One of the state’s toughest districts for wrestling competition is likely District 4-6A, and local teams will be hard-pressed to advance to the Region II meet in February.
The district is loaded with some of the state’s best wrestlers, with Carroll, Keller Central, Timber Creek, Keller and Fossil Ridge all boasting returning regional or state qualifiers.
Carroll will feature 10 wrestlers who qualified for the regional meet, with three having made it to the state tournament and an additional wrestler as an alternate.
Of those qualifiers, Jack Duval was a state placer, picking up sixth as a junior. He will be a returning district and regional champion.
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The senior is back to improve on that finish, and Duval said his early season competition has him ready for a brutal schedule.
Duval competed in the Las Vegas “Freakshow” tournament, finishing eighth, followed by the Super 32 tournament in Greensboro, N.C., recently.
Last weekend, he joined another pairing of 32 of the top teams in the state at the Warrior Invitational in Arlington.
Duval is ranked third in the state in the 160 pound class by Wrestlingtexas.com.
He will be competing at 170 early in the season and will eventually work his way down prior to the district meet.
With so many quality opponents in the region, what’s the difference that will help Duval achieve his goal of matching former Dragons wrestler Robert Prigmore of collecting the second state wrestling title for Carroll?
“Dedication,” Duval said. “When I completely dedicate myself to something, I can’t do it halfway,” he said.
As an example, Duval said he didn’t miss a single club team practice for three years straight.
“I could not knowingly blow off a practice. It made such a difference,” he said. “It’s made such a difference. I’ve seen how much I’ve matured emotionally and physically and understand all the things that are important. I have to keep the right mindset and stay optimistic.”
Duval said his parents thought he’d enjoy a two-week camp when he was in seventh grade.
There has been no looking back, as Duval said he fell in love with the sport immediately.
His physical style of wrestling coupled with his athleticism has been a deadly combination for his opponents.
But his yearly quest begins again with hopes to peak just ahead of the district tournament and a postseason run again.
“Coach [Joe] Hathaway always says, ‘No one peaks in November,’ and our program is designed to have us peak when it matters,” Duval said. “After the last few years I trust him and I believe it.”
The Dragons will add more ultra-tough meets in addition to the Warrior Invitational. Carroll will compete at two tournaments in Oklahoma and in Allen’s Texas Outlaw Invitational, a 32-team event Jan. 1-2.
Along with Duval, Carroll will be a threat down the stretch with other returning state qualifiers Clay Vincent Cameron Haddock and alternate Zach Francis.
Heavyweight Lucas Tribble is ranked sixth, while Adam Lindberg, Zach Chelf, Andrei Steinjann, Jacob Mazey and Jacob Doddridge – all regional placers or qualifiers – will help round out a solid Dragons lineup.
District 4-6A overview
Other standout wrestlers in the district include: Central has three returning state tournament placers in Jake Hart, Blaine Martinez and DeMone McClinton while Bryanna Perkins was third at state. Keller’s Derek Stair is a regional qualifier and Brittany Olvera was a state alternate. Timber Creek’s Jamie Patterson is a state placer and currently ranked fourth. The Falcons are stout with regional qualifiers Christian Horrigan, Chase Carter, Nathan Grimes and Darian Taylor. Austin Fox (152) was a state alternate, and sophomore Rachel Bridges will return as the returning heavyweight state champion. Fossil Ridge has a returning state qualifier in Jerrod McKinstry (152) and three regional qualifiers in Devin Miller, Brendan Medlin and Frantony Lewis. Haltom has a returning regional qualifier in Tyree Smith and two girls district champs in Emalee Castro and Ally Lemmons. Byron Nelson has the state’s second-ranked 220-pounder, Tucker Olsen.