The LaRue County Mat Hawks captured their 3rd consecutive region title and 17th in the last 22 years. After the opening round Friday night, the Hawks found themselves in 3rd place and down 28 points. Saturday though was a different story, with their chances of repeating as Region 2 Wrestling Champions in doubt the Hawks rose the occasion.
LaRue County advanced five wrestlers to the finals and won all five championship bouts, while five others wrestled back to place in the top-6 as they claimed their 3rd region title in the last three years with 215 points. While Meade County was runner-up with 211.5 points, Apollo finished 3rd with 209 points.
In the most exciting Regional tournament in memory, 6 points separated Meade County, LaRue County, and Apollo going into the finals. Meade and LaRue were both being represented in the finals by five wrestlers and Apollo being represented by 6; it would come down to which team won the most finals matches. Apollo won 4 of 6 bouts, Meade won 3 of 5, and LaRue winning all 5.
The Region 2 Wrestling Championship came down to the Heavyweight Championship, the last match of the night. Trailing by .5 points to Meade County, Junior Tucker Shelton defeated Taylor County’s Tate Morris with a takedown in overtime to seal a region title for the Hawks.
Winning all five championship bouts was a big proponent of the Hawks 3rd Regional title, but Coach Eric Burrell said the most significant boost was the wrestlers scoring points in wrestle backs.
Juniors Tucker Shelton, Jabin Hite, sophomores Thomas Boone, Thomas Hoppes and 8th grader Conner Lambert won their weights, 8th grader Gabe Fortier placed third at 106 pounds, sophomore Corey Westover was third at 113, sophomore Austin Shaffer placed third at 138, senior Cody Burd took fifth at 145, Freshman Queston Wheeler took sixth place at 220.
106lbs 8th grader Gabe Fortier dropped a tough decision in the semi-finals but showed tremendous heart and grit pinning his next two opponents to score bonus points for the Hawks and finishing 3rd to qualify for his 1st state tournament.
113lbs Sophomore Corey Westover also dropped his match in the semi-finals to the eventual champion from Apollo, he wrestled back to win consecutive matches by bonus points and finished 3rd and qualified for his first state tournament.
120lbs Sophomore Drew Yingling dropped consecutive matches going 0-2 on the day.
126lbs Sophomore Thomas Hoppes pinned his opponent from Apollo in the first period, controlling from start to finish, building a 10-1 lead before pinning his Apollo opponent. Hoppes won his 1st region title, and it is his 4th time qualifying for the state tournament.
132lbs In the most exciting match the night, Junior Jabin Hite defeated his 6th ranked opponent from John Hardin Rickey Garcia. Hite led 2-0 after an initial takedown in the first period, but Garcia scored an escape and takedown with 1:00 left in the third period to take a 3-2 lead. Hite continued to work and secured a reversal with 15 seconds left to win 4-3. Hite won his 1st regional title and secured his 3rd trip to the state tournament.
138lbs Sophomore Austin Shaffer entered the tournament as the 10th seed in his weight. Shaffer defeated opponents from Thomas Nelson, Meade County, Fort Knox, and Daviess County to finish 3rd place. Shaffer qualified for his first state tournament.
145lbs Senior Cody Burd also outwrestled his seeding for the tournament. Burd entered the tournament as the 10th seed and defeated opponents from North Hardin, Daviess County, and Trinity Whitesville to finish 5th and qualify as an alternate for the state tournament.
152lbs Junior Chris Morton went 2-2 for the tournament, securing bonus points in two matches narrowly losing in the blood round.
160lbs Sophomore Thomas Boone defeated North Hardin’s Myles Nelson, 11-10. Boone led just 8-7 going into the third period. He then scored on an escape and takedown for an 11-7 lead. His opponent scored an escape and takedown to cut his deficit to one point, but Boone was able to hold on for the win and secure his 2nd region title.
170lbs Junior JT Holcomb dropped consecutive matches to go 0-2 for the tournament.
182lbs Junior Josh Harper finished the tournament 1-2, scoring bonus points in his win.
195lbs 8th grader Conner Lambert pinned John Hardin junior Cameron Brown in 2:40. Lambert controlled his match from start to finish, scoring his initial takedown with a double over lateral drop, and then working from there to secure the pin. Lambert, only an 8th grader, secured his 1st regional title and 1st trip to the state wrestling tournament.
220lbs Freshman Queston Wheeler finished the tournament 1-2 securing bonus points in his win and finishing 6th.
285lbs Junior Tucker Shelton scored on a takedown 10 seconds into overtime to beat his Taylor County opponent Tate Morris, 3-1. Securing his 3rd region title and 3rd trip to the state wrestling tournament.