey, who won the 2015 4A title at 145 pounds.
“I thought, ‘You know, Moore might do something this year,’ ” Kerr said. “He won four tournaments this year. He didn’t win four (junior varsity) tournaments in his career.… This year it just all came together. He just did it.”
Moore won his first two matches on Friday, 9-2 and 8-4, but in his semifinal it took an overtime escape to win.
It was his choice to be on top or bottom, and Kerr figured Moore would pick top because he had struggled throughout his career on the bottom.
“I felt like he would take top at the end, ride him out,” Kerr said. “But he’s a senior, it’s his choice and he said he’d get out. He got out.”
When Moore escaped, he leaped high in the air and clapped.
“Losing is tough in anything,” Kerr said. “But in wrestling, it’s about as tough as it gets. To go from that low to this high, you don’t see it very often.”