• Rick Capone, Sports Editor

Mat Jackets 2nd at region; 12 qualify for state


EMIR BERNABE was one of six Woodford County High School wrestlers who won championship titles at the Region 5 Wrestling Tournament, which was held at Anderson County High School on Saturday, Feb. 13. At the end of the day, 12 Mat Jackets qualified for the KHSAA State Wrestling Tournament, which will be held at the Kentucky Horse Park, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19 and 20. (Photo by Rick Capone)

The Woodford County High School wrestling team finished just short of its goal of winning the Region 5 Wrestling Tournament, which was held at Anderson County High School on Saturday, Feb. 13. However, the Mat Jackets still had a great day, as they finished in second place, won six weight classes and qualified 12 wrestlers for the KHSAA State Wrestling Tournament, which will be held in the Alltech Arena at Kentucky Horse Park, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19 and 20. “Great day for us Saturday (at region),” said Woodford head coach Rusty Parks Jr. “Twelve (wrestlers) going to state. Still have a shot at the title. Six champs was pretty impressive. We wrestled well all day. It was a two-horse race and we came up a little short. We’ll definitely beat Oldham at the state tournament. No doubt in my mind.” Winning the 10-team region tournament was Oldham County with 254.5 points, while Woodford was second with 240.5 points, followed by North Oldham third with 225.5 points, South Oldham fourth with 117.5 points, Franklin County fifth with 90.5 points, Scott County sixth with 81 points, Anderson County seventh with 59 points, Western Hills eighth with 43 points, Grant County ninth with 24 points and Spencer County 10th with seven points. Advancing to the state tournament for Woodford are: Chase Yost (106 pounds), Tylan Tucker (113 pounds), Tucker Hurst (120 pounds), Marik Black (126 pounds), Joey Roberts (132 pounds), Dermot Cunningham (138 pounds), Matthew Fallon (145 pounds), Max Andreoni (160 pounds), Michael Eldridge (170 pounds), Brandon Varble (182 pounds), Emir Bernabe (195 pounds), Helio Reyes (heavyweight). Woodford now goes through one final week of preparation in the season, as they get set for this weekend’s state championships, which they are determined to win. “This week of preparation for state will include good hard training, but staying injury free is ideal,” said Parks. “Mental preparation will be the key. Staying focused and being ready to go battle and compete.” Here is a recap of how Woodford did at region. Champions Chase Yost wrestled in the 106-pound weight class and had a bye into the semifinals. There the eighth-grader defeated Franklin County’s Jon Lowe by a pin to advance to the championship match, where he won a 9-4 decision over Oldham County’s Tristan Ballinger to win his title. Tylan Tucker also had a bye into the semifinal round of his 113-pound weight class. In his semifinal, the sophomore pinned Western Hills’s Ezavion Peyton to reach the final, where he won an 8-4 decision over North Oldham’s Drew Johnson to bring home his title. Joey Roberts also won a title. Wrestling in the 132-pound weight class, the junior had a bye into the semifinals, where he pinned North Oldham’s Josh Melloan. With the win he advanced to the final, where he scored an 18-3 technical fall over Oldham County’s Mason Donner to win his title. Max Andreoni wrestled in the 160-pound weight class in the tournament. Following a first-round bye, the junior pinned Scott County’s Dillon Gilbert to advance to the championship match, where he pinned Oldham County’s Lucas Carrillo to win his title. Michael Eldridge also had a great day in winning the 170-pound weight class. The senior’s day began with a 5-4 decision over Oldham County’s Eli Soeder. He followed that by pinning Western Hills’s Jacob Smith in the semifinals. With that win, Eldridge advanced to the final where he scored a 6-4 decision over Franklin County’s Aaron Valentine to win his title. Emir Bernabe made his final region tournament one to remember. Wrestling in the 195-pound weight class, the senior opened the day by pinning Western Hills’s Evan Hanus, and then followed that by pinning Grant County’s Quinton Rayburn to advance to the championship match. There he won a 7-2 decision over Oldham County’s Daniel Kimbell to win his region title. 2nd Place Tucker Hurst’s final region tournament as a Mat Jacket took an unexpected turn. Favored in the 120-pound weight class, the senior wrestler opened the day with a pin over Anderson County’s Caleb Gettlefinger, and then followed that with a pin over Franklin County’s Zach Manns in the semifinals. With that win, Hurst advanced to the championship match where he lost a tough 9-3 decision to North Oldham’s Dallas Ochsenbein to finish in second place. Matthew Fallon, a senior Mat Jacket, wrestled in the 145-pound weight class and had a great day on the mat. Following a bye, he pinned South Oldham’s Shane Wilson in the semifinals. The win put him into the championship match, where he lost a 10-5 decision to Oldham County’s Nick Wise to finish in second place. 3rd Place Marik Black, a junior, began his day in the 126-pound weight class with a pin over South Oldham’s Cain Boyer to advance to the semifinals, where he lost to Oldham County’s Jakob McClintic. Black bounced back in his next match and defeated Scott County’s Truman Galousha by a 13-1 major decision to advance to the 3rd/4th-place match. There he scored a 15-5 major decision over Grant County’s Thomas Gripshover to bring home a third-place finish. 4th Place Dermot Cunningham wrestled in the 138-pound weight class and opened his day with an 11-8 decision over Anderson County’s Andrew Lykens. In his next match, he lost to Franklin County’s Nathaniel Lawrence by a forfeit, but then won his next match by a pin over Grant County’s Bryce Landers. That win advanced the senior into the 3rd/4th-place match where he lost by a pin to North Oldham’s Austin Alemi to finish the day in fourth place. Brandon Varble, a junior, opened his day in the 182-pound weight class with a pin over Spencer County’s Matt Foust, but then lost in the semifinals by a pin to Oldham County’s Max Emerson. Varble came back strong and pinned Scott County’s Tyler Little to advance to the 3rd/4th-place match, where he lost a heartbreaking, one-point, 3-2 decision to North Oldham’s Collin Waples to finish in fourth place. Helio Reyes, who only took up wrestling in this, his senior year, wrestled in the heavyweight division and had a great tournament. He opened the day with a pin over South Oldham’s Tanner Goodlett, which advanced him into the semifinals where he lost a 2-0 decision to North Oldham’s Landin Jones. Reyes bounced back and pinned Western Hills’s Jacob Rhody to advance to the 3rd/4th-place match, where he lost by a pin to Oldham County’s Ian Fullerton to finish in fourth place. 6th Place Hunter Selby had a long day at region, but fought hard and qualified for the state tournament. The sophomore opened the day in the 152-pound weight class with a loss by a pin to Scott County’s Jermaine Barber. Selby then pinned Spencer County’s Anthony Gatrost in his next match, and followed that with a loss by a 9-2 decision to Franklin County’s Cameron Bixler. The loss moved Selby to the 5th/6th-place match, where he lost to South Oldham’s Alex Thompson to finish in sixth place. Jack Hill also qualified for state in the 220-pound weight class. The sophomore opened with a loss by a pin to Oldham County’s Caleb Ayres. Following a bye in his next match, Hill then lost a 13-7 decision to South Oldham’s Tyler Kassinger. With that loss, Hill moved to the 5th/6th-place match where he won a 7-4 decision over Scott County’s Tano Travino to finish in fifth place.

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