The Martin wrestling team claimed a state championship in the 138-pound division and was the overall runner-up at the recent state championship meet. And the future looks even brighter, said coach Patrick Dunn.
Jose Taylor, the gold medalist for the Warriors, is “actually Martin’s first sophomore state champ ever,” Dunn said.
“As the season progressed and as he got better and more confident in himself, I definitely thought he would win it, once we got to state tournament,” Dunn said.
“I feel amazing that I won state,” Taylor said. “It took a lot of hard work, and I had to keep focused. I’m really dedicated to the sport.”
Right behind him was Tanner Kuketz, also a sophomore, in the 120-pound division. Kuketz was wrestling despite a leg injury and recent surgery but still brought home the silver.
“I feel like I did OK, but I was disappointed in the ending results,” Kuketz said last week. “If there is anything I would have done differently, it would be to have had more confidence in myself.”
In the 106-pound division, junior Bryson Douglas took third place. “He’s really improved, too,” Dunn said. “I mean, he placed third in the region and third in state.” He noted the potential for Douglas to challenge for gold in his senior season.
Another wounded Warrior at the meet was sophomore Wyatt Alvis, wrestling in the 126-pound division, who placed sixth.
“I was a little mad about placing sixth, but since I hurt my leg my first match of the tournament, I guess I did all right,” Alvis said.
To Dunn, Alvis did more than all right. “He wrestled on a dislocated kneecap the entire tournament and then, it just got where it would just pop out anytime he would move. I mean, he was in so much pain, it was like, ‘You’ve placed. You’ve done a great job, you know. Let’s pull you,’ and his main concern was, ‘How many more points can I score for the team?’ ”
With three sophomores and a junior finishing highest and several of them wrestling hurt, Dunn is excited about the future.
“We got almost everybody back, so we should be real good for the next years to come,” he said.
Kuketz and Alvis credited their coaches’ enthusiasm and the team atmosphere for the program’s success.
“My coaching and my wrestling partners are what brought me to get second in the state, and as long we have the coaches and positive vibes in the room, the program will continue to make good progress,” Kuketz said.
Taylor added, “I feel that our program set goals as a team, which made individuals want to perform better to help with getting points.”