Several local grapplers will have their sights set on capturing a state title when the KHSAA Wrestling State Championships begin Friday at Alltech Arena in Lexington’s Kentucky Horse Park.
Owensboro High School sophomore Andres Quintana enters after capturing the 2nd Region title at 113 pounds last week, and he’ll be joined by teammates Noah Kirkman, a senior at 120, and Jordan Neal, a senior at 195. Kirkman placed third in the region tournament, while Neal was fourth.
“We feel really good,” OHS coach Kenny Stone said of his wrestlers’ chances in state competition. “We had two No. 1 seeds (at region), but Noah ran into a buzzsaw there. He took it well, though. He’s an intelligent kid.
“Andres has improved tremendously this year. When he started out last year, you could tell he had a feel for the game. It really took off this year.”
Quintana enters with a 36-6 record, while Kirkman is 31-3.
“I expect both of them to bring back some kind of medal,” Stone said. “They’re both easily in the top five in the state in their weight class.”
Apollo junior Cameron Baker, who finished runner-up in the region tournament at 160 pounds, will head to state with a 32-10 record, along with Eagles’ sophomore Blaze Cart (285, third place at region, 31-14), junior David Gerkin (132, fourth, 14-8) and Marco Reyes (182, fourth, 28-15).
“We’re very excited,” Eagles first-year coach Courtney Johns said. “We can’t wait to get going.
“As coaches, we all want to think our kids are gonna do exceptionally, but that falls back on how well the kids perform. If they go out there and they’re tough and they wrestle the way they’re capable of, they can place.”
Representing Daviess County will be three region runners-up in senior Reese Haight (138, 41-6), junior heavyweight Say Moe (33-7) and sophomore Conner Tolson (182, 26-10), along with seniors Landen Boone (145, third, 38-13) and Skyler Walker (170, fourth, 12-2).
Panthers coach Curtis Martinson will be taking an experienced group to the state tournament, which he expects will pay dividends.
“Our kids are looking forward to wrestling there,” he said. “It’s a great experience for the boys. All but one of our kids have been to state before and seen the big show. The nerves can be a little much for the kids — it’s way bigger and a faster pace than any other tournament you can do during the season. So having the experience is always helpful.”
And, Martinson added, he anticipates a strong showing from his squad.
“All have a good chance to go far in the tournament, with four of the five kids ranked in the final state rankings,” he said. “With that being said, we are hoping for a record-setting finish for our program, like the rest of the season has been.
“As long as the kids wrestle and give their all, that’s all we ask. Our coaching staff has done well this season having the kids prepared, so let’s hope for more of the same.”
Ohio County will send six individuals to the state tournament in freshman Gunnar Arnold (126, fourth in 1st Region tournament, 41-16), sophomore Caige Clark (138, second, 48-9), Easton Givens (120, fourth, 36-13), senior Klemmer Nicodemus (182, third, 56-3), junior Andrew Pottle (285, third, 32-7) and senior Jack Probus (132, third, 45-8).
The state tournament begins Friday and concludes Saturday.