Losing, gaining and maintaining weight — at least one of the three is a constant concern for any wrestler. An athlete’s anxiousness that he or she won’t make weight during a weigh-in can produce enough sweat to drop a pound or two.
Marcelo Sierra needed to drop more than a pound or two. At 335 pounds in October, the Tates Creek sophomore was 50 pounds above the weight limit for the 285-pound heavyweight division in KHSAA wrestling. Three months later, Sierra clocks in just below the limit and with a more upbeat demeanor as he takes the mat.
He hit the heavyweight benchmark ahead of the sectional duals Jan. 19 and sports a 5-3 record heading into the 7th Region Tournament this weekend at Boyle County.
“I’d go to the meets (before) and just be like ‘I could have done something.’ Cause we’d usually lose by like one point as a team and I’d feel really bad,” said Sierra, the Commodores’ only heavyweight competitor this season. “Now that I’m a part of it I feel better now.”
The weight-loss regimen boiled down to running and cutting out the staples of a diet friendly to tastebuds but not so much to waistlines — bread, pop, candy, etc. While teammates were working on technique or sparring with one another, Sierra was running laps inside the school.
His practice attire consisted of sweatpants and socks that came up to his knees. He put on a shirt, then a hoodie, then another hoodie with its sleeves cut off. “I brought it up to cover my face and head and I’d just be running,” sometimes alternating it with walks or just going “as fast as I could until I got tired.”
Commodores Coach Zach Daman said when Sierra first came back to wrestling — he participated as an eighth-grader but didn’t as a freshman — he was more concerned with getting him in better health for his day-to-day life than to fill a void on the team. The “285” number put a target in mind that was more motivating than people just saying he should lose weight.
Having met that goal, as well as having a full team of guys in his corner, has lifted Sierra’s spirits. Daman said his grades are better and he seems to be enjoying school more than he did prior to losing the weight.
“He’s got the support and now he’s got the confidence on his own,” Daman said. “I think he’s really seen a big change.”
No. 20 St. Xavier was coming off arguably the two most deflating losses any team has experienced this season before beating Louisville Holy Cross by 22 points on Tuesday.
Steven Gordon hit a free throw with 2.2 seconds left to lift Manual over the Tigers 57-56 on Monday. That was only three days after Male star Alex Cook heaved a prayer from midcourt off a St. X deflection. The shot swished in to give the No. 14 Bulldogs a 65-62 victory and a spot in SportsCenter’s top 10 plays that night.
“That game Friday night was an awesome high school basketball game, for the fans especially,” Tigers Coach Kevin Klein said. “ ... The games for about a month straight have gone to the last minute. The margin for error’s so, so minimal.”
The Tigers were down 11-2 against Male then ended up with a seven-point lead in the third period. A back-and-forth fourth period resulted in a made three by St. X senior William Olsen with seven seconds left that, on many nights, would have forced overtime.
“I feel like that shot was good by about a tenth of a second,” Klein said of the game-winner. “It was well under a second and it was right at the buzzer. It was unbelievable.”
Laughing, Klein added, “I had to hear from all my students on Monday that I was on SportsCenter like I didn’t already know.”
Senior point guard Conor McKim leads the Tigers with 22.9 points per game. St. Xavier is 16-9 with wins against 7th Region companions Trinity and Ballard, both of whom are rated slightly above it.
A testament to the region’s strength? Central, rated seventh in the state, is barely above .500 at 11-8.
“It’s obviously a very loaded region with four districts that could have a number of district winners,” Klein said. “ ... It’s gonna be a lot based on matchups. Night by night there’s just a slew of teams that can beat up on each other and come out on top.”
With its 59-54 come-from-behind victory over Lexington Catholic at home on Tuesday, No. 1 Paul Laurence Dunbar became the first boys’ basketball team to finish with an 8-0 regular-season record in the current 43rd District alignment since the 2007-08 season.
The last team to do it? Lexington Catholic, which reached the Sweet Sixteen semifinals that season. That’s a feat many will expect Dunbar to replicate come March if it makes the big dance.
This year’s edition of the Bulldogs were 22-4 entering Thursday’s game at Henry Clay. It’s the first time Dunbar has reached 20 wins since ... the 2007-08 season.
Were you there?
Tuesday marked the 50th anniversary of the longest basketball game in KHSAA history, a matchup between Millersburg Military Institute and St. Patrick on Feb. 9, 1966.
Millersburg went on the road to defeat the Saints 106-105 in nine overtime periods. Ron Bailey of the Ledger Independent spoke with Johnny Stahl, who scored 25 points for St. Patrick that day and shared this nugget about the game’s length.
“The thing everyone should know was that we had the old clock that had a sweep hand that started at eight minutes,” Stahl told the Ledger Independent. “So the clock had to run down from the eight-minute mark to the three-minute mark before each overtime period began.”
You can read more about this historical game at bit.ly/1Lhp3E3.
Mr. and Miss Basketball
The Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches and Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation accepted nominations for Mr. and Miss Basketball from high school basketball coaches, KABC members and sports media until 9 a.m. Monday. The finalists from those nominations — which will include the 16 region players of the year — will be revealed next Friday.
Here were my nominations for Mr. and Miss Basketball (limited to five each): Mason Faulkner, Caverna; Quentin Goodin, Taylor County; Will Hager, Mercer County; Jordan Lewis, Paul Laurence Dunbar; Carson Williams, Owen County; Erin Boley, Elizabethtown; BriAnna Burbridge, Frankfort; Whitney Creech, Jenkins; Breanna Glover, Glasgow; T’laya Lyvers, Henry Clay.
▪ Henry Clay’s Aime Mabika was named the Gatorade Kentucky Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year on Thursday. He is the second player to be chosen from Henry Clay. Marty Tappel won the award in 1998.
The previous eight winners have come from Trinity or St. Xavier, who had four winners each in that span. Mabika is the first Lexington player to receive the award since Lexington Catholic’s Josh Lipka in 2007. He’s only the third player from a public school to win the award this century; the other two were from Paul Laurence Dunbar (Michael Matthews in 2003 and Sean Kelley in 2006).
Mabika and teammate Collin Rose signed letters of intent last week to play at the University of Kentucky.
▪ Trent Bouvet was on fire for South Oldham in its 92-47 win over Williamstown last Thursday. He shot 10-for-12 from behind the three-point arc, besting the school record of nine made treys, and finished 11-for-14 from the field for 32 points (he didn’t attempt any free throws).
The state record for made three-pointers in a game is 17, set by Sayre’s David DeMarcus in 1989.
▪ Glasgow’s Breanna Glover, a Mississippi signee, scored a school-record 51 points in the Scotties’ 84-51 win at Metcalfe County on Wednesday.
▪ Lexington Christian senior Trevor Hill scored 13 points in the Eagles’ win over Tates Creek on Tuesday, putting him into the school’s 1,000-point club. LCA had won three straight entering Thursday’s home game against Lexington Catholic.
▪ Bourbon County’s Haleigh Yazell hit the career 1,000-point mark in the Colonels’ 51-35 win at Nicholas County on Monday.
▪ Sheldon Clark named Chester McCoy its new football coach on Tuesday, the school’s third coach in as many years. McCoy, who served in the Marines before graduating from Morehead State in 1994, was an assistant under Jim Matney while the now-Johnson Central coach was at Sheldon Clark. McCoy was the head coach at Magoffin County from 2006 to 2012.
▪ Andrew Quinn, who reached four NCAA Tournaments as a goalkeeper at Notre Dame, was named the new soccer coach at Assumption last Friday. He replaced Kenyon Meyer, who resigned the position after 15 years.