The wait was worth it for Cagen Wallace.
Wallace, a junior at Wayne County, defeated Taylor County junior Brandon Miller by a 5-2 decision in the 113-pound finals of the KHSAA State Wrestling Tournament on Saturday evening in Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park. He finished 57-0 on the season.
The crowning moment came one year after Wallace fell to Woodford County’s Chase Yost, 4-2, in overtime of the 106-pound finals. He entered that match 55-0.
“I feel like I should have had it last year,” Wallace said. “ … This year the championship made it all worth it. I didn’t let it get to my head. I just told myself to keep wrestling.”
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Wallace — the only wrestler in the finals from the 7th Region (in which Lexington’s teams compete) — was one of four wrestlers this season to finish unbeaten along with Union County eighth-grader Zeke Escalera (106 pounds), Union senior Bryce Sheffer (138) and Woodford County senior Max Andreoni (182).
Sheffer’s Braves finished with the overall team title, topping St. Xavier by a score of 227.5-191. Johnson Central finished third with 171 points.
Union County won consecutive state wrestling titles for the first time since the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Saturday’s team victory was its fourth since 2011 and its ninth overall, behind only Woodford County’s 13 titles for the most in state history.
“Coming in there every day, everybody’s grinding it out as a family,” said Sheffer, who won his fourth straight state title, all in different weight classes. “It’s just a great thing. It’s hard to beat it.”
Andreoni was one of two winners for Woodford County, which finished fourth overall. Joey Roberts, another senior, defeated St. Xavier’s Clayton Hanson in the 145-pound division for his first state championship.
“I’m blessed to do it with my best friend Joey,” Andreoni said. “It’s overwhelming to me. If there was anybody else, I’d pick the whole team, but I’m glad it was Joey.”
Two other wrestlers — Cooper’s Cody Huston (152) and LaRue County’s Matt Steven (195) — entered the finals undefeated. Male’s Zane Brown, ranked first at 152 pounds in the final ratings released by KentuckyWrestling.com, defeated Huston. Steven, ranked first in his division, was pinned by Calloway County’s David Woods, who was rated ninth.
Lexington on Saturday
Henry Clay’s Christian Shelby and Ray-Karl Irving prevailed in their respective fifth-place matches in the 152-pound and 195-pound classes. The Blue Devils’ Tyler Storck finished sixth in the 120-pound division.
Irving, who wasn’t cleared to wrestle until January after breaking his leg in August during a football scrimmage, was a state runner-up last season and was close to making the finals again. His foot was ruled out of bounds near the end of a 6-4 loss to Calloway County’s David Woods in the semifinals. Trinity’s Kadin Kulmer defeated him, 3-1, in a match that decided who would compete in the third-place match.
Irving’s favorite song is “Bounce Back” by Big Sean (featuring Little Wayne). After taking two losses on Saturday, the junior wasn’t about to falter in his final match of the season.
“It’s like, ‘Last night took an L, but tonight I bounce back,’” said Irving, reciting lyrics from the song. “That just reminds me of this. Every time I think about me losing, I always bounce back from it. … In my head I was thinking, I’m not leaving with an L. I’m leaving with a win.”
Lafayette senior Justin Torgerson (138-pound) and junior Kevin Vasquez (145) finished sixth overall in their respective weight classes.
KHSAA State Wrestling Results
Top 20 teams—1. Union County 227.5, 2. St. Xavier 191, 3. Johnson Central 171, 4. Woodford County 152, 5. Walton-Verona 152, 6. Simon Kenton 115, 7. John Hardin 86.5, 8. Oldham County 84, 9. Wayne County 76, 10. Dixie Heights 74.5, 11. Calloway County 74, t12. LaRue County 61.5, t12. Madison Central 61.5, 14. Meade County 60, 15. Cooper 58, 16. Male 55.5, 17. Ryle 52, 18. Scott 50, 19. Fern Creek 49, 20. Campbell County 48.
106 finals—1. Zeke Escalera, Union County; 2. Preston Mattingly, Apollo; 3. Brendan Pye, Scott; 4. Thomas Deck, Madison Central; 5. Rickey Garcia, John Hardin
113—1. Cagen Wallace, Wayne County; 2. Brandon Miller, Taylor County; 3. Adam Bender, Woodford County; 4. Gabe Adams, Union County; 5. Shay Horton, Ryle
120—1. Brady Wells, Campbell County; 2. Brody Haverstick, John Hardin; 3. Nate Wheeler, St. Xavier; 4. Chase Yost, Woodford County; 5. Blake Roth, Walton-Verona
126—1. Ryan Moore, Walton-Verona; 2. Austin Cook, St. Xavier; 3. Tylan Tucker, Woodford County; 4. Tanner Yenter, Campbell County; 5. Colton Lampe, Fern Creek
132—1. Saul Ervin, Union County; 2. Blake Evans, Pleasure Ridge Park; 3. Dante Castellano, Simon Kenton; 4. Kaden Darbro, St. Xavier; 5. Alex Rivera, Moore
138—1. Bryce Sheffer, Union County; 2. Konner Kraeszig, St. Xavier; 3. Trent Johnson, John Hardin; 4. Austin Nixon, Dixie Heights; 5. Zach Holub, Cooper
145—1. Joey Roberts, Woodford County; 2. Clayton Hanson, St. Xavier; 3. Chance Oxford, Union County; 4. Blake Gamble, Johnson Central; 5. Noah Duke, Ryle
152—1. Zane Brown, Male; 2. Cody Huston, Cooper; 3. Micah Ervin, Union County; 4. Dallas Miles, St. Xavier; 5. Christian Shelby, Henry Clay
160—1. Geordon Blanton, Johnson Central; 2. Cameron Ward, St. Xavier; 3. Mason Smith, Walton-Verona; 4. Jared Branch, Fern Creek; 5. Dylan Gray, Caldwell County
170—1. Casey Cornett, Simon Kenton; 2. Joe Jackson, Johnson Central; 3. Diion Leavell, Christian County; 4. Jacob Bratcher, Manual; 5. Braden Mulcahy, Walton-Verona
182—1. Max Andreoni, Woodford County; 2. Elijah Jackson, Simon Kenton; 3. Avery Buckman, Union County; 4. Chase Blanton, Harrison County; 5. Katayvon Anthony, Hopkinsville
195—1. David Woods, Calloway County; 2. Matt Steven, LaRue County; 3. Kadin Kulmer, Trinity; 4. Brady Taylor, Johnson Central; 5. Ray-Karl Irving, Henry Clay
220—1. Bryan Pratt, Meade County; 2. Colby Culver, Calloway County; 3. Alex Horn, Johnson Central; 4. Zachariah Jones, Central Hardin; 5. Jacob Peters, Dixie Heights
285—1. Hunter Ruber, Walton-Verona; 2. Kairus Washington, Dixie Heights; 3. Justus Williams, Madison Southern; 4. Byron Pierce, Johnson Central; 5. Christian Denney, Wayne County