Tuesday, February 07, 2012

SPORTS >> Panthers take second in Central wrestling

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers made a fine showing at the 7A Central Conference wrestling tournament on Saturday at North Little Rock High School. The Panthers finished second in team points with 171-.5, 37.5 behind winner Little Rock Central.

Cabot had wrestlers in 12 of the 14 weight classes. Six made it to the finals and two took first place in their respective class.

“I think we’ve done pretty well,” Cabot coach Jason Rogers said. “We’ve guys in the finals of half of our weight classes we entered. We needed to pretty much win out in all of them to catch Central, so we knew that was a longshot. But overall I think the guys have done a very good job.”

Erik Cooley won the 126-pound division. Cooley was 13-6 on the season entering the tournament. He received a bye in the first round then beat Catholic’s Henry Yeary to advance to the title match.

There he faced Central Tiger Jaylen Webster and dominated the three-round bout 13-5.

Cabot’s other champion was 145-pound Tyler Kurz. Kurz, who entered the match with an impressive 22-1 record, also received a first-round bye. In the semifinals he pinned North Little Rock’s Detirick Deshazier just 1:28 into the bout.

His championship match was over even quicker. Kurz pinned Bryant’s Brett Blend in 1:26.

138-pound Panther Daniel Davis was one of four second-place finishers for Cabot. He pinned Marlon Cuevas of Russellville at 3:53 in the semifinals. He then lost to Van Buren’s John Haywood 11-5.

In the 152-pound division, Cabot’s Kyle Wheeler, who entered the tournament with an impressive season record of 18-3, pinned Matt Mears in just 19 seconds in the quarterfinal round. He won a close 7-5 decision over Andrew Elam of Russellville in the semifinals to advance to the championship round. There he faced Central’s Tyler Mann, who is ranked in the top 30 nationally and sported a 29-1 record coming into the tournament. Mann pinned Wheeler with less than one second remaining in the first round.

Cabot’s other two second-place finishers were Chase Campbell in the 182-pound division, and Keith Pledger of the 285-pound division.

Campbell was 16-2 entering the tournament. He pinned Bryant’s Colton Caviness at the 2:08 mark in the quarterfinals. He pinned Khalil Campbell of North Little Rock at 3:24 to advance to the finals. There he lost to undefeated Van Buren wrestler Lucas Ardemagni (23-0) by pin with just 20 seconds left in the bout.

Pledger also faced an eye-popping record in his championship bout. He lost his championship match 8-4 to 32-1 Keidrick Usifo of LR Central.

Before that, Pledger beat Hubert Bryant of Central in the quarterfinal round by pin at 1:15. Then got by Conway’s Brannon Kotch, who quit the match due to injury with Pledger leading 6-3.

In the 106-pound division, Hayden Mills took third place by beating Conner Perkins of Catholic High in the finals of the consolation bracket. Mills won the match by pin at the 3:32 mark.

The class 7A state finals are Saturday at UALR.