After eight years in Austin, the UIL Wrestling State Tournament has come to the Metroplex. The Curtis Culwell Center in Garland will play host to the tournament that runs Feb. 14-15. With nine state qualifiers and three alternates, Keller ISD should have a strong showing this weekend.
Keller: The District 4-5A champion Indians are hoping junior Phil Young will capture the 182-pound weight class in his second year at state. Joining him will be junior Bobby Reynolds in the 285-pound weight class and sophomore alternate Brittany Olvera in the 165-pound weight class.
“Our boys team has been in a growing up process over the last several years,” said Keller head coach James Schee. “It has been fun to see them have success this year.”
Young has an advantage this year.
Never miss a local story.
“Phil qualified for state last year, so he has a year of experience under his belt and is a little less nervous. He’ll be ready and he can share his experience with Bobby,” Schee said. “Bobby is wrestling at his very best now and both kids have a good chance to medal.”
Both Reynolds and Young are 32-4 before the state tournament.
“Phil won his challenge match to advance to state. He came in fourth in regionals which doesn’t make it easy right off the bat,” Schee said. “It is the ones who are able to come back from a lost match that will be on the medal stand.”
Olvera just missed placing at regionals last year and came in fifth this year to place as alternate.
“We expect the kids to advance from year to year and that’s what she has done,” said Schee. “She works really hard.”
Central: The Chargers head to state with five qualifiers.
“These kids are really good wrestlers, and they are all capable of knocking off top ranked athletes,” said Central head coach Bill Wilson. “I feel like all of our qualifiers are poised to make some waves this year.”
The Chargers boast two regional champions, junior Ryan Lindberg at 106 pounds and sophomore Bryanna Perkins at 185 pounds.
“Both are sitting in a great place to make the state finals,” said Wilson.
Junior Dylan Faucett finished third in the 138-pound weight class at regionals.
Senior Kareem Simms placed third in regionals at 126 pounds and freshman Blaine Martinez placed fourth at 120 pounds. Junior Kolby Finchum placed second in the 220-pound weight class at regionals.
“Every one of these kids is a proven commodity,” Wilson said. “We have an excellent shot at bringing home several medals, and we have multiple athletes that could win the state tournament.”
Fossil Ridge: Junior Keith McGee was named was named Outstanding Wrestler at the regional tournament. The Panthers’ 220-pound regional champion is trying to keep his undefeated streak intact.
“Keith’s greatest strength is probably his experience,” said head coach Anthony Lopez. “He has wrestled since elementary school and he is very competitive.”
Despite moving to Fossil Ridge last year, McGee has hit his stride.
“He had a good group of teammates that he grew up with and left behind,” said Lopez. “Getting to know the kids here has been more of a challenge but wrestling has been no problem.”
Timber Creek: Rounding out the list of KISD contenders is the regional 215-pound girls champion Rachel Bridges. A freshman, Bridges was awarded Outstanding Female Wrestler at the regional tournament.
“She has an outstanding work ethic and is very coachable,” said head coach Brent Wasche. “She was also the starting right guard for our freshman A football team, so she is tough.”
As a first-year wrestler, Bridges has translated her football experience well.
“As a guard she is used to driving and using her legs and leverage,” Wasche said. “She has good body awareness and she is very smart in and out of wrestling. She is a good student and picks things up quickly.”
The Falcons also take alternates Brandon Bricker at 195 pounds and Jamie Paterson at 113 pounds.
For complete state tournament information, visit www.uiltexas.com.