Grabbing the Lyon’s share of wins
January 29, 2009
Just like military children whose family’s reassignment to Europe leaves them agonizingly uncertain of their athletic future, Chris Lyon arrived in Belgium before the start of his junior year entirely clueless about continuing his favorite sports.
Lyon, with 60 high school wrestling victories already under his belt, enrolled in St. John’s International School of Waterloo, Belgium, in the summer of 2007 only to discover that the school had no wrestling team. Victory No. 61 looked a long way off, let alone the 103rd win he picked up last Saturday.
"It was kind of disappointing because of sports," Lyon said about his reaction to the news that his father had been transferred by his employer, Dow-Corning, to Brussels. "I did the pole vault and wrestled, and found out there was no wrestling team at St. John’s and no pole vaulting in Europe."
Lyon, 17, couldn’t do anything about the pole vault, but he and his family did plenty about the lack of wrestling. He, brother Matt and mother Gloria formed a St. John’s Lions wrestling team populated at first entirely by Lyons — Chris and Matt as future DODDS-Europe champions and Gloria as their coach — and joined in DODDS-Europe’s wrestling schedule as one of the continent’s smallest teams.
"The first half of the year, it was just me and Matt," Chris said Monday by telephone. "Then a couple of friends came out. It was pretty fun, getting an opportunity to train them. You get to confirm what you know."
The Lyons ended their first European season on the championship step of the awards podium at Europeans, Chris at 26-0 at 135 pounds and Matt at 26-0 at 145.
This season, Chris and Matt, two-thirds of Gloria Lyon’s triplet boys, are each 17-0. The third triplet, Danny, is unable to wrestle because of a heart condition, Chris said. "He comes along with us and keeps stats."
Matt collected his 96th career victory last week, and has a shot at his 100th this Saturday at AFNORTH high school. The brothers will attempt to defend their European titles Feb. 13-14 at Wiesbaden Army Airfield.
Chris collected his European title at that same venue last February and ranks it among the two most memorable of his career.
"The favorite match I ever wrestled," he said, "was my freshman year. I beat a senior who was 38-7 or something. I pinned him."
Next comes that European gold medal, earned with an 8-0 nod over AFNORTH’s Konnor Higgins.
"I probably wouldn’t have won state if I had stayed in Michigan," he said, "so that was pretty awesome."
Wiesbaden coach Steve Jewell, whose star freshman Michael Spencer fell to Matt Lyon in the 145-pound title bout, sees the Lyons as impact figures over here.
"Chris is deceptively strong and a great technician," he wrote in an e-mail Tuesday. "He carries himself in a very low-key way, but when he gets on the mat, he turns it on. Both he and his brother have helped raise the level of DODDS wrestling these past two years."
And the bar’s apt to go higher this year.
"Last year, I had my mom as a coach," Chris said. "This year, Lt. Col. Ron Battersby is coaching us. He wrestled in college in Arizona and placed fourth in the NCAAs, Division II, I think. He’s been a huge help. He’s pushing me a lot harder, and my stamina’s a lot better."
Chris, who plans on confining himself to club wrestling next year in college, says he’s satisfied with the European turn his career took.
"It would’ve been nice to wrestle in Michigan," he said, "but Matt and my coach give me good competition. And there are some good guys over here, too."