Lovelace, a senior, won the 113-pound championship as he stopped James Homfield, of Lindbergh. Then, in the heavyweight division, Skillington, a junior came up big, knocking off highly-ranked Jacobi Jackson, of De Smet Jesuit, in overtime to claim the heavyweight championship.
It was a satisfying day for the Vikings, who finished 8th with 116 points in the 40-team field.
“Both of those [wins] are big, and it was nice for Eric to kind of get back and get that revenge and confidence against a kid that’s currently ranked second in the state,” Howell coach Kevin Stroh said. “Skillington, it was the same thing, he had lost to Jackson from De Smet earlier this year and to come back, avenge that and get the confidence back, so hopefully he will see him a couple of more weekends and come out on top of those also.”
Lovelace [22-2] gave the Vikings a big early boost in the second day of the tournament as he stayed strong early and rolled to a 4-1 win over Homfeld, who had a 30-match win streak snapped with the loss.
“My coaches just told me to go out there and let it fly and that’s really when I’m at my best,” Lovelace said. “I had wrestled that kid before and he beat me at state last year. I’ve been waiting a little while to get back [at him].”
Winning a championship in the Thrasher Tournament was definitely high on Lovelace’s bucket list of senior achievements and a great way to begin the end of his senior season as a Viking.
“It’s a great tournament and one of the coolest tournaments of the year and it’s my last time wrestling in the school. I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” Lovelace said.
Howell has been very successful in dual competition in the GAC South conference in recent years.
Howell’s 2019 senior class takes a 58-6 mark into the final match of the season on Wednesday night [Jan. 30] at archrival Holt. The Vikings seniors led by Lovelace, would love nothing better than to take down the Indians and win the GAC regular season championship for the fourth straight season.
“It would mean the world because a lot of people are looking at our program this year like it’s a transition year because of the young talent we have,” Lovelace said. “To go in there and prove to everyone that we’re still Howell wrestling and tradition live here would be exciting. My guys are ready and working really hard and we’re going to go in there and compete hard every match for six minutes.”