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Wrestling: Jaguars settle for third at state tourney
BY JUSTIN THOMAS, firstname.lastname@example.org
With two-time defending champion Allen still going strong, Flower Mound's wrestling team headed to the state tournament Friday and Saturday at the Delco Center in Austin with hopes of pulling out a second-place team finish.
And while the Jaguars returned home with four medals, they had to settle for third as a squad as Flower Mound (82.5) was edged out for second by Canyon Randall (90) with the Eagles comfortably in first (189).
"The difference came in the points," said Steve Davis, Flower Mound head coach. "Randall had the wins by fall and we did not and I think that is what cost us. A lot of the matches were anybody's to win. We competed well, it just came down to those bonus points."
Following the Jaguars locally was Marcus (33) in 11th, Coppell in 12th (33), Southlake Carroll in 22nd (22), Lewisville (14) in 34th and The Colony in 77th (2). Hebron also advanced competitors to state, but failed to accumulate any scoring.
On the girls side, R.L. Turner placed 38th (14), while Creekview took 40th (13) just ahead of Coppell in 41st (12) and Lewisville in 51st (6).
Leading the charge for Flower Mound was a tandem of brothers.
Scott Akers, wrestling at 132 pounds, went 4-for-4 to earn gold, including a 5-0 victory in the finals over Katy's Petey Martinez.
"Akers was very workman like," Davis said. "We expected to him to win a state title and it played out like that all the way through. It wasn't very flashy, he just got it done very methodically. He had a tough match in the quarterfinals I believe, but other than that, they were solid wins."
Bolstering Scott's gold was brother Dylan (120), who followed up on last year's gold at 113 with a silver medal.
The senior cruised into the finals with three wins before being outlasted in the championships match by Tascosa's Nick Herrmann, 6-5. It is the fourth consecutive state title for Herrmann, a feat no other Texas wrestler has accomplished.
"I have a whole lot of respect for Dylan," Davis said. "He could have easily gone for a repeat at 113 but he wanted to take a shot at Herrmann. He went on to lose, but I wouldn't change any of that.
"He actually scored the first points, he just couldn't get up off the bottom. Herrmann is nails when he is on top, that's why he'll be able to wrestle at any school he wants in college. But Dylan gave him the closest match he's had in a couple of years and I really admire and respect him for going after it."
Akers was the only opponent Herrmann failed to pin.
Hebron's Patrick Davis also wrestled at 120, but was defeated in both his matches.
Coppell's Sam Rice closed out his season on top, taking gold at heavyweight by winning a tightly-contested final over Clear Brook's Justin Ackerman, 5-4. Rice is the first Cowboy to win a state title since 2007.
"The finals wasn't actually that close because [Ackerman] had a stall point late," said Chip Lowery, Coppell head coach. "The toughest match was actually a double overtime match in the semifinals. He was losing in the overtime and just picked the kid up and kind of flung him over his back. It was pretty impressive.
"Sam was pretty pumped and I was proud of him because he put in so much work. He's been wrestling since he was in fifth grade, but he really put in a lot of extra time during the past year to get stronger and I think that was the difference."
Flower Mound's other set of siblings also produced a medal with Brady Speckels (145) claiming bronze despite dealing with personal issues. The senior dropped his second-round match against champion Bo Nickal of Allen, but regrouped and rattled off four consecutive wins by at least four points to finish third.
"He could have called it quits with some things he had going on," Davis said. "It would have been easy to walk away. He wasn't himself in the first match, but he came back in the second match against the eventual champion and had the lead until there were three seconds left.
"Then he had to cut weight to get back down to 145 for the second day and he could have easily given up again. But again, he made weight and won the consolation finals. It was pretty remarkable. I'm very sad he didn't win a state title. He missed out on the slimmest of margins a couple of times, but he's a champ in my book."
Rounding out the Jaguar medalists was Drake Dudley (160), who won by fall in his opener and by 7-3 decision in the second round. Dudley was relegated to the consolation bracket after coming up short against champion Travis Leiskau of Klein Oak. In the third-place match, Dudley pinned Vista Ridge's Dillon Carter.
"[Dudley] had a fantastic tourney," Davis said. "He ran into a tough opponent in the second round and he just came on strong. He was down, 4-1, right off the bat. He had some chances to close the gap, but it just got away from him. But he gave it best that he had."
At 106, Flower Mound's Jordan Speckels lost in the first round against champion Brice Bassinger of Saginaw.
"He got a tough draw," Davis said. "It's his first trip to state and that's frequently tough."
Marcus sent just two wrestlers to Austin but both performed well, highlighted by a silver-medal performance from Brandon Litten. The senior squeaked out a pair of 3-2 decisions before rolling past Frisco's Ashton Harris in the semifinals, 11-6. Litten's gold aspirations came to a close in the finals, however, against Central's Greg Wilson.
At 170, Marcus' Jonathon Murphy had the unfortunate break of facing champion Matt Meyer of Allen in the first round. But that didn't discourage Murphy, who got hot in the consolation round, winning two matches by pin (one in 47 seconds) and two by decisive decisions before succumbing to Arlington's Riley Curnett in the third-place match.
Carroll's Matt Swoyer (170) also made his way through the consolation bracket to earn points in his second appearance at state. After being pinned in the first round, Swoyer won three consecutive matches before settling for sixth. Also earning points for the Dragons was Cody Lindberg (195), who picked up fourth. Lindberg reached the semifinals of the main draw and split his consolation matches, while Flower Mound's Tyler Scalzi went 2-2 to narrowly miss placing.
"That was a bad break," Davis said. "Tyler had a guy on his back for 1:48 but we couldn't get the call. That was a game-changer because if he could have pulled it out, he would have gotten two points for the win, two for the pin and would have still had two more matches."
Creekview's Elijah Cook took sixth, winning his first match and a pair in the consolation rounds.
At 106, Brady's brother Jordan faced a tough draw, squaring off against eventual champion Brice Bassinger of Saginaw in the first round. Speckels rebounded to win one match in the consolation draw but was eliminated by Franklin's Cody Moss.
The Colony's John Arra went 2-2 competing at 113, winning in the first round over Abraham Alvarado of Memorial by a 5-2 decision before being relegated to the consolation bracket. Arra won his third match by decision, 5-3.
Lewisville made its way on the scoreboard by virtue of a sixth-place finish from Rodrick Williams.
"I was hoping he did a little better," said Kent Hall, Lewisville head coach. "I think it might have come down to the others guys in his bracket just being a little more experienced and having a little more technical ability."
As Hall anticipated, Lewisville's Erick Polanco (126) ran into a tough first-round opponent, dropping an 18-5 decision to Allen's Jarrod Trotter, who went on to win the bracket. Polanco rebounded to win his first consolation match over Anderson's Carson Moore but bowed out in his next match.
Clay Lewis also fell victim to an Eagle, taking his first match over Randall's Chris Thompson, 2-0, before running into Allen's Jack Bass.
"We got off to a good start," Hall said, "and all of our guys who wrestled won matches and that's what you want to see."
In the other half of the draw, Coppell's Kaleb Richardson won two matches by decision, 12-4 and 10-2, but suffered defeats against the second- and fifth-place finishers.
Creekview's Issac Salinas (132) got out to a solid start, defeating Rowe's David Diaz in the first round, 5-2. However, Salinas suffered losses to the third- and fourth-place finishers in his next two matches.
"Everybody for us won at least one match and that's what you want to see," Lowery said. It was a good way to finish and the ones that were beat, lost to quality kids."
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