Basketball coaches moan about how tough it is to beat the same opponent three times in the same season.
Henry Clay wrestler Mike Whalen knows what it's like to double that difficulty, and still come out smiling.
Whalen beat Luke Rearic of Lafayette 7-4 in the 106-pound state finals Saturday night — his sixth consecutive victory over his city rival this winter.
"Michael's very confident," Henry Clay Coach Andy Critchfield said. "He took this as one more match and took it to Luke one more time."
Whalen, a sophomore, became the first state champ in the tournament's new venue — the Kentucky Horse Park's Alltech Arena — in front of a record finals crowd of 4,719.
Whalen had two early take-downs of Rearic and stayed in control the rest of the match.
"I wanted to wrestle smart and keep my feet moving and that's what I did," he said after capping a 44-0 season.
Last year Whalen failed to place in the top eight, but he watched his older brother Joe win the title at 145 pounds.
"When he got beat in the state last year, I was real hard on him," Critchfield said. "That was just motivation for him to put in all those extra practices and weight-lifting."
Whalen said, "All the hard work paid off."
Rearic, who placed seventh as a freshman and fourth as a sophomore last year, moved up another couple of steps on the podium Saturday night.
As for next season when it's assumed he and Whalen will renew the rivalry, Rearic said, "We'll see what happens."
■ Tates Creek senior Terrell Moore, seeded fifth, made it to the finals in the heavyweight class. He and Mason Franck of Campbell County were locked in a scoreless battle until Franck got an escape with 90 seconds left and held on to win 1-0.
Moore said he gave it all he had but couldn't take down Franck. "I can't express how disappointed I am. Second is never good enough."
■ Campbell County won its fourth team title. It was also state champ in 1990, 1991 and 2004. The Camels got an unexpected gift after Christmas when brothers Stephen and Austin Myers transferred in from Grant County. Stephen, a junior who won a state title in Ohio last year, was the 152-pound champ Saturday night. Austin, a freshman, won the 220-pound title. Each of them finished 19-0.
■ Johnson Central senior J.J. Jude repeated as undefeated state champ at 170 pounds. He beat Hiero Chamblee of Simon Kenton 6-3 in the finals to push his record the last two years to 105-0.
Jude is the state's all-time leading career rusher in football and signed with EKU.
"This is it for me in wrestling, my last match," Jude said. "I just tried to wrestle a solid match, get the 'W' and get out of here. I'm ready to pack on some weight and go play football for Eastern."
■ Trinity's 138-pound senior John Fahy became the sixth wrestler in state history to win four state titles. He was named the outstanding wrestler of the tournament.
Previous four-time champs: James Earl Hardin of Kentucky School for the Deaf (194-67); Robbie Clarkston of Conner (1978-81); Joe Carr Jr. (1993,'95-'97); Isaac Knable of St. Xavier (1999-2002); Harrison Courtney of Woodford County (2006-09).