Landon Young and Angel Vasquez both got into wrestling three years ago when they were seventh-graders, but they took to the mat for different reasons.
Young wanted to try every sport he could, and because his dad wrestled for Lafayette in the early 1980s, Landon was eager to give it a whirl.
"I liked it right away, and did fairly well right away," he said.
Vasquez, on the other hand, had an ulterior motive.
"My dad said he'd buy me a laptop if I did a sport, so I chose wrestling," he said.
"There was doubt in my mind about it at first, but my body started adapting and I started to like it.
"It turned out to be a good choice. And I got my laptop."
Vasquez and Young, now Lafayette freshmen, got something else last Saturday: regional titles. Vasquez won at 126 pounds, and Young prevailed at heavyweight.
They both advance to the 50th KHSAA state wrestling tournament at the Kentucky Horse Park's Alltech Arena on Friday and Saturday.
Henry Clay junior Mike Whalen, who won the state at 106 pounds last year, will be back at Alltech Arena as regional champ at 120 pounds.
Whalen is a grizzled veteran compared to Vasquez and Young, who are just starting to realize their potential.
Lafayette Coach William Green describes both as "fighters. They don't back up. And they're willing to listen and learn."
Vasquez, whose brother Rafael wrestled for the Generals a couple of years ago, said he was "just focusing on getting big moves last year.
"But this year my technique has improved a lot, and so has my strength and conditioning. And I have a lot more confidence."
Young is not a typical heavyweight. At 6-foot-7, 240 pounds, he's taller and leaner than most of his opponents, who are usually closer to the maximum weight of 285.
"Being a lighter heavyweight gives me a little more speed and agility," he said. "Not so much strength, so I need to be able to out-quick other heavyweights."
Young started at defensive end for Lafayette's football team, and he thinks the two sports complement each other in his development.
"Football helps me with getting in there and tackling and being aggressive against the guy I'm wrestling.
"And wrestling helps me be more explosive and have good footwork for football."
While Young and Vasquez have three more years of wrestling ahead of them, Green is pushing them to seize the moment.
"I try to instill in them to take the here-and-now and go with it. Nothing's promised for the future, so they need to work with what they've got right now and make the most of it."
■ Woodford County, a 13-time state champ, has eight wrestlers in the state competition, including regional winners Trevor Lawson (106), Nathan Boston (113), Kyle Lawson (132), Max Andreoni (138), Jordan Doyle (152) and Wyatt Courtney (160).
■ Defending state champ Campbell County qualified 12 wrestlers for the state meet, including eight region winners. The Camels also won the state in 1990, 1991 and 2004.
KHSAA STATE WRESTLING
Where: Kentucky Horse Park's Alltech Arena
Friday: 10 a.m.
Saturday: 9:30 a.m.; consolation matches start at 4 p.m.; championship matches start at 7 p.m.
Admission: $15 per day or $25 for two-day pass. Children 10-and-under free.