Making a state-ment: Plano ISD qualifies five grapplers for Austin
ALLEN -- Plenty of districts or regions lay claim to toughest in the state in a variety of sports, but when it comes to wrestling, there is little question that supremacy lies with Region II-5A.
"If you can advance out of this region, that's really saying something," said Jay Pryor, Plano head coach. "And it means you absolutely have a chance to place at state."
Consider that good news for a six pack of locals as Plano East's Luciana Schement and Anthony Do, Plano West's Cole Williams and Dean Roudi, Plano Senior's Michael Kubik and McKinney Boyd's Alex Minor advanced to the UIL Wrestling State Tournament with their performances at Friday and Saturday's regional tournament in Allen.
"Winning here definitely gives me more confidence," Schement said. "I haven't seen a lot of these girls from Houston wrestle, but I think I can go far."
Schement improved her season record to 33-0 with a trio of wins at regionals.
The most difficult of the bunch for the 119-pounder came in the finals against Natalie Martinez of South Grand Prairie. Schement trailed after the first period, 3-2, but found herself in a 5-5 tie with less than 50 seconds to go in the third. Only Schement didn't know the score was tied.
"I knew [Martinez] had gotten the takedown, so I wasn't sure what the score was," she said. "I thought I might have been behind."
Schement made an escape with 21 seconds remaining to take a 6-5 lead, but thought the score might be tied and kept pushing, scoring a pin with 4.8 seconds left.
"I had the single and coach was yelling, 'crossface, crossface' and I saw she was on her knees, so I went for the pin," Schement said.
Schement's first-place finish was matched by Minor (106), who followed his Feb. 2 district win over Allen's Howard Smith with a 4-2 victory in Saturday's regional finals rematch. Much like the first bout, Minor trailed after the opening two minutes.
"I might have given up on a match like that in the past," Minor said. "But I've changed my mentality since then and it helped me win today."
Minor was the lone McKinney ISD wrestler to advance to state.
Schement will have company from Plano ISD though, including East teammate Do.
Do (160) went 5-2 and placed fourth over the two-day event, registering the fastest boys pinfall for the tournament as he defeated Coppell's Matt Olson in 13 seconds in the consolation semifinals. Do lost in the consolation finals, but defeated Colleyville Heritage's Caleb Endert in a wrestleback to keep his state spot.
The other PISD school to advance multiple wrestlers was West.
That pairing includes Williams (132), who finished fourth and became the first freshman Wolves wrestler to ever advance to state.
"I was very pleased with how Cole did," said Shawn Smith, West head coach. "He felt getting to state was an attainable goal, worked hard to reach it and exceeded a lot of people's expectations."
Williams, who went 4-2, might have also motivated senior teammate Roudi (145).
"Those two are workout partners," Smith said. "So I think when Dean saw Cole made it that was a big motivation for him. He was on a whole different level after that."
Roudi finished third after going 4-1 with his lone loss to 145-pound champion Scott Akers of Flower Mound in the semifinals. Roudi won his two consolation bouts emphatically, including a finals victory over Lake Highlands' T.J. Grieder, who had bested Roudi at the Tri-State Meet.
"Dean did a better job countering and defending this time," Smith said.
A rematch is something many fans were hoping for at 182 after Allen's Matt Meyer defeated Kubik in the District 8-5A Finals a week prior in a match that was delayed by five minutes due to a rules challenge. That rematch wouldn't come to fruition though as Kubik was defeated by Grapevine's Blake Andrews (the No. 2 wrestler in the state behind Meyer), 2-1, in the semifinals.
"Yeah, I know Michael wanted that rematch," Pryor said, "but he was a little under the weather today and couldn't quite pull that match out."
Kubik, who also had a sore shoulder, finished his bracket in third place at 4-1 after scoring a major decision and pinfall in consolation bouts. This is Kubik's second straight state qualification.
"[Kubik is] in," Pryor said. "That's what really matters and I think he's got a great shot to place at state."
Similar aspirations are no doubt in place for all the grapplers as they prepare for the Feb. 21-23 competition at the Delco Center in Austin.
"I'm feeling more and more confident each week," Minor said. "But at this stage, you can't look ahead of the task at hand."