First Posted: 9/17/2014
Derek Dragon remembers being on the other side, as a participant in an elementary school wrestling tournament.
“I remember waking up at 5:00 in the morning because tournaments were always starting at 8 and we had to get there at 7,” said Dragon, who is preparing for his senior wrestling season at Lake-Lehman this winter. “I remember going to Wyalusing, tournaments at Lehman. I remember going all over.”
Now, Dragon is preparing a tournament, joining teammates Josh Sayre and Phil Hettes to organize the Mayhem on the Mats, which is scheduled for 8 a.m. on Sept. 27 at the Lake-Lehman High School gym.
Three former Black Knights – Austin Harry, Bobby Wright and Brady Butler – started Mayhem on the Mats last year as their senior project at the school. Dragon, Sayre and Hettes are continuing it, with some alterations this year as their senior project.
“I can’t say I pictured myself running a tournament, but I’ve always kind of figured that when I grew up, I will be a coach,” said Dragon, a two-time District 2 Class AA champion. “I don’t ever want to leave the sport.
“I guess I assumed I would somehow be involved in one eventually,” he continued. “Wrestling is my life. I wouldn’t know who I am without the sport.”
The tournament debuted last summer as both an elementary and high school event.
In order to keep the size of the event under control to have it fit in with Knight of Mayhem activities throughout the day at the school, this year’s Mayhem on the Mats is an elementary school competition, capped at 120 wrestlers, if necessary.
“It was a new thing last year,” Dragon said. “Wrestling is a big part of all three of our lives. We talked to the guys last year. They enjoyed running the tournament and it was a big success for our wrestling club.
“We figured we might as well make it our senior project, too.”
Dragon has been busy with the sport this fall, traveling to other high schools and college campuses to work out with other dedicated wrestlers in anticipation of the upcoming season where he will try to qualify for a return to the state individual tournament.
Sayre and Hettes have wrestling ahead, but for now they are trying to help Lake-Lehman defend its division and district football championships. Their wrestling activity comes in the form of helping put the tournament together.
Mayhem on the Mats will use an honor system to place wrestlers by approximate weight in three age groups – 8-and-under, 10-and-under and 12-and-under. Wrestlers are eligible as long as they do not have any experience competing on the junior high level.
Entries continue through Saturday, Sept. 20 by contacting Sayre (704-7541), Dragon (592-0202) or Hettes (240-5077).
Once all the entries are received, the tournament organizers will separate them into five-wrestler brackets for round-robin competition. The top three wrestlers in each bracket will receive awards.
“We have kids coming from all over,” said Sayre, who had personally processed more than two dozen entries by Monday night. “We have a lot coming from down in the Harrisburg area, from Benton, District 4 kids like Warrior Run and Wyalusing.
“There are kids from all over and entries from Wilkes-Barre, Noxen, Tunkhannock.”
Others have helped the wrestlers with the project.
Sayre said new varsity head coach J.J. Konigus will serve as one of the referees and helped arrange the others. Athletic director Jeff Shook obtained the additional scoreclocks needed. Parents of wrestlers will provide scorekeeping help at the tables.
Like other Knight of Mayhem activities, the Mayhem on the Mats will benefit the Lake-Lehman Foundation with helps with student clubs and activities.
“We knew someone was going to have to run it this year and we’ve all been friends for a long time so we figured we’d all do it together,” Hettes said. “Wrestling is one of the common bonds between us.”
Preparations for the event appear to be on schedule, according to the organizers.
“So far, I think everything is going great,” Hettes said. “We’ve gone to businesses around Dallas and plan to going around Sweet Valley for donations. That part went well.”
Dragon has won more than 30 matches each of the past two seasons. Hettes joined him in the district finals each of those two seasons. Sayre won 28 matches as a sophomore before missing last season with an injury.
They will be trying to help Lake-Lehman repeat is District 2 Class AA team tournament championship.