This weekend’s state wrestling tournament is the last go-round for Franklin County’s five senior wrestlers.
For three of the seniors this will be their first trip to state.
“I’ve told our seniors they have nothing to lose,” FCHS coach Zac Donnelly said. “The pressure was qualifying for state. Now just do your best at the tournament and enjoy it.
“Have a good time and take it all in. Have fun, and we’ll see how everything plays out.”
This year’s seniors are Frederick Agyeman, Marcus Bucerzan, Dmitri Hubbard, Mick Marshall and Kyle Perkins.
They are part of a school record 11 state qualifiers. Also going to state from FCHS are Bailey Bixler, Corey Jacobs, Aaron Valentine, John Blythe, Francisco Perez and Denwan Hall.
The state tournament is at Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park Friday and Saturday.
Wrestling starts Friday at 10 a.m. and goes through two rounds of the championship bracket and two rounds of the consolation bracket.
Action resumes at 9:30 a.m. Saturday with the finals slated to start at 6 p.m.
For Bucerzan, advancing to state ends two years of frustration.
He’s making his first trip to state after suffering injuries in the final week of the regular season the last two years.
Bucerzan dislocated his elbow last year, and he had a broken collarbone his sophomore year.
“My sophomore year I was upset, but I looked forward to my junior and senior years,” he said. “Last year, my junior year, I was more depressed. I only had one more year, and if something happened that last year I’d be out of luck.”
Instead Bucerzan will be going to state after a third-place finish in the 126-pound weight class at last week’s regional tournament.
“I have six losses, but they’re top 10 ranked guys in the state,” he said. “I’m going to go out and give all I’ve got, and I’d like to place at state.”
Mick Marshall is another senior going to state for the first time. He’ll be wrestling at 152 pounds.
“I’m really excited,” he said, “a little nervous, but mainly excited.
“I think this has been the best season of my whole wrestling career. I want to at least place in the top eight since this is my last year of wrestling.”
Dmitri Hubbard, in his sixth year of wrestling, will be making his first trip to state, where he’ll compete in the 145-pound class.
The pressure was on at the regional tournament, where he finished third.
“I definitely wanted to go to state,” Hubbard said, “and I really want to place.”
Agyeman and Perkins have both been to the state tournament twice before.
Perkins will be wrestling in the 170-pound class. He went 0-2 last year at state wrestling at 182.
“Last year I wrestled 30 pounds up,” he said. “That was a little tough. Hopefully this year wrestling at my own weight I’ll do better.
“I wish we hadn’t gotten so much snow and had tournaments canceled. We could have had more matches. Some other wrestlers have 45 matches, and we’re in the 20s.”
Agyeman also lamented what the weather did to this year’s season.
“I kind of wish, because a lot of the tournaments were canceled because of the snow, that there had been more tournaments so we’d be more prepared for state,” he said. “I looked at my bracket, and of the 32 people I’ve wrestled 10 of them.
“I’ve only lost to one kid in my weight class in state. I feel like I can do pretty well.”
Taking that first step is what Donnelly has been emphasizing with his team.
“We’ve really been focusing all week on going out and winning that first match,” he said. “Anything can happen at state. I’ve seen state champions get beat in the first and second rounds.
“We’re really excited about having 11 guys go to state. That’s a school record, and we’d like to set another school record with how high we place. We have so many kids we could score a lot of points.”