Wednesday, February 24, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe wrestling gets fifth overall

Leader sportswriter

The Beebe wrestling team wasn’t the healthiest team coming into Friday’s and Saturday’s state tournament at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock, but despite that, the Badgers were able to put together a strong showing and finish fifth overall in the Class 1A-5A team standings.

Greenbrier won the tournament in the 1A-5A Division, totaling 277 points. Pulaski Academy finished with 229.5 points, good for second place. McClellan took third with 212.5 points. Berryville was fourth with 202.5 and Beebe’s 184 points earned them fifth place out of the 24 teams in that division. Little Rock Christian was sixth with 141 points.

“That’s kind of what we expected coming in, that this was a top-five team,” said Beebe coach Jerry Price. “A lot of young kids stepped up, did real well.”

The highest individual finisher for Beebe was freshman Jaden Webb (9-4), who finished as runner-up of the 113-pound weight class. He advanced to Saturday afternoon’s final by winning a narrow 13-12 decision over Berryville’s Blane Nelson that morning.

Greenbrier’s Chris Whisenant (45-5) won the 113-pound final with a pin 25 seconds into round two. Still, Webb’s second-place finish was good for 22 team points, which helped Beebe advance in the standings.

“As a freshman, coming into his first tournament and finishing second, that’s huge,” Price said of Webb.

The Badgers had three other wrestlers finish in the top three of their weight classes, which earned them All-State honors. Senior Destiny Nunez (6-2), who was last year’s state champion of the 106-pound weight class and also the first female Arkansan to win a state wrestling championship, placed third Saturday.

She lost an 8-3 decision in Friday’s semifinal against Noah Forke of Berryville, but beat Central Arkansas Christian’s Zac Davidson to earn a spot in Saturday’s third-place match, where she pinned Shiloh Christian’s Wesley Solomon less than two minutes into that match. She also provided Beebe with 22 points for the team standings.

Bo Smith (15-4) and Quentin Scherer (16-3) also placed third for Beebe. Smith did so in the 182-pound class and Scherer’s third-place finish came in the 195-pound class.

Smith earned a spot in the third-place match with a fall over Berryville’s Robert Allen, and on Saturday afternoon, Smith pinned Greenbrier’s Grayson Powell 3:22 into their match.

Scherer won a decision over JT Crosby of Gentry in the consolation semifinal, putting him in the third-place match with Jonathan Andrews of CAC. He handed Andrews just his fourth loss of the year in 35 matches with a winning fall 5:53 into their match.

Those two combined for 48 team points, with Smith earning 26 for the tournament.

Nunez and Scherer each had to overcome injuries coming into the tournament.

“Quentin’s been battling injuries for a month,” Price said. “We had to literally carry him off the mat about three weeks ago and he couldn’t walk because his back was so messed up. Destiny separated a rib right after Christmas and has been battling that, and then she got sick (Friday). They’ve had to overcome all that.”

Scherer also wrestled in higher weight classes throughout the year in order to make room for other Badger wrestlers in the 182-pound class.

“Quentin is actually a 182 kid,” Price said. “He’s been underweight all year and been battling injury. Last year he had a torn ACL. They just overcome it. Hats off to those kids, they work.”

Price said Webb overcame his share of injuries this season as well. Garrett Grier (10-3) was the next-highest finisher for Beebe. He placed fourth in the 170-pound weight class and provided 19 points for the Badgers.

Karter Warner (13-7) finished fifth for Beebe in the 145-pound class, which was good for 17 team points. Justin Jackson (10-10), Noah Mercerd (3-3) and Hunter Newman (4-6) also medaled at the state tournament, with each finishing sixth in their weight classes.

Jackson’s sixth-place finish came in the 132-pound weight class. Mercerd finished sixth in the 152-pound class and Newman took the sixth spot in the 285-pound class. All three earned 15 points each for Beebe in the team standings.