Since winning back-to-back city wrestling titles in 2009 and 2010, Tates Creek had walked away from Lexington’s annual gathering of public schools without first-place hardware. The Commodores convincingly ended that drought, defeating second-place Lafayette 203-162.5 in the final standings Saturday afternoon at Henry Clay.
Tates Creek sent 10 wrestlers to the finals and came away with five winners. Marcelo Sierra, a junior, capped off the Commodores’ big day by pinning Lafayette’s Ian Sexton in the second round of the 285-pound finals.
“I felt pretty confident,” Sierra said of his mental state heading into the match. Last year, Sierra was more concerned about losing and maintaining weight after dropping 50 pounds just to get eligible for the heavyweight class. He fell to eventual state champion Landon Young, now at the University of Kentucky, in the city finals a year ago.
This season has been more stress-free.
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“I was able to eat the night before and was able to actually eat throughout the week,” Sierra said with a grin. “It’s really been more focus on technique and cardio this year instead of dropping weight.”
Lexington’s city meet often serves as a final tune-up for the 7th Region Tournament, which takes place next weekend at Henry Clay. Tates Creek Coach Zach Daman said it was a big deal for his team to have a win fresh on its mind.
“We’ve had some injuries and sicknesses,” Daman said. “It’s been a really hard fight. The team really came together this week and has overcome a lot to get to where we are now. I’m just really proud of all these kids.”
In addition to Sierra, Kevin Ensor (120 pound), Zack Morgan (132), Brady Gibson (160) and Stuart Branson (182) picked up wins for Tates Creek on Saturday.
“We set this as the first goal and haven’t even looked at that goal yet,” Daman said of taking on the regional next week. “We’ll get in there and work harder this week and see where we can go there.”
Blue Devils get most wins
Henry Clay, last year’s team champion, finished third overall but had the most individual champions with six. Will Lawson, a senior wrestling for the first time this season, was among those victors.
No winner on Saturday displayed more emotion after finishing his match than Lawson, who pinned Tates Creek’s Garrett Belcher in the 170-pound finals, raised his fists to the sky and fought back tears as he walked off the mat.
“It’s awesome. I never thought I would get this far,” said Lawson, a native of Senegal whose family moved to Lexington 10 years ago. “My coaches keep pushing me and I keep wrestling. I’m so thankful for them, honestly.”
Lawson gave ample credit to his teammates, too, particularly Ray-Karl Irving, who won the 195-pound finals. Irving, a state runner-up last season, is Lawson’s sparring partner in practice.
“It really is tough, but it’s actually fun because you learn a lot more even when you’re at a disadvantage,” Lawson said of going up against Irving. “Thanks to him, I’ve learned how to counter my opponents’ moves and I know how to defend myself better.”
Fayette County Wrestling Championships
Teams—1. Tates Creek 203, 2. Lafayette 162.5, 3. Henry Clay 147, 4. Bryan Station 110, 5. Paul Laurence Dunbar
106—1. Haydon Sheroan, Henry Clay; 2. Andres Calleja, Dunbar; 3. Thomas Haggen, Lafayette; 4. Brandon Bruner, Bryan Station
113—1. Nathan Ainslie, Henry Clay; 2. Ross Hackenberry, Tates Creek; 3. Kevin Quevedo, Bryan Station; 4. Charlie Habash, Dunbar
120—1. Kevin Ensor, Tates Creek; 2. Stilian Marinov, Henry Clay
126—1. Tyler Stork, Henry Clay; 2. Justin Chavez, Lafayette; 3. Bryson Fields, Bryan Station; 4. Tony Guerrero, Henry Clay
132—1. Zack Morgan, Tates Creek; 2. Allan Friend, Dunbar; 3. Alex Chavez, Lafayette; 4. Jaylin Harris, Henry Clay
138—1. Justin Torgerson, Lafayette; 2. Alex Spaulding, Dunbar; 3. Jason Lowe, Bryan Station
145—1. Kevin Vasquez, Lafayette; 2. Odeh Eqal, Tates Creek; 3. Fernando Munoz, Bryan Station; 4. Caleb Bowling, Dunbar
152—1. Christian Shelby, Henry Clay; 2. Myles Harris, Tates Creek; 3. Billy Norman, Tates Creek; 4. Clark Gookin, Lafayette
160—1. Brady Gibson, Tates Creek; 2. Noah Rhode, Lafayette; 3. Jack Burton, Dunbar; 4. Peyton King, Bryan Station
170—1. Will Lawson, Henry Clay; 2. Garrett Belcher, Tates Creek; 3. Dorayquan Garrison, Lafayette; 4. Brandon Ferguson, Bryan Station
182—1. Stuart Brandon, Tates Creek; 2. Brandon Fields, Bryan Station
195—1. Ray-Karl Irving, Henry Clay; 2. Brandon Vera, Bryan Station; 3. Gabe Francis, Tates Creek; 4. Will Marshall, Lafayette
220—1. Mason Boggs, Lafayette; 2. Angel Martinez, Tates Creek; 3. Noel Martinez, Bryan Station; 4. Evan Searce, Dunbar
285—1. Marcelo Sierra, Tates Creek; 2. Ian Sexton, Lafayette; 3. Giovanni Watson, Bryan Station