Henry Clay had itself a day on the mat as it came away with eight wins in 14 finals matches during the Fayette County championships on Saturday afternoon.
The Blue Devils, who hosted this year’s city meet, defeated Tates Creek 245.5 to 169 to earn top team honors. Four wrestlers for Henry Clay finished in second place in addition to its eight gold medalists.
It was Henry Clay’s first city title since 2005 and snapped a streak of four straight team wins by Lafayette (there was no city meet in 2013 due to weather conditions).
“I feel like we’ve grown a lot as a team,” said Evan Cannon, who edged Tates Creek’s Chubaka Mutayungwa in the 160-pound division. “That’s all due to the coaches. I can’t thank them enough.”
Cannon, who’s ranked among the top wrestlers in his division and is a favorite to take the Region 7 title at Boyle County next Saturday, said the work he’s willing to put in during the offseason is what puts him over the top more often than not.
He lost in the first round of the state tournament wrestling in the 152-pound division. He’s confident he can make a better impression this year.
“I haven’t stopped wrestling since a week after state last year,” Cannon said. “ ... I think I can win regionals and definitely place top three at state.”
One of the toughest things for Cannon is giving up soft drinks for months at a time to help maintain weight. “The day after I weigh in at state I’m gonna drink a 24-pack of Coke,” he said with a laugh.
Blue Devils Coach Andy Critchfield took over the program in 2006 and was happy to help bring a city championship back to Henry Clay.
While the city event doesn’t field as many teams as the 16-team Region 7 tournament, it helps teams stay loose and gauge where they stand heading into the postseason.
“I think it’s a good stepping stone for the regional tournament,” Critchfield said. “If we can wrestle like this I feel pretty confident that we can take home a regional title.”
Lafayette had three first-place finishers, including Kentucky football signee Landon Young in the 285-pound division.
Odeh Eqal was one of two Tates Creek winners. He rallied from a four-point deficit to earn a 12-11 win as the horn sounded against Lafayette’s Kevin Vasquez.
Derek Soper, wrestling in the 126-pound class, gave Bryan Station its lone title. He’s undefeated at his current weight and has a great shot at being Bryan Station’s first two-time state tournament qualifier under ninth-year head coach J.J. Townsend.
Soper’s aggressive mentality has served him well.
“I’ve seen many kids ... that are so scared to do something,” Soper said. “When I get on the mat I wanna go at you as hard as I can. If you’re female or male, I’m gonna treat you the same.
“When we’re wrestling one-on-one, I’m gonna be harder than you. I’m gonna grind your face into the mat before you grind mine.”
Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps
City meet results
Teams—1. Henry Clay 245.5, 2. Tates Creek 169, 3. Lafayette 136, 4. Paul Laurence Dunbar 52.5, 5. Bryan Station 38
106—1. Bradley Miller, Henry Clay; 2. Christian Guerro, Henry Clay; 3. Andres Calleja, Dunbar
113—1. Brandon Miller, Henry Clay; 2. Keivn Ensor, Tates Creek; 3. Justin Chavez, Lafayette
120—1. Tyler Storck, Henry Clay; 2. Jack Raymond, Lafayette; 3. Jordan Trejo, Tates Creek
126—1. Derek Soper, Bryan Station; 2. Kevin Richards, Henry Clay; 3. Zach Morgan, Tates Creek
132—1. Justin Torgerson, Lafayette, 2. Levi Burke, Henry Clay; 3. Alex Spaulding, Dunbar
138—1. Brady Gibson, Tates Creek; 2. Isaiah Johnson, Henry Clay; 3. Will McCleary, Tates Creek
145—1. Odeh Eqal, Tates Creek; 2. Kevin Vasquez, Lafayette; 3. Josh Cagle, Henry Clay
152—1. Jacob Dawson, Lafayette; 2. Elias Eqal, Tates Creek; 3. Myles Harris, Henry Clay
160—1. Evan Cannon, Henry Clay; 2. Chubaka Mutayungwa, Tates Creek; 3. Tyler Craig, Dunbar
170—1. Lucas Soard, Henry Clay; 2. Matthew Holman, Bryan Station; 3. Stuart Branson, Tates Creek
182—1. Blake Denny, Henry Clay; 2. Mason Boggs, Lafayette; 3. Garrett Belcher, Tates Creek
195—1. Ray Karl-Irving, Henry Clay; 2. Mukendi Kalala, Lafayette
220—1. Will Preston, Henry Clay; 2. Jose Martinez, Tates Creek
285—1. Landon Young, Lafayette; 2. Marcelo Sierra, Tates Creek; 3. Abel Elder, Henry Clay