The slimmest of margins separated first from third at the middle school state wrestling tournament. In the end, the Mat Hawks fell short of winning their fourth straight middle school state championship, finishing in third place, just four points out of first place.
“We only had seven wrestlers competing,” said head coach Chad Wooden. “We had two of our starters get hurt this past week and had they been able to wrestle, we win, that easy. I was so proud of the guys as they fought as hard as they could and came so close to winning another state championship.”
The Mat Hawks pushed six of the seven wrestlers into the semi-finals: Tootie Franklin, Spencer Hines, Caleb Canter, Ramundo Perez, B.J. Carman and Nathan Bell.
Canter at the 103-pound class, Perez at the 110-pound class and Bell at heavyweight and made it to the finals.
All three wrestlers who lost their semi-finals matches won their next match and made it to the consolation finals.
“Our seven guys fought hard, real hard to not let the program down and try to earn that fourth straight state championship,” said Wooden. “I could not be prouder of any of the seven. I could not be prouder of the six who pushed into the semi finals and the ones who lost in the semis didn’t hang their heads and came back and won their next match to make it to the consolation finals.”
“We had six of the wrestlers finish in the top four in the state at their weight classes,” said Wooden. “One of the things we talk about with our wrestlers is the LaRue County wrestling tradition that so many of those who have wrestled before these guys have developed and made. These seven lived up to that tradition of sacrifice, heart and doing what was necessary to put the team in a position to win. I think you can tell I am really proud of these guys.”
Canter, Perez and Bell were state runners up in their weight classes. Hines and Carman finished in third place and Franklin in fourth place.
“High school head coach Gary Canter will enjoy getting these guys at the high school level,” said Wooden. “If this team stays together and works hard in the off season, this team will be as successful as any high school that has proceeded them and with the addition to what Gary already has at the high school level, the upcoming teams could accomplish more than all the teams before them.”