Wrestlers Ready For Regional

Posted on February 5, 2012 in Winter Sports, Wrestling

By Chuck Landis clandis@chronicle-tribune.com www.chronicle-tribune.com

While Oak Hill wrestlers are justifiably excited about the future, Golden Eagles coach Andrew King wants to keep them firmly focused on the present.

The Eagles take eight underclassmen among their 11 qualifiers to Saturday’s Peru Regional individual tournament. Cody Staggs, the Oak Hill Sectional champion at 120 pounds, is one of three seniors.

Competition begins at 8:30 a.m. and the top four finishers in each weight class advance to the semistate. Admission is $6.

Oak Hill fell 23 1/2 points short of defeating Kokomo for the sectional team championship with six freshmen in the lineup. Four freshmen advanced to Peru along with four sophomores.

“They did well,” King said of the Eagles’ sectional effort. “But if they had done exceptionally well we would have scored 24 more points and won.”

Kokomo went on to win Wednesday’s Logansport Regional team tournament and will compete in the Feb. 25 state finals. King believes the Eagles could have made it through and laments that his team will never get another chance to compete as they mature. The state team tournament will be discontinued after this year.

King doesn’t view the Eagles’ youth as a handicap and expects the majority of his wrestlers to qualify for the Feb. 11 semistate in the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne.

“If we have a great day, we’ll have seven (advance),” King said. “If not, we’ll have three.

“You can’t count your chickens tomorrow,” he added. “You have to take advantage of what the here and now brings. They don’t give extra points to seniors.”

Staggs (29-4) and 285-pound sectional champ Ethan Bowland (19-12) have the Eagles’ best chances based on the draw. Each is paired against fourth-place finishers from the Peru Sectional, and both their opponents have losing records.

Sectional runners-up are matched against third-place finishers, and on paper that could give Eagles wrestlers Breighton Mullinix (126) and Jared Wallace (132) an advantage. Any wrestler who wins a first-round match qualifies for the semistate.

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