Lafayette junior wrestler Angel Vasquez's most anxious moments in last month's region tournament came before he even took the mat for the 138-pound finals.
Vasquez was on edge as he watched his younger brother Kevin go against Cameron Nevels of Wayne County in the 132 finals.
Kevin, a freshman, almost got pinned early in his match and trailed 5-0. He rallied to tie it 10-10, then as time ticked away, he allowed Nevels to escape, then took him down to win a 12-11 thriller.
"I was almost in tears watching him, especially when he almost got pinned," Angel said. "I don't like seeing him get hurt."
Angel, relieved and excited about this brother's victory, wasted no time in his match. He pinned Lucas McCain of Boyle County in 71 seconds to repeat as region champ and solidify his No. 1 state ranking at 138.
Lafayette Coach William Green said the Vasquez brothers are "as competitive as all get-out. They really push each other, and try to out-do each other."
Kevin said he's learned a lot from Angel. "The biggest thing he's taught me is to never give up, to always give it all I have.
"That's what I did (in the region). I kept wrestling hard, God put it in my hands and I took advantage of it."
Angel was proud of his brother's accomplishment.
"A freshman winning the regional is awesome," he said.
Angel aims to win the 138 state title after finishing as runner-up last February.
"I've always wanted to be No. 1, and this year I'm going to do it," he said. "I've gotta keep my head up and moving forward."
The Vasquez brothers lead a Lexington contingent into the 52nd KHSAA State Tournament, which is Tuesday and Wednesday in Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park. The competition was supposed to be held Feb. 20-21, but was postponed because of bad weather and the availability of the arena.
Lafayette's Landon Young, a three-time region champ, is rated No. 2 in the state in the 285-pound class. He was No. 1 going into last year's state tournament, but was upset in the early rounds and finished fourth. The 6-foot-7 Young, who has committed to play football at Kentucky, said he "learned tons" from last year's disappointment.
"It's about keeping an eye on the prize," he said. "I thought too far in front of my next opponent last year. I know I've gotta worry about one match at a time."
Lafayette's William Bossert, region champ at 195 pounds, is rated sixth in the state.
The Generals' state qualifiers also included region runners-up Jacob Dawson at 152 and Dameon Black at 182.
Lexington Catholic freshman Adam Bender, who lost his left leg to cancer when he was 1 year old, hopes to contend for the state title at 106.
Tates Creek sophomore Odeh Eqal won the region at 152. His brother Elias also qualified for the state as region runner-up at 145.
Henry Clay tied a school record by qualifying 12 wrestlers out of the 7th Region for the state tournament, including region runners-up Tyler Storck at 120, Josh Cagle at 126 and Blake Denny at 160.
Woodford County, an 11-time state titlist, had four wrestlers win in the 5th Region: Tylan Tucker at 106, Tucker Hurst at 113, Joey Roberts at 120 and Max Andreoni at 145.
Defending champion Union County will be going after its eighth state title.