The 2009 State High School Wrestling Championships open today in Frankfort and seven Harrison County Thorobreds will be competing.
Sophomore Brandon Barnett leads those grapplers as the only Thorobred to come away from last weekend’s Region 7 Tournament as a weight class champion.
Barnett went a perfect 3-0 in the 171 weight class to earn his second consecutive trip to the state championships. In his first match of the day, the third-seeded Barnett pinned Nick Guagliardo of Woodford County in 1:41 of the first period. In the semifinals, he won a hard-fought 3-2 decision over second-seeded Josh Bell of Western Hills and in the finals pinned top-seeded Nick Leddy of Dunbar in 1:50 of the first period.
As a team, Harrison County placed fifth overall, just about where Head Coach Russ Riegel expected.
“That’s just about exactly where we were in the pre and post-season expectations,” said Riegel. “Woodford County was projected to be the top team and finished first overall. Henry Clay was projected as being the second best team and that’s where they finished, and Franklin County was picked to be third, and that’s where they finished. Tates Creek was the only question mark. We didn’t wrestle them this year, but they beat us by six points on Saturday to take fourth.”
Senior Andy Lenz was top-seeded at 112, but was unable to make weight on Saturday morning and was bumped up two weight classes to 125. He lost his first match of the day to Bourbon County’s John Stout in a close 9-8 decision. Lenz battled back in the consolation bracket and salvaged a third-place finish by pinning Andrew Smith of Dunbar in 58 seconds, winning a major decision over Derek Mauser of Franklin County, 11-2, then getting revenge over Stout in the consolation finals with a 14-5 decision. He finished third overall and advanced to the state championships.
Another senior, Cody Ward, also advanced to the state championships with a third place finish. Ward went 3-1 and finished third at 130. He won a major decision over Chris Kerr of Tates Creek in the first round, then lost a tough 7-2 decision to eventual champion Bryan Thompson of Franklin County. Ward battled back to win his last two matches and take third place. He won by fall over David English of Lafayette and defeated Joe Whalen of Henry Clay in the finals, 5-1.
Josh Moss and Kaleb Berry both reached the finals in their respective weight classes, but both were relegated to second place finishes.
Moss, second-seeded heading into the tournament at 135, had an easy time in the first two rounds. He pinned Seth McLetchi of Lafayette in the first round and cruised past Patrick Blevins of Woodford County in the semifinals, winning 18-10. In the finals, Moss lost an overtime decision to Jack Podgorski of Henry Clay, 12-8.
Kaleb Berry, also second-seeded, won his first match by pinning Tuyler Burlingham of Lafayette, then won a major decision over Seth Kimbrell of Tates Creek in the 140 semis. In the finals, Berry lost a 5-3 decision to Cody Guiler of Henry Clay.
Chris Brunker, fifth seeded coming in, exceeded expectations and took third at 145. He defeated Nate LaLonde of Tates Creek in the opening round, 9-3, then lost to Woodford County’s Brian White in the second round, 11-2. Brunker fought back in the consolation bracket and won two straight to take third place, winning both by falls. He pinned Greg Stringer of Dunbar in the consolation semis and then made short work of Madison Central’s Chris Payer in just 29 seconds.
Coty Berry was the last Thorobred to qualify for the state championships. He finished fourth overall at 152, winning three and losing two on the day. Both losses came to Ryan Duzek of Henry Clay. Duzek beat Berry in the first round 13-5, then in the consolation finals, 6-0. Sandwiched in between, Berry won three straight matches in the consolation bracket, all by falls. He pinned Greg Colpey of Madison Central, Mark Hager of Bourbon County and Phillip Cornett of Bryan Station.
“I was proud of the effort that all the boys gave, including the boys that did not qualify for the state,” said Riegel. “We are looking forward to competing in the state championships with great pride.”