Franklin County’s Denwan Hall knew his opponent in the finals of the Region 5 wrestling tournament Saturday night.
Spencer County’s Derek Clemens had beaten Hall earlier in the season.
Saturday was Hall’s turn, and the junior captured the championship of the 220-pound weight class with a 3-2 double overtime victory at Western Hills’ Lapsley Cardwell Gymnasium.
Hall is one of 11 Flyers who qualified for the state tournament, which starts Friday at Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park.
WHHS’ Josh Morris is also advancing to the state tournament.
“That was exciting,” FCHS coach Zac Donnelly said about Hall’s win. “That kid had beaten him earlier in the year, and for him to avenge that loss, especially in the regional final, that’s a big win for Denwan.
“I’m very proud of my team. We’re sending 11 guys to state, and that’s a school record for us. We sent nine last year, and to send 11 this year is really impressive, especially with the group of seniors we lost last year.”
Hall was one of four FCHS wrestlers to reach the finals. Aaron Valentine (138), Frederick Agyeman (160) and Francisco Perez (195) finished as runners-up in their weight classes.
Hall’s match was tied at 1 at the end of regulation and the first overtime period. Clemens led 2-1 after the first 30 seconds of the second overtime, but Hall tied the match in the second 30 seconds with an escape.
The match then went to sudden death overtime, and Hall got another escape, good for one point and the victory.
Saturday’s match was the first time the wrestlers had met since Clemens’ win in the regular season.
“I was anxious to wrestle him again,” Hall said. “My goal was to place first and win the tournament. That gets you a good seed in the state tournament.”
Hall is in his second year of wrestling at the high school level, and he wrestled one year in middle school when he was in the sixth grade.
Last year he placed sixth in the regional tournament.
“I was expecting it to be just tough,” Hall said of the championship match. “This is the first time I’ve placed high in the regional tournament.”
The top four finishers in each weight class advance to state. The Flyers had one champion, three runners-up, six wrestlers take third and one finish fourth.
“I’m hoping we can carry this momentum into the state tournament Friday,” Donnelly said.
“I’m really impressed with some of our younger guys. Bailey Bixler is giving up about 15 pounds wrestling at 106. He weighs 90, 91 pounds and is in the eighth grade.
“John Blythe is a freshman who weighs about 165, and he wrestles at 182, so he’s giving up 15 pounds. Those two guys were somewhat of a surprise, and I was really impressed with the way they wrestled.”
Bixler took fourth place at 106, and Blythe was third in the 182-pound class.
FCHS’ other five qualifiers all finished third — Corey Jacobs (113), Marcus Bucerzan (126), Dmitri Hubbard (145), Mick Marshall (152) and Kyle Perkins (170).
Morris finished fourth in the 152-pound class for the Wolverines.
“I’m really proud all five seniors qualified,” Donnelly said of Agyeman, Bucerzan, Hubbard, Marshall and Perkins.
“They have one more week to give it everything they’ve got. I want them all to go out with a bang, and the first step to doing that is getting to the state tournament.”
Oldham County took the team title. Woodford County was second and FCHS placed third.
Clemens was voted the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament for weight classes 152-285. Woodford County’s Nathan Boston, who is undefeated this season and won the 120-pound class, took the same honor for weight classes 106-145.
*For complete results, click here.