The LaRue County Mat Hawks took second place in the small school division and fourth place overall at the 2012 KHSAA State Wrestling Tournament held Friday and Saturday in Lexington.
Senior Bernard Ray was a state champion. The Mat Hawks had two state runners-up and five other state placers.
“It was a good weekend. We didn’t finish where we wanted, but the boys wrestled well,” said head coach Gary Canter. “We set several school records along the way again this weekend for the state tournament which is an indication of how well we wrestled overall.”
The Mat Hawks had three finalists which sets a school record. On Saturday morning, the Hawks still had eight wrestlers in the quarterfinals, a school record, and the team was able to push six into the semi-finals, which is also a school record. Overall, the Mat Hawks brought home eight individual medals, another school record.
“We went to this tournament with all the kids who have wrestled all their lives for LaRue County, their home county,” said Canter. “The three teams in front of us can’t say the same thing. I am proud of what we have accomplished this year and this past weekend. We did it the right way.”
Ray dominated his opposition in the 182-pound weight class along the way leaving no doubt he was the class of that weight class in the state of Kentucky. “Bernard is a such a great athlete who has a good knowledge of wrestling,” said Canter. “When you put those two attributes together, he is hard to beat and has been hard to beat his entire career.”
Senior Nick Paden was runner-up at the 120-pound weight class.
“Nick has had two dominating weeks wrestling,” said Canter. “He didn’t have a single offensive point scored on him until the finals. It was nice to see him final; he, like many of these seniors, have had a tremendous career and given their all for the community and schools.”
Drew Newberry at the 220-pound weight class came home as the state runner up in his weight class.
“For such a big guy he is so athletic and so strong. He has been wrestling for LaRue County since his first grade,” said Canter. “In the big matches, he has always come through for us and he will be highly missed next year. He is a great leader.”
Two wrestlers took third place in their weight classes: Senior Shawn Hull at 160 and junior B.J. Carman at 195.
“Shawn had a very tough semi-final match,” said Canter. “He is such an incredible athlete with great wrestling ability. He just had an off match at a bad time. If he and the kid he lost to wrestle 10 times, I really believe Shawn would win seven out of 10 times. I was extremely proud of him to see him wrestle back to get third. He showed a lot of character and heart. It just shows what kind of young man he is.”
“B.J. too had an off match in his semi-final match,” said Canter. “He has turned into a great wrestler and has one more year left. I really believe we will see him in the finals next year and quite possibly the state champion at his weight class. It is good for the team to get a quality wrestler like him back again.”
Junior Caleb Canter took fifth place at the 170-pound weight class.
“Caleb had what can only be described as a horrible draw. He had the second ranked kid in the quarterfinals, which he beat and then had the number one ranked kid in the semi-finals. He came up short, one point, and showed all heart in both of those matches. He just ran out of steam or would have finished higher, much higher.”
Raymundo Perez took sixth place for the Hawks at the 132-pound weight class. “Raymundo would have finished higher as well at this tournament except he had so many tough matches on Saturday,” said Canter. “He lost in the quarter-finals match to the number two kid in the state and dropped and had to wrestle four more times against top 10 kids. He just ran out of steam, but wrestled his butt off along the way.”
Junior Kyle Edlin took seventh place for the Hawks at the 106-pound weight class. “Kyle wrestled well,” said Canter. “He is going to be relied on next year to really step to the plate for this team since we are losing so many seniors. I have all the confidence in the world that Kyle will get into the weight room and improve himself. If he does that, I see a much higher finish for him next year at the state tournament.”
“We are going to miss this graduating group of seniors,” said Canter. “I have watched this group of kids grow up as they have represented LaRue County since their elementary school years. This is a special group of kids who have amazing wrestling talent and ability.”