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CECILIA – The rankings meant little to Anderson County wrestlers on Saturday.
While few gave the Bearcats much chance of making much noise in the Region 2 Tournament, held Saturday at Central Hardin High School, Anderson defied the rankings, qualifying seven wrestlers for the state meet.
Shea Sparrow (125 pound class), Austin Dillow (135), Chris Fitzpatrick (215) and Zach Cotton (285) all placed second in the tournament. Blake Curtsinger (130) and Zack Perry (152) advanced as third-place winners while Jake Vincent made the cut as the fourth-place finisher at 140 pounds.
In addition, T.W. Stockton placed fifth and is an alternate at 160 pounds in the event that one of the top four from the region cannot wrestle at the state. A year ago, Anderson had five state qualifiers.
As a team, Anderson placed fourth with 124 points. Perennial power LaRue County took the title, followed by Central Hardin and North Hardin.
Dillow, a junior, will be making his third trip to the state tournament while Fitzpatrick, Cotton, Sparrow and Curtsinger will be making their second appearance. Vincent made the cut for the first time. Perry had been an alternate last year.
The Bearcats recorded several big wins on the day, with Fitzpatrick's upset top-seeded Cody Reeser, from Central Hardin, in the semifinals being the biggest.
“It might have been an upset in the seedings, but I think the kids can compete with anybody,” said Anderson coach Tom Castle.
Fitzpatrick might have surprised Reeser, as the two had not been on the mat against each other this year. Heavily favored, Reeser was never able to generate much of an attack against Fitzpatrick. With the score tied at 4-4, Fitzpatrick managed an escape with 30 seconds left to get the 5-4 win.
Reeser and Fitzpatrick went to the mat as time ran out, prompting Reeser and Central Hardin to plead for a take down, but the official ruled time had run out.
“That was exciting,” Fitzpatrick said. “I thought I had a chance against him. I have been wrestling pretty well.”
Fitzpatrick seemed on his way to a regional championship when he had Nelson County's Daniel Pile on the mat in the second period of the final, but Pile rallied to win 10-9.
Shea Sparrow also took an exciting match against third seeded Cody Mardis, also of Central Hardin. With the score tied at 6, Sparrow managed to gain enough control to be awarded two points with 11 seconds remaining in his match.
Sparrow, however, fell to LaRue County's Raymundo Perez, 9-5, in the final.
Dillow was impressive with his run to the final, but LaRue's Caleb Canter, ranked among the state's best the last two years, scored a 6-0 win in the final. Dillow had survived a scare in the semifinals when he needed an overtime to defeat Boyle County's Zack Cope. Dillow was awarded a takedown with 32 seconds left in the extra period.
The first bout of the state meet is set to go off at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 17, at the Frankfort Convention Center. Castle thinks if the Bearcats wrestle as they did Saturday, they can make even more noise across the state.
“These kids work as hard as anyone in the state,” Castle said. “When they went out there, they left it all out there on the mat.”