Keller Central junior aims for state wrestling title

Posted Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Ryan Lindberg’s passion for the sport of wrestling started at a young age.

The Keller Central junior was a fan of other sports growing up, but wrestling was the one that always has and continues to fuel his desire to be a great athlete.

“I love the work you have to put into it and the mindset,” said Lindberg, who did not compete in 2012 after transferring from Keller Fossil Ridge. “Everything about it — the practices and competition and just everything appeals to me.”

Now, on the precipice of the competition that could achieve for him his ultimate goal in the sport, a UIL state wrestling championship, Lindberg reflected on how it began for him many years ago.

“I was 7 years old when I started wrestling, and I just loved it,” he said. “ I was just like naturally talented in it and it felt right.”

Central coach Bill Wilson said it is precisely Lindberg’s extensive level of experience and work ethic that have allowed him to achieve what he has in the sport.

“He’s wrestled his whole life,” Wilson said. “His balance and speed and natural ability are very, very high. I think that’s what makes him a great wrestler.”

The tournament runs Friday and Saturday at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland.

Lindberg, who is 16-1 in the 106-pound weight class heading into the state tournament, defeated Jaxon Keller of Amarillo Tascosa by a score of 1-0 at the regional tournament in the championship match.

Wilson said he believes that there is a good chance that the state championship match at 106 pounds could be a repeat of the regional championship.

The Central coach said for Lindberg to make it 2-0 this season against Keller, he will need to focus on what got him to this point.

“I think he just needs to keep wrestling like he has,” Wilson said. “He’s already wrestled the best and beat the best, but he’s going to have to prove it again.

“It’s hard sometimes to beat the same kid twice because they make the adjustments and you don’t. He has to turn around and prove it all over again.”

Lindberg, who said that a state championship would mean more to him than anything, is not lacking in confidence heading into the tournament.

“My goal is to win state,” Lindberg said. “It would mean everything to me. That’s what I’m planning on, and I’m going to do it.”

Wrestlers to watch

Boys

Blake Andrews, Sr., Grapevine

Weight class, record: 220 pounds, 31-0

Andrews finished second at state last year, and could be involved in the most intriguing matchup of the tournament, which would involve two Tarrant County wrestlers. Keller Fossil Ridge’s Keith McGee is also undefeated and won the Region I championship. Andrews won the Region II title. Andrews and McGee have not met this season, and their only match could be for the state championship. Andrews is headed to Ouachita Baptist on a full wrestling scholarship. “I heard he’s a specimen,” Grapevine coach Kent Hall said. “I’d like to see them both get there, because I think it would be a good match.”

Keith McGee, Jr., Keller Fossil Ridge

Weight class, record: 220, 30-0

The transfer from Illinois won a state championship two years ago and was voted “Most Outstanding Wrestler” at the Region I tournament two weeks ago. McGee has not surrendered so much as a takedown all season, and coach Tony Lopez said that he, too, believes McGee vs. Andrews would make for a good finals. “I think he’s [McGee] got a great chance to win state,” Lopez said. “I have seen some film on Andrews. We’re prepared, and if we wrestle smart and get through the rest of the bracket, hopefully things will shape up for a good final.”

Joseph Bunyavong, Sr., FW Carter-Riverside

Weight class, record: 120, 32-6

The pedigree is there for the Carter-Riverside senior to be on the medal stand: This is Bunyavong’s second trip to state in two years. Bunyavong, who finished fourth at region last year, claimed the Region II championship this season, and coach Sean Seder said that while Bunyavong has only wrestled two years, he has made great progress in that time. “I’m cautiously optimistic,” Seder said. “He’s done pretty well this year. He’s kind of an unorthodox wrestler, in that all of the things you tell a kid not to do, he purposely goes out and does and catches kids in weird positions. He’s had a lot of success with it.”

Dustin Martinez, Sr., Saginaw Boswell

Weight class, record: 170, 26-8

Martinez finished sixth at region as a junior last year before claiming the regional championship in 2014, and coach Josh Cadenhead said the Boswell senior has worked hard this year to get to where he is. “He’s kicked it up to the next level,” Cadenhead said. “He’s focused; he’s talked about making it to state all year long and placing. He does not just want to make it, he wants to place.”

Girls

Daysha Woods, Sr., Arlington Sam Houston

Weight class, record: 102, 45-0

Woods is a four-time district and two-time regional champion, and has qualified for state all four years of her high school wrestling career. The Sam Houston senior finished third at state last year, and is primed to challenge for a state title. “Daysha Woods is a hard-working wrestler who is willing to put in the time and dedication to achieve her goals,” coach Amy McNease said.

Martina Martinez, Sr., Saginaw

Weight class, record: 138, 23-0

Voted the “Most Outstanding Wrestler” at this year’s District 5 tournament, Martinez has won multiple tournaments, including the Texas Ladies Classic in Frisco, Eagle Mountain-Saginaw, the Arlington Lamar Invitational, the Red River Shootout in Vernon, and the 4A Region 2 Tournament. The four-time district champion finished fourth in last year’s state tournament, and coach Mark Springer is confident his senior wrestler will be in the mix this weekend. “We believe she will find the medal stand once again,” Springer said.

Bryanna Perkins, Soph., Keller Central

Weight class, record: 185, 29-2

Lindberg will be joined at state by Perkins, whose only two losses on the season came to last year’s 4A state champion, Azle’s Jesse Grubbs. Coach Bill Wilson said he believes Perkins has a great shot at state. “She’s beaten both the No. 1 and No. 2 wrestlers from Region I at 215 pounds,” Wilson said. “We wrestle her against whoever is toughest, and she usually wins.”

Jessie Ausman, Soph., Justin Northwest

Weight class, record: 119, 30-7

Ausman was a state alternate in 2013, and coach Dan McCready said he feels good about her chances at finishing in the top three at the state meet. “I feel really good about her chances,” McCready said. “Her first and second round are against people we have already wrestled, so I feel she can repeat her performance and beat them.” Ausman has only wrestled for two years, and won a preseason national championship at a tournament in Iowa.

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