Learning experience for Mat Cats in state wrestling tourney

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Four of five qualifiers return in 2011

By John Herndon

The results turned few eyebrows but Anderson County's showing in the state wrestling tournament was a combination of getting experience and trying to overcome some tough draws.


The five Bearcats that advanced to the state tourney, held Thursday through Saturday won just four bouts and scored eight points, yet head coach Tom Castle believes his team showed some of the potential that could propel the Bearcats to a higher finish in 2011.

Hunter Lilly, the team's only senior to qualify for the state tournament, advanced the deepest of all the Bearcats, making it to the third consolation round before finally being eliminated by Ryle's Caleb Lonkard in a 13-7 decision.

Lilly,  one of eight four-seeds, had the misfortune of meeting up with fourth-ranked Tom Shirey of Eastern in the first round. Lilly wrestled well but Shirey pulled out a 7-0 win on Thursday. Lilly came back in the consolation bracket to dominate Manual's Ben Schardein and then pinned Daviess County's Willy Jenkinson early in the second period before his high school career came to an end against Lonkard, who eventually finished eighth.

“Hunter really wrestled well,” Anderson coach Tom Castle said. “(Shirey) was really good.” Shirey finished fourth in the tournament.

Austin Dillow, Anderson's highest-ranked (17th) wrestler heading into the tournament – he was ranked 17th at 112 pounds by KentuckyWrestling.com – suffered a mild upset in the opener when he fell to Bourbon County's Ben Lascurain.

Dillow, a sophomore, had taken the lead early in the opener against the 19th-ranked Lascurain but Lascurain scored the decisive reversal midway through the second period and held on for a 4-3 win. Dillow did score a convincing win over Manual's Andrew Segal in the first consolation match, winning 13-7, but he ran into the misfortune of facing second-ranked Nick Paden of LaRue County in the second consolation round. Paden scroed a 4-1 win.

“I told him I was proud of him.  The kid that put him out had been ranked number one. He got a tough draw,” Anderson coach Tom Castle said of the random bracketing process that includes both seeding and a blind draw.

Chris Fitzpatrick, who had lost to the state's second-ranked 215-pounder, LaRue's Drew Newberry, in the regional tournament, had to face No. 3 Cody Mink, of Wayne County, in the opening round. Mink dominated, scoring a pin midway through the second period.

Fitzpatrick, also a sophomore, was able to come back to pin Fern Creek's Gabe Lord early in the second period of their consolation match. Fitzpatrick rallied from a 4-1 deficit to gain control, then got Lord's shoulders to the mat at the 2:38 mark. The outcome produced a scary moment though, when Lord appeared to suffer a neck injury, then lay on the mat for nearly 20 minutes while being tended to by trainers. He was eventually taken to Frankfort Regional Medical Center as a precautionary measure.

Fitzpatrick's season ended, however, when top-ranked Tyler Crow of Meade County, pinned Fitzpatrick midway through the second period of the consolation round. Crow had suffered an upset in the second championship round and did not make the medal round. Newberry, however, won the tournament, while Mink finished fifth.

“He really has done well,” Castle said of Fitzpatrick. “He was very strong (against Lord).”

In their first experience at the state, freshman Shea Sparrow and sophomore Blake Curtsinger both went out in two matches at 119 and 125 pounds, respectively.

Sparrow never could muster an attack as he fell to 12th-ranked Chris Cory of Perry County Central in the opener, then dropped a close one to Simon Kenton's Jared Yocum in the consolation bracket. Yocum scored on a reversal with less than a minute to go to post an 8-6 win.

Curtsinger grabbed a quick lead against St. Xavier's Byron Hoskinson but Hoskinson recovered to score a major decision. In the second bout, Curtsinger wrestled well but Simon Kenton's Drew Harris delivered a pin early in the third period, ending Curtsinger's run.

“He has that kind of potential,” Castle said. “He came on at the end of the year. He can be good.”

Sparrow, Castle said, “really wrestled hard. He has the potential to be good. He got into a really tough bracket.”

It turned out to be a rebuilding year for the Bearcats. The point total at the state was slightly below last year's 11 points and significantly down from 24 points two years ago.  However, Anderson qualified five wrestlers, one more than last season, when two of the four were seniors. The Bearcats did that in arguably the toughest region in the state in 2010. Three regional foes, LaRue County (fifth), John Hardin (eighth) and North Hardin (10th) finished in the state tourney Top 10, the only region in the state to make that claim.

The region also produced 15 individual medalists this year.

Anderson looks to return most of its roster next season.

E-mail John Herndon at jpherndon@theandersonnews.com.