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WRESTLING: Mat Hawks chase the 'missing link'

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By Eddie Paden

The resume of the returning wrestlers on the present LaRue County High School wrestling team is impressive. This team has accomplished just about everything a team can accomplish in high school sports. But the team is unsatisfied and looking to add the last missing link to the long list of accomplishments it has achieved.

The missing link?  A KHSAA state tournament championship. 

“That is our goal,” said head coach Gary Canter. “This year our entire emphasis is on that last tournament we will wrestle in. That tournament will start on Feb. 17 and every one of our wrestlers is looking forward to that start date.” 

This team looks like it has all the pieces to accomplish that last goal as well.  The Mat Hawks are the preseason number one ranked team in the state. The team returns 12 of their 14 starters. Seven of the returners, half the team, are returning state placers. Ten of the present Mat Hawks are ranked in the top 10 in the state at their weight class. This team is also the defending dual state champions.

“Staying healthy,” said Canter. “That is the key to this season. If we are healthy heading into the state tournament, I will be happy.”

Canter believes had his team been healthy last year, they would have left Frankfort with a title. 

“Had Drew (Newberry) been healthy last year, I have no doubt we would have won it all,” said Canter. “With his points last year, we win. It is that easy. Same could have been said in 2006 when we had Matt Miller break his finger and not be able to compete at the state tournament that season. Staying healthy is the key this year as in years past.”      

This present team has basically been together since elementary school. Over the years, most of the core members of the team have traveled together, wrestling teams from numerous different states and they have won countless tournaments and titles.

“We had this junior Hawk's team when most of us where in elementary school,” said the Hawk's 126-pound wrestler Nick Paden. “We traveled all over the state and into Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio wrestling other middle school and elementary school kids. We are just not teammates, but best friends.”

“This is without a doubt, the most experienced team I have ever had,” said Canter. “In years past with this group of kids it was that we just weren't that physically mature overall, but they are now young men and have hit the weight room hard and so this team is physically capable and experienced and ready to make a run at that last remaining elusive accomplishment,” said Canter.

The Mat Hawks will start the season at Oldham County super duals on Dec. 3 where the team could face the seventh ranked team in the state – Oldham County. 

“It will be a long season,” said Canter. “Much could happen between now and Feb. 17. But if we stay healthy, I like our chances, I like them a lot.”

Ninety-three days until Feb. 17.