Angel Vasquez was near tears after he achieved his long-held goal and won a state wrestling title Wednesday night.
The Lafayette junior beat Brandon Leak of North Hardin 5-4 in the 138-pound finals in the 52nd KHSAA State Tournament at Alltech Arena.
After hugging his coaches and walking off the mat, Vasquez went to the edge of the stands and got a cell phone from his mom, Lucy, so he could take a photo of his younger brother Kevin on the podium for placing eighth at 132 pounds.
The next thing Vasquez did was say what a tough competitor and good friend Leak was, and how he felt bad about beating him.
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When asked what he was going to do with his championship medal, Angel said it didn't belong to him, "it belongs to my family for everything they've done for me."
Lafayette Coach William Green said Vasquez's selfless behavior after winning a state title was typical.
"He's just a good guy," Green said. "He doesn't show anger, animosity or arrogance. He's like a White Knight. Everybody likes him and roots for him."
Vasquez won the tournament's Best & Brightest Award given by the Kentucky Army National Guard.
Vasquez, who's wrestled since the seventh grade, was state runner-up at 138 last year. He said that stoked him to take the top spot this year, "and I want to come back next year and win again."
Lexington's next highest finisher was Lafayette senior William Bossert, who took third at 195. "Going into my semis match with No. 2 (Elijah Miller), I had hopes, but when I came down, I tried to do the best I could, and I did by getting third place."
Lexington Catholic freshman Adam Bender, who lost his left leg to cancer when he was 1, hoped to win a state title in his first year of high school wrestling. But he dropped a 9-8 heartbreaker to Tanner Yenter of Campbell County in the 106-pound semifinals and wound up taking fourth place.
Coach Joe Patterson said Bender's performance in the semis was "the best he's ever wrestled in his life, but still came up short. That happens in sports sometimes.
"I'm thrilled and excited about getting fourth as a freshman. Hopefully, this will be motivation for him to come back next year and just break people in half and dominate and win the title."
Max Andreoni was the lone Woodford County wrestler to make the finals. The Yellow Jackets' sophomore lost 3-2 to Geordan Blanton of Johnson Central.
"It just didn't go my way," he said. "I didn't want to be in position to have to come back. I should've been in the lead the whole time."
Campbell County's Austin Myers capped one of the most remarkable careers in Kentucky history by winning his fourth consecutive title at 220 pounds and going undefeated all four years. He was named the tournament's outstanding wrestler.
"Four-time state undefeated state champ is something everybody dreams of as a kid," he said. "I dreamed it, and I did it."
Fern Creek won the team title, edging defending champ Union County 158.5 to 153. It was Fern Creek's third championship and first since 1984.