Wrestling runs deep in Lovvorn's blood
Champions aren’t born, they’re made, though when it comes to Holton High School senior wrestler Lucas Lovvorn, the son of Mike and Kim Lovvorn of Holton, the case could be made for both schools of thought.
Already a 15-year veteran of the sport, Lovvorn seemingly had little choice whether he would get involved in wrestling. With a father, uncle, two cousins and brother who wrestled for HHS, Lovvorn’s fate seemed predetermined.
“When you’re raised around it, you just go that direction. Lucas naturally wanted to do it because when he was sitting there beside me coaching his older brother, his dream was to come up and wrestle like he did and he just kind of went into it,” said Mike Lovvorn, his dad. “He’s kind of lived in the wrestling room and we practice a lot in the house.”
“When you grow up with that, it’s kind of like a kid who grows up working on cars. That’s what he ends up doing. That’s what they know,” Mike added.
Lucas took his first “test drive,” so to speak, at the ripe young age of three and has been going strong on the wrestling mat ever since, leading up to last year’s state title run as a junior at HHS.
For all that history of wrestling in the Lovvorn family, though, no relative had ever won an individual state title, something referred to in the family as the “Lovvorn curse.” Mike came the closest, placing third in 4A in 1986, while cousin Kane and brother Drake both medaled multiple times in their careers.
While Lucas admitted that superstitious notion was in the back of his mind prior to his championship final last year, he also noted he had confidence he could break the curse having already bested his final opponent, Tonganoxie’s Asher Huseman, previously in the season.
“When I won the championship, I just looked up to my family and I was proud. I knew that’s what they wanted and that’s what I’ve always wanted ever since I started wrestling,” Lucas said.
“He brought it up immediately to me,” Mike added. “He goes, ‘dad, I got it done,’ and that was kind of a big deal, especially as a junior. For him to be ready to go back this year and do well is pretty exciting for us right now.”
While family might have been a big reason Lucas was drawn into wrestling, the intensity of the sport kept him interested and it’s his own drive that had him aiming even higher for the 2014-2015 season.
Lucas had dreams of an undefeated season that were dashed by the slimmest of margins as he lost to Maize’s Brett Moon, undefeated and the top-ranked 160-lb. wrestler in Class 6A, by a 3-1 decision in the championship final at the loaded Newton Tournament of Champions earlier this winter.
That loss has done little to derail Lucas’ aspirations of a repeat title, though, something he admitted he started thinking about right after he claimed his title at the state tournament last season.
“I knew that after I won my first title, I wanted to win my second one even more,” Lucas said. “It wasn’t more than a couple days and I was back in that room the next week after and working to get better.”
All of the accolades certainly wouldn’t come without the work and that’s something that has not been lost on Lucas. Struggling in federated wrestling while in middle school and not making the state tournament as a freshman really opened his eyes and he hasn’t been taking much time off from wrestling since.
“Success comes through hard work. Through the summers, every summer I wrestle. I don’t take much time off. Football season is pretty much the only time off,” Lucas said. “During spring sports I’m wrestling, during summer I’m wrestling, during winter I’m wrestling and a lot of my friends are there to help me, too.”
Friends like Justin Rieschick, Mason Baum and Tyler Price, who will also be eyeing their own state medals, have worked with him in the offseason, along with previous state medalists for HHS and current collegiate wrestlers Hunter Price and Jonah Lutz.
Mike Lovvorn noted those wrestlers have helped push his son to the point he’s at now and noted the summer sessions when Kane and Drake are back in Holton (both are currently wrestling at Wayland Baptist University) are similarly fruitful. Much like a pick-up basketball game breaking out, the cousins spend a lot of time working in the wrestling room and sharing tips and tricks.
HHS coach Cullen Jackson, who noted Lovvorn had one of the most dominant performances he’s seen at the regional tournament last weekend, has also been a big part of the senior wrestler’s success.
Lucas said coach Jackson’s hands-on approach in the wrestling room helped push him to a new level.
“Most coaches, they just coach. They don’t get in there and they don’t wrestle with their kids. Jackson, he gets in there and he pushes us hard,” Lucas said. “He used to be the best in the room. He used to be able to beat all of us. He’s made it to where now I can wrestle with him and some of the other wrestlers that we have in the room can wrestle with him.”
Getting to that Division I college level is the next step for Lucas, who knows a wrestling scholarship can be a steppingstone for his education and his future. It wouldn’t hurt, either, that it would be another first for a Lovvorn if he ends up wrestling at the DI level.
Before that, though, Lucas will look to add to his bragging rights as he eyes another individual state title this weekend and teammates Justin Pool, Price, Rieschick, Baum, Nathan Shields and Kegan Meister join him in that quest at the 4A state tournament at the Bicentennial Center in Salina. Wrestling will start at 10 a.m. on Friday and competition will continue at 9 a.m. on Saturday.