Eight years ago, Madison Central didn’t have a wrestling team. Saturday, the Indians won their first region title as they overtook Wayne County, 270-238.5, in the final 7th Region tournament standings at Henry Clay.
Wes Watts, who won a region title as the head coach at Paul Laurence Dunbar in 2007, said a lot of kids in the Richmond area wanted to wrestle, so he helped build up a youth program in the city. Without that feeder development, Watts said, Saturday’s outcome would not have been possible.
“Most of these guys were all in middle school (when Watts arrived), so they’ve been at it four or five years,” Watts said. “The good thing with this group, we’ve only got three seniors, so they’ll be back even stronger next year.”
Madison Central will lose only two of its 11 state qualifiers to graduation — Gavin Williams (170-pound division) and Dylan Mays (160-pound), both of whom won their respective weights.
Mays’ match was probably the most intense of the 14 finals. Down 12-2 in the third period to Tates Creek’s Brady Gibson, Mays was able to get out from underneath Gibson, locked his arm around Gibson’s neck, flipped the Commodore on his back and held him down long enough to get the pin.
Watts said Mays calls that maneuver “The Assassin.”
“When I was on my back, the only thing I could think of was, ‘I gotta get off,’” said Mays, who had lost twice before to Gibson. “When I got on my feet, I knew I could do it. You just gotta have faith in yourself, even if you’re down in points. It doesn’t matter until the time runs out.”
Lexington sends 15 to state
Gibson was one of four state qualifiers from Tates Creek, which won the city championship last week. Commodores Coach Zach Damon wasn’t thrilled with how Gibson’s match finished from an officiating perspective but thinks his star will bounce back next weekend at the state tournament.
“In basketball you take a loss and it’s upsetting, but this is hand to hand and that loss, until you’ve actually wrestled and experienced it, it feels a lot different. … It’s grueling,” Damon said. “ … The two seed for him is not a big deal. I think he’s got it in him for sure to place at state if he wrestles the way he can wrestle.”
Henry Clay, which finished third in the team standings, led Lexington teams with five state qualifiers. Ray-Karl Irving, Christian Shelby and Tyler Storck all picked up their first individual regional titles for the Blue Devils; Hayden Sheroan and Nathan Ainslie also qualified from Henry Clay.
Shelby, seeded third in the 152-pound bracket, upset Madison Central’s Daniel Baker — ranked 10th in the state by KentuckyWrestling.com entering the week — in the finals. He won by pin and was jubilant following the victory, in part because he didn’t realize what he’d accomplished before hearing the official smack the mat.
“I looked up and there were like three seconds left and I thought (the ref) was calling us to break up because the period was close to ending,” Shelby said. “It was shocking.”
Lafayette’s Justin Torgerson and Kevin Vasquez won the 138-pound and 145-pound titles, respectively, and will represent the Generals at state along with Mason Boggs. Bryan Station also will send two wrestlers to state, Brandon Fields and Brandon Vera. Andres Calleja was the sole state qualifier from Paul Laurence Dunbar.
Cagen Wallace was one of two individual champions from Wayne County. The junior Cardinal, the top-ranked wrestler in his weight class, defeated Madison Central’s Zach Cowan in the 113-pound finals to improve to 52-0 on the year.
Friday-Saturday in Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park
7th Region Wrestling results
(Top four individuals advance to state tournament)
Teams—1. Madison Central 270, 2. Wayne County 238.5, 3. Henry Clay 139.5, 4. Tates Creek 127, t5. Boyle County 113, t5. Lafayette 113, 7. Danville 112, 8. McCreary Central 110, 9. Madison Southern 100, 10. Whitley County 99, 11. Bryan Station 46, 12. West Jessamine 38, 13. Paul Laurence Dunbar 35.5, 14. East Jessamine 18
106—1. Thomas Deck, Madison Central; 2. Mauro Lopez, Wayne County; 3. Andres Calleja, Paul Laurence Dunbar, 4. Hayden Sheroan, Henry Clay
113—1. Cagen Wallace, Wayne County; 2. Zach Cowan, Madison Central; 3. Morgan Sallee, Danville; 4. Nathan Ainslie, Henry Clay
120—1. Tyler Storck, Henry Clay; 2. Jordan Bates, Boyle County; 3. Cauy Wallace, Wayne County; 4. Michael Stephens, Whitley County
126—1. Gentry Deck, Madison Central; 2. Jacob Dodd, Wayne County; 3. Jacob Robbins, Boyle County; 4. Payton Watson, Whitley County
132—1. Jonathan Shepherd, Wayne County; 2. Derrick Witmer, Boyle County; 3. Will Kenney, Madison Central; 4. Zachary Morgan, Tates Creek
138—1. Justin Torgerson, Lafayette; 2. JD Criswell, Wayne County; 3. Joey Stuart, Madison Central; 4. Hayden Shepherd, Boyle County
145—1. Kevin Vasquez, Lafayette; 2. Ryan McManus, Madison Central; 3. Garren Moody, Danville; 4. Logan Bertrand, Madison Southern
152—1. Christian Shelby, Henry Clay; 2. Daniel Baker, Madison Central; 3. Myles Harris, Tates Creek; 4. Jose Miduel, Wayne County
160—1. Dylan Mays, Madison Central; 2. Brady Gibson, Tates Creek; 3. Ryan Strunk, McCreary Central; 4. Ty Ezel, Madison Southern
170—1. Gavin Williams, Madison Central; 2. Nathan Prosser, McCreary Central; 3. Johnathon Todd, Madison Southern; 4. Eric Bloh, Danville
182—1. Don Harris, Danville; 2. Zade Hawkins, Madison Central; 3. Stuart Benson, Tates Creek; 4. Brandon Fields, Bryan Station
195—1. Ray-Karl Irving, Henry Clay; 2. Brandon Vera, Bryan Station; 3. Justin Gray, West Jessamine; 4. Michael Walker, Whitley County
220—1. Jonathan Gregory, Wayne County; 2. Seth Anderson, McCreary Central; 3. Mason Boggs, Lafayette; 4. Jordan Aikhary, Madison Central
285—1. Justus Williams, Madison Southern; 2. Christian Denney, Wayne County; 3. Jonah Welch, Danville; 4. Marcelo Sierra, Tates Creek