FRANKFORT — Joe Whalen has never had a better eight days in his life.
Last weekend the Henry Clay senior led the Blue Devils to their first region wrestling crown.
Saturday night Whalen won an individual state title at 145 pounds by beating LaRue County's Shelby Floyd 7-3 in in front of 4,270 fans in the Frankfort Civic Center.
"It's been an amazing week," he said. "We were region champions, we had three state placers here, and this state title is icing on the cake.
"It feels amazing."
It was a yearlong commitment for Whalen after he finished seventh in the state last February.
"Joe knew he could perform, so he did whatever he could to get better," Henry Clay Coach Andy Critchfield said. "He proved it to himself, and to the rest of the state, that he's the man."
Whalen made a strategic decision three weeks before the region when he dropped from 152 pounds to 145. He quickly rose to No. 1 in Kentucky at that weight, and certified it this weekend.
"I drove myself crazy this year thinking about what my opponents were doing," he said. "I was always wondering if I was doing enough. Now I know I was."
The big story in the team competition was Union County capturing its fifth state championship and denying No. 1 Trinity a three-peat.
Union County was led by Caleb Ervin, who won a third consecutive title.
Ervin's wrestling career was in doubt last April when he suffered severe burns in a spring break accident. He spent three weeks in the hospital.
"They told me I wouldn't wrestle again," he said. "But no way could I stay away. I love it too much. I knew I'd be back here and win it again."
Ervin won the Orville Williams Outstanding Wrestler Award.
Brock Ervin, Caleb's first cousin, was undefeated state champ at 112 pounds. The Braves' Jayce Carr won at 130, and Thomas Buckman upset previously unbeaten Brandon Bennett of Harrison County to win at 189.
Johnson Central junior J.J. Jude, one of the state's top running backs who'll be a Mr. Football candidate next fall, wrapped up a 52-0 season by winning the 171 class.
Does Jude like wrestling or football better?
"I love them both," he said. "If I had to say one, it's football. But winning my first state high school championship in wrestling is great."
Besides Whalen, seven other Lexington wrestlers finished in the top eight.
Lafayette's Will Bryant (119) was third; Luke Rearic (103) fourth and Jimmy Lacy (125) fifth. Henry Clay's Andrew Ogg (215) was fourth and Brenden Tuggle (152) sixth. Paul Laurence Dunbar's Tucker Lyles (171) was sixth and Bill Davis (285) seventh.