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Last year the LaRue County High School mat Hawks fell a few points short of winning their 10th regional championship in as many years. This year, the goal before the present wrestling team from day one’s practice, was to return to the top spot on the podium as a team at the regional level. On Saturday, starting at 10:30 a.m. at Fort Knox high school, the team will try to accomplish that goal.
“At the beginning of the season, we set specific goals for this team and winning the regional tournament was at the top of the list,” said head coach Gary Canter. “Right now John Hardin is the defending regional champions and they are going to be hard to dethrone, but if we wrestle at our best, we can accomplish this goal.”
Everything going into the regional tournament would indicate a close race on Saturday. Five Mat Hawks have been seeded number one in the tournament – freshman Nick Paden at 103; senior J.T. Thompson at 112, senior Des Jakes at 152; freshman Bernard Ray at 160; and freshman Drew Newberry at 215.
John Hardin also has five wrestlers seeded number one.
LaRue County is ranked fifth in the state, and John Hardin is ranked sixth in the state.
Three of the Mat Hawks have received first round byes which mean that at those weight classes, the team won’t be able to pick up highly valued bonus points.
Three of John Hardin’s wrestlers have received first round byes.
Both teams have unseeded wrestlers in two weight classes.
The difference in the regional tournament is probably going to be who gets those bonus points. A bonus point is earned when a wrestler is able to score a major decision, technical pin or pin in a match.
“It is about as close to a race on paper that you can get,” said Canter. “Assistant coach (Eddie) Paden has scored the regional tournament and not included any ‘bonus’ points in figuring the final score and he has come up with only four points separating first from second.”
“Every point is going to be important. Not giving up bonus points when we face a John Hardin wrestler is going to be big,” he added. “Scoring bonus points when we can is going to be huge, and a wrestler who is not supposed to win finding a way to score a win could cause one team to win a regional championship and one to lose it.”
Over the past 11 years, the Mat Hawks have not finished any lower than regional runners up, while winning nine regional championships during that time.