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It was the 12th regional title in 14 years for the LaRue County Mat Hawks and the third in a row.
Regional records fell and were tied on Saturday in Danville as LaRue’s grapplers won the Region 2 title by more than 70 points. They had eight regional champions which tied a regional record, went undefeated in their championship matches, which tied another regional record and had one Mat Hawk – senior Nick Paden – win his fifth consecutive regional championship tying another regional record.
“It was a good weekend,” said head coach Gary Canter. “I was looking for more, but overall, we wrestled well. After looking at the draws for the state tournament, we got several good ones, and one or two bad ones, but if we show up on Friday and Saturday, I like our chances.”
The Mat Hawks placed eight into the regional finals and walked away with eight champions. They were: Kyle Edlin at 106, Paden at 120, Raymundo Perez at 132, Shawn Hull at 160, Caleb Canter at 170, Bernard Ray at 182, BJ Carman at 185 and Drew Newberry at 220.
Twelve Mat Hawks will compete at the two-day State Tournament starting on Friday at the Lexington Horse Park. The other wrestlers who qualified for the tournament are: Tanner Mouser at 113 who took 4th; Dylan West at 126 who took 3rd; Mason Ray at 145 who took 4th, and Eli Meredith at heavyweight who took 4th place.
“We were quite dominating in the finals,” said Canter. “Our guys looked strong and very impressive. There was no doubt they were the best in our region on Saturday. Now we have to carry that dominating performance over to this upcoming weekend.”
The draws are out for the state tournament as are the final state rankings. The Mat Hawks keep the top spot for the final week of the season, but that matters little as the matter as who is the best in the state will be decided on the mat starting Friday.
Nick Paden ended his regional career on Saturday by being voted as the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the regional tournament. Paden has been a starter for the Mat Hawks since eighth grade and has never lost to a regional opponent in the regular or post season.
“Nick has had a great career as has Drew (Newberry), Shawn (Hull), Bernard (Ray) and all the seniors,” said Canter. “I am wanting to send them out with what they deserve and if they will keep wrestling on Friday and Saturday like they did this past Saturday, we have a chance to send them all out on top.
“It is now in their hands. Not much more I or coach Paden can do for them. I hope our community will show up this weekend and support them. This group of seniors has given to the community and school system so much over their careers. More than many know. I just hope the community and the school system will give back to them. I hope the seats are full at the Horse Park,” said Canter.
Wrestling will start at 10 a.m. Friday at the Lexington Horse Park, Alltech Arena.
Entering Lexington from Bluegrass Parkway. Turn right on US-60/Versailles Road and travel eastbound for 1.5 miles. Take the ramp onto KY-4 N/New Circle Road and travel 4.1 miles north/eastbound. Take exit 8 for US-25/Georgetown Road and turn left onto Georgetown Road and travel northbound towards Georgetown for 5.5 miles. At the stoplight, turn right onto Iron Works Pike (1973). The park’s main entrance will be on the left in 1.2 miles.