OTTUMWA – Treavor Summers was down on the mat, struggling to stay off his back with his arm being wrenched behind him.
“It just felt like my shoulder was tearing away from me,” Summers said. “It hurt so bad.”
Seconds later, the feeling of pain turned to euphoria for the Ottumwa sophomore. Jermaine Sammler, Waukee’s 10th-ranked junior at 160 pounds, could not overcome an 8-0 deficit as Summers found a way to keep both shoulders off the mat in the final 10 seconds to clinch a 13-11 upset on Thursday.
“I just knew I couldn’t go to my back. If I went to my back, I would have lost that match,” Summers said. “I was on my hip and my arm was completely behind my back. I was just throwing my opposite shoulder that was in the air as hard as I could towards the ground. I also let me arm relax as much as it needed to so it could go as far back as it needed to without turning me over.”
The biggest, and by far toughest win of his high school career was just the first of two matches for Summers in Ottumwa’s first foray into CIML wrestling competition on Thursday. The Bulldog sophomore would go the distance once more against Dowling’s Max Derry to secure a 7-3 victory, giving Summers a 4-0 record to open what could be a very promising second varsity season.
“It feels way better to win a match against someone that’s ranked in the top 10,” Summers said. “I feel way more confident continuing the rest of the season. It feels way better knowing that I can compete with some of the best opponents at my weight.”
Ottumwa head coach Jeremy Frueh also felt better about his team despite suffering two losses on Thursday inside the OHS wood gymnasium. Waukee, the seventh-ranked team in Class 3A according to The Predicament, scored a pair of wins topping Dowling Catholic 45-16 before polishing off a 63-9 victory over the Bulldogs.
The Maroons secured a split, beating Ottumwa 61-15 in the third and final varsity dual of the night. It was a much different, much more aggressive OHS wrestling team that took the mat on Thursday compared to the squad that dropped duals to Davis County and Pekin two nights earlier to open the season.
“It was a night and day difference in terms of the way we competed,” Frueh said. “Even the kids that were losing were only losing by a point or two. It looked like a different team both in the varsity and junior varsity matches. I’m excited to get back into the wrestling room for practice. So are the kids. They can feel that they can compete even more. We just have to have that type of effort all the time.”
Chris Luedtke set the tone for the night, opening the dual against Waukee by securing his first win of the season. Luedtke took down Tanner Smith and locked in a fall midway through the third period, setting off a huge celebration on the Bulldog bench.
“You never want to lose a dual, but at the end of the day it’s about a bigger picture,” Frueh said. “If you’re taking strides in the right direction, that’s what you look for out of your team. We could have come out flat after Tuesday and kind of plateaued for the week. That’s not the case. We took a step up. Now, it’s about taking another one and another one after that.”
Waukee secured the next five wins to open a 30-6 lead. Sammler, coming off a 5-3 win earlier in the night against Derry, was looking to make it six straight wins.
Summers was ready for the challenge, scoring the first takedown on the way to building an 8-0 lead after one period. Sammler had to fight out of a front face lock early in the second period just to earn an escape and his first point of the match.
“I knew coming into this week, seeing the rankings, I knew what to expect with Sammler,” Summers said. “I knew I was going to have to work my hardest this week in practice to be prepared for this match.”
In the end, Summers had his hand raised while Sammler stormed off the mat disappointed. It’s a sight that Frueh hopes to see many more times over the next two-plus years.
“The thing is that match didn’t even have to be that close in the end,” Frueh said. “Treavor is that good. If he could wrestle three periods like he did in the first, he could have blown that kid out of the water. Treavor just has to go six minutes like that and do some things outside of the practice room to get to that point, but the sky is the limit with him.”
Ottumwa (1-4) will head to Burlington for the first weekend tournament of the season. Summers, for one, hopes to continue finding success away from home with huge goals in mind for the 2019-20 season.
“My goal is to go undefeated this year,” Summers said. “I want to beat anybody that steps in front of me on the mat.”