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Ottawa junior Cyrano Rayfield (left) wrestles Litchfield’s Cole Werner during a semifinal match Saturday at the Lyle King Princeton Invitational Tournament. Rayfield beat Werner 3-1 to advance to the title match where he lost 4-2 to Plano 's Derrick Maisonet. NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
As one of nine state-ranked wrestlers competing in the 220-pound weight class at Saturday’s 50th Annual Lyle King Princeton Invitational Tournament, the Ottawa junior knew bettering his fourth-place finish from last year would be difficult, possibly unlikely.
Turns out, he did better than he hoped.
Rayfield upset the weight’s unbeaten No. 2 seed in the quarterfinals and the unbeaten No. 3 seed in the semifinals en route to finishing second in one of the tournament’s deepest weights.
“I told coach that I was surprised I got this far,” Rayfield said. “Last year I got fourth, and I knew there was a lot better competition (at the weight) this year than last year. I am pretty sure any wrestler would say they’re not happy to finish second, but I am grateful that I did.”
Rayfield’s runner-up performance highlighted an all-around solid showing for the Pirates.
Ottawa 195-pound junior Alex Fuentes and 285-pound junior Seth Taulbee both placed fourth, while 138-pound sophomore Daniel Close finished fifth and 130-pound junior Devon Jones took eighth.
All the top finishes helped the Pirates finish 10th in the 31-team field.
“This is great,” Fuentes said. “The last few years we haven’t been as strong, and when all of us juniors were freshmen we were on varsity and got our butts kicked. Now, the experience has paid off and the program is getting really strong.”
After Rayfield earned a pin in just 25 seconds on Friday night, he pinned Alleman’s Ben West at 1:15 in Saturday’s quarterfinal.
In the semifinals against Litchfield’s Cole Werner, Rayfield used a second-period escape and takedown to take a lead, which he didn’t give up en route to a 3-1 decision.
In the finals against Plano’s Derrick Maisonet, Rayfield scored a second-period escape to take a 1-0 lead heading to the third period.
He held the advantage until Maisonet reversed the advantage with 57 seconds left in the match to take a 2-1 lead.
On the edge of the mat, Rayfield escaped Maisonet’s control and fell on top of him for the reversal with 35.6 seconds to go.
However, before he completed his reversal, both wrestlers were called for being out of bounds, and Rayfield received just one point for an escape instead of two points for a reversal.
Back at neutral, Maisonet caught Rayfield’s leg and took him down with five seconds left to secure the 4-2 decision.
“It was a tough way to end, but we’ll learn from it,” Ottawa coach Peter Marx said. “The kid beat us to position a couple of times and he outmaneuvered us. Cyrano knows he made a mistake.”
Like Rayfield, Taulbee won his quarterfinal match to advance to the semifinals, where he lost by fall at 4:22.
In his third-place match, he was tied at 1-1 with less than a minute left but was taken down with 56 seconds to go and lost by a 3-1 decision.
Fuentes fell in his quarterfinal Saturday but won three straight matches to wrestle for third.
However, he fell by a 5-3 decision in the third-place match to finish fourth.
Close dropped his quarterfinal match but ultimately rebounded with an 11-2 major decision in his final match to finish fifth.
Jones also lost his quarterfinal match Saturday but bounced back with a 5-2 decision in his next match.
He lost his final two matches to finish eighth.
While Ottawa finished 10th, a young Princeton team struggled.
The Tigers finished 30th as a team and 152-pound sophomore Drew Pranka — Princeton’s lone quarterfinalist — lost both of his matches Saturday and did not place.
“It’s a learning experience,” PHS coach Steve Amy said. “This whole thing is about getting ready for regionals, seeing this type of competition at the sectional and hopefully the state tournament.”
Note: Dakota finished with 190 team points to win the PIT. Wilmington was second with 171.5 points and Mercer County was third with 166.5.
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.
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