Deerfield-Widsor may have one of the youngest wrestling teams in the state, but that didn't stop the Knights from sending five individuals to the GISA state championship meet in Perry.
Three of the five wrestlers from DWS who qualified for the state meet (Feb. 5-6) during Thursday's region tournament are eighth-graders. The top four wrestlers in each weight class in the Region 3-AAA meet earned the trip to Perry.
Mac Lanier, a junior, won the 135-pound region title for DWS, and freshman Chandler Lane finished third at 119 pounds.
Eighth graders Tripp Pressley (fourth at 103 pounds), Graham Harpole (third at 112), and Devon Cooper (third at 130 pounds) all qualified.
"We did pretty well for such a young team,'' said DWS coach Scott Horton, who doesn't have a senior on his team.
Just up the road at Southland, meanwhile, the news was even better.
The Raiders will send nine wrestlers to the individual state tournament in Perry, including region champions Ryan Singley (119 pounds), Chance Isreal (125), Ethan Smith (160) and Bo Minor (285). Also going to state will be Brandon Jones (second at 215), Jake Wood (third at 103), Matthew Garland (runner-up at 145), Lawton Williams (152, runner-up), and Andrew Alexander (third at 189).
"That's about average for us, and I really look for big things from Ethan and Bo, both of whom are undefeated (Ethan is 21-0 and Bo is 19-0)," said Southland coach Mike Smith, whose team last won a state individual title in the 2007-08 season when Brett Collier was crowned. "But I would keep an eye on Ryan Singley and Chance Isreal -- both of them have lost just on match all year and are really close to (breaking through)."
Smith said the next two weeks between now and state will be crucial.
The game plan?
"We want to be the team that beats you in the third round (of a match) -- the best conditioned team on the mat," Smith said. "So the next two weeks we'll be focused on conditioning and live wrestling. They've got enough information and instruction during the season, they know everything they need to. Now we just have to make sure we're in shape (so we can execute)."