Tuesday, February 26, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers earn two titles at 5A state wrestling

Leader sportswriter

It was a successful weekend for the Beebe wrestling team as the Badgers came away with two individual state titles, one runner-up finish as part of an overall team runner-up performance in the 1A-5A state wrestling finals at the Jack Stephens Center on Saturday.

Sophomore Aaron Nunez and senior Jared Presley each captured state championships in their division, as Nunez won the 145-pound division and Presley took first in the 170-pound weight group. Senior Brody Welcher also made it to the finals in the 220-pound division, but fell to CAC’s Jason Kidder in the championship match.

Overall, Beebe placed eight medalists in the final day, and finished second in team points with 195.5 to team winner Maumelle, which had 288.5 points. CAC finished third overall in front of Little Rock Christian and Bismark.

Freshman Destiny Nunez was one of few female entries, and finished fourth in the 106-pound division for Beebe’s first medal of the night, followed by another fourth-place performance by Micah Dubose in the 120-pound class. Matthew Whitaker was fifth in the 132 class and Alex Warner was fifth in the 182 class. Christopher Gilly-McNair also earned a medal for Beebe with a fifth-place performance in the 195-pound weight group.

Nunez was the first of the individual state-title contenders for Beebe with a match against Maumelle’s Willie Wright. It didn’t take long for the sophomore, who is also starting quarterback on the Badger football team, to claim victory as he pinned Wright 1:29 into the first round.

The title bout between Nunez and Wright also served as a rubber match for the grapplers.

“We’ve faced off before, I won the first one, he won the second one,” Nunez said. “I just went down and started warming up, put my headphones on. I knew I had to get my mind right before I went down there, and that’s what I did. From the start, I knew it was my game.”

In an age where most kids try to specialize in one sport or another, Nunez slimmed his list of athletic endeavors down to three sports this year as opposed to the four he pursued as a freshman, dropping basketball to focus more on wrestling.

Nunez will now be off to the baseball diamond throughout the spring and summer before football comes back around in the fall. Nunez finished wrestling with a stellar 29-3 record.

Presley did not have it quite as easy in his title match against Little Rock Christian’s Ben Thompson in the 170 class. Presley fell behind 2-0 early when Thompson scored on a takedown, but Presley fought back and scored on a pair of takedowns to go ahead 4-2 at the end of the first round. He went up as much as 6-3 in the second period before Thompson closed the gap again with a reversal, but Presley dominated the final round and took the decision 9-5, closing with a snake move.

“Coach has always told us that we have to outwork and outhustle,” Presley said. “He kept working, but you could tell he was tiring out. I just came back and put him in a spot he wasn’t used to.”

For Presley, who has also been a starter in football at Beebe for the past three years, his success in sports did not come easy.

“It took a lot of hard work and dedication,” Presley said. “Because I was not a top athlete, I always had to work to be where I wanted to be at.”