• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Board honors state wrestling champion Chase Yost

CHASE YOST, an eighth-grader at Woodford County Middle School, was honored by the Woodford County Board of Education on Monday for winning an individual state title at the KHSSA State Wrestling Championships on Feb. 19 and 20. Chase and his Woodford County High School teammates finished second in the team standings. From left are board member Margie Cleveland, WCHS wrestling Coach Rusty Parks, Chase, and board member Karen Brock. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Winning a state title at the 2016 KHSAA State Wrestling Championships was a huge accomplishment for Chase Yost, an eighth-grader at Woodford County Middle School. Work ethic and mental toughness earned Chase an individual state title, according to Woodford County High School wrestling Coach Rusty Parks. He said, "There are not very many kids that work as hard as he does." When other wrestlers across the state were not working out during the off-season, Parks said Chase was putting in the time to make himself a better wrestler - sometimes working out three times a day. Regularly wrestling more-experienced teammates (Tylan Tucker and Tucker Hurst) in practice helped prepare Chase for the rigors of competing to win a high school state title, according to Parks, who described his team's practices as being "tougher than a lot of the tournaments" during the regular season. The Woodford County Board of Education honored Chase for becoming a state champion at its regular meeting on Monday night. "I just wanted to thank my coaches and teammates for helping me to accomplish this goal," said Chase, 14. When he advanced to the KHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Feb. 19 and 20, Chase relied on his mental toughness and focus to win close matches against the best Kentucky wrestlers in his 106-pound division. "He literally had to take out the toughest kids in the weight class," said Parks. During some very close matches, Parks said, his team's state champion "was able to stay tough and keep his mind on the prize and keep wrestling. "That's something that we preach every day to these kids - wrestle for six minutes . And Chase is a great example of that . he didn't give up until that last whistle." "I just thought about all of the work that I put in and that kind of kept me going," said Chase during an interview last Friday. In the semifinals of the KHSAA State Championships, Chase had to defeat Nate Wheeler, a St. Xavier wrestler who had beaten him in the regular season - one of only two losses suffered by the WCHS wrestler. A 3-2 decision over Wheeler advanced Chase to the finals, where he pulled out a 4-2 overtime win over Cagen Wallace of Wayne County. Chase fell behind 2-0 in the first period, but rebounded by wearing down his opponent in the second period before scoring two points in the third period to force overtime. When he scored two points in the extra period, Chase didn't immediately realize he had won the match and a state title. "I looked in the corner and I saw my coaches jumping up. And I looked back . and I saw some of my coaches all the way on the other side of the arena kind of jumping up . And then I looked in the back and our whole crowd . they were all going crazy. And then I finally realized it." He had won a state high school wrestling title as an eighth-grader, but "at the time," he added, "I didn't really realize what I had just done." In the back of his mind during his championship match, Chase always "knew that I could tire him down just because of my conditioning." The cardio-conditioning of WCHS wrestlers, which comes from hours of running and hard work, paid dividends for Chase in his quest to win a state wrestling title. When his opponents were getting tired at the end of a match, Chase relied on "his gas tank, (which) is huge. My man does not get tired. He just keeps going and going," said Parks. Because of the sheer number of ranked wrestlers Chase had to defeat to win his individual state title while helping WCHS to a second-place finish in the team standings, the eighth-grader should have been named Most Outstanding Wrestler, Parks said. Parks, who has known about Chase since his days with the Woodford Youth Wrestling program, said the decision to bring the eighth-grader onto the WCHS team was made in consultation with his father, Jeremy Yost. Chase won a middle school state title as a seventh-grader so "he had nothing else to prove in middle school," said Parks. Being a state champion in middle school was a tremendous achievement, but Chase said winning a state title as a WCHS wrestler "meant way more" because he remembers being inspired as a little kid by wrestlers representing WCHS at the KHSAA State Championships. So having an opportunity to follow in their path is very meaningful to him. "The coaches I have now are the people who I . watched (wrestle for WCHS) as a little kid," said Chase. He started wrestling at age 5, and appreciates the life lessons he's learned on a wrestling mat. Jeremy Yost was a high school wrestler and shared his love for the sport with his son as a coach. "My dad," said Chase, "he's super-inspiring to me. He just kept motivating me to work hard." "Wrestling has given Chase so much more than learning a sport," said mom Tracy Yost in an email. "It has provided lifelong friendships, a hard work ethic, humility and respect - all things that a parent wants to instill in their child. "The community has been so supportive of him," she said. ".Chase has so many mentors through wrestling. His current coaches, past Woodford wrestlers, parents . They have shown him that Woodford wrestling and Woodford County is a family, and when things get tough he can persevere." Finishing fourth in the state as a sixth-grader - after being away from wrestling for nearly two years - helped Chase realize he "had to start going a lot harder than everybody else" if he wanted to become a state champion. Earning a spot on the podium as a sixth-grader also meant Chase would represent Kentucky at nationals - where he'd compete against some of the best wrestlers in the country. He didn't win a match, but said the experience helped him become a better wrestler when he advanced to nationals again as a seventh-grader. Chase was named Kentucky's Most Outstanding Wrestler and an All-American while winning seven of eight matches on his second go-round at nationals. With four more years of high school eligibility, Chase has an opportunity to help build another state championship team at WCHS while seeking to reach a personal milestone, Parks said. "We're looking for Chase Yost to make history at Woodford County and be the (school's) first five-time state champion," said Parks. Having been around Woodford County wrestling for 22 years and winning a state title himself during his sophomore at WCHS, Parks understands the challenges that come with trying to win consecutive state titles. "He's got the target on his back. People are gunning for him. They want to beat him," said Parks. "But at the same time, he's got to keep training and working hard - and he's got to know those guys are gunning for him. So that means he's got to step up his work ethic a little bit more . He's got to train harder." Chase understands the challenges that lie ahead if he wants to continue winning state titles, and have a shot at making history. He knows he must focus on winning his next match before looking ahead to his second state title. And because of his unwillingness to back down from a wrestling challenge, Parks knows, "Nobody can beat Chase Yost in his mind." So as Parks prepares for his third season of leading the wrestling program at WCHS, he predicted, "We'll have a ton of kids coming in next year wanting to be the next Chase Yost." The eighth-grader smiled when he heard his coach's words repeated to him.

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