• Bill Caine, Woodford Sun Staff

Mat Jackets win Woodford duals, finish second in Indiana

C.J. CARDWELL drives his opponent into the mat during the Woodford Duals on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at Woodford County High School. (Photo by Bill Caine)

The Woodford County High School wrestling team had an action packed week competing in duals in Indiana and hosting the Woodford Duals. The Jackets finished the week with a 5-1 record.

On Saturday, Dec. 2 the Mat Jackets competed at the Mater Dei five way duals in Evansville, Ind. and went 3-1 for the event. The round one matchup was against Mater Dei and the Jackets were swept in the event 68-0.

“The Mater Dei match was rough for us,” said Coach Rusty Parks. “We needed that in some ways. I wanted to see how my kids would battle back from a tough experience like that. It's where you find out who you are and what you are made of. We have guys like Ronan Wyatt on our team that inspire others. He could be down 14-0 and he's still fighting like the match is even. That inspires others.”

In the second round the Jackets battled Belleville Althoff, Ill and won 42-30.

“This was a tough opponent for us and I like the fire that came from our guys,” said Parks. “Chase Yost really dominated for us and Gavin Andreoni was great. He's an eighth grader and had three pins for the day. These Midwest teams are always tough and nothing is a sure thing when you face teams like this. They certainly gave us a run for our money but our guys were able to pick themselves up after the hard first round and respond with a team win and that was great to see.”

In the third round, the Jackets defeated Carbondale, Ill 45-25

“Carbondale had some very tough individuals that we faced,” said Parks. “This is a very competitive team that we faced. When you battle these out of state schools the results are hit or miss. We did a great job taking care of business against a scrappy team. The matches we didn't win could have gone either way.”

In the fourth and final round, the Jackets had their biggest victory of the day 48-22 over North Posey, Ind.

“When this round was over, we talked about how this day could have been 0-4 had the guys let the first round get them down,” said Parks. “We talked about how great it was to see them battle adversity and working together as a group.”

On Wednesday, Nov. 29, the Jackets hosted the Woodford Duals against Central Hardin and Taylor County.

In the first round, the Jackets dominated Central Hardin for a score of 78-0. Senior Jack Hill was terrific in his match winning in less than 30 seconds. The Jackets all dominated their matches in the first round.

“Jack Hill is one of those kids that when you speak to him outside of wrestling, he's one of the nicest kids you can meet,” said Parks. “When that whistle blows, it's like someone unleashes a monster and his opponents find out really quick that he's all business.”

“I love to see my guys fire right out of the gate,” said Parks. “We were ready at the first whistle and never looked back.”

In the second round, the competition was tougher from Taylor County, but the Jackets were able to win the dual by a score of 42-25.

“They have some tough wrestlers on that team,” said Parks. “Our cardio is terrific and we were able to grind out some tough matches. I tell my guys all the time, be ready to wrestle for 10 minutes. That's three rounds and two overtimes. If they are ready for that kind of a fight, they can handle anybody. I felt like this was a great way for us to get our feet wet before we started our travel schedule.”

Parks is an animated coach during matches. The wrestlers seem to feed off of his energy as they walk onto the mat to compete. As a past state champion, Parks knows firsthand that hard work can make a champion.

“Our wrestling room is home for me,” said Parks. I've spent my entire life to this point living and breathing Woodford County wrestling and I will give these kids all of my energy while I'm here. We are a tight family and none of us want to lose. We all have that in common. I feel like athletes turn out like their coach. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.”

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