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Franklin County's, from left, Nathaniel Lawrence, John Lowe and Jalen Wideman have qualified for the state wrestling tournament this weekend. (Linda Younkin)

Franklin County has three veterans returning to the state wrestling tournament this weekend.

Seniors Nathaniel Lawrence, John Lowe and Jalen Wideman qualified by placing in the top four of their weight classes at the Region 5 Tournament Saturday at Oldham County High School.

Each of the wrestlers has made at least one appearance at the state tournament, which starts Friday at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Alltech Arena.

Lawrence was second in the 160-pound weight class while Lowe was third at 145 and Wideman fourth at 132.

Teammate John Lowe (145) was third, and Jalen Wideman (132) was fourth. All three wrestlers are seniors, and they’ve all been to state before.

FCHS placed ninth in the team standings. Oldham County won the regional title, and Woodford County was second.

“Our younger guys were close in a lot of matches, but they couldn’t get over the top,” FCHS coach JJ Townsend said. “It showed them a lot of things they need to work on, and it showed us as a coaching staff we have to do a better job preparing and what we need to work on.”

Lawrence, who was state runner-up last year in the 145-pound class, is making his sixth straight trip to the state tournament.

He was sidelined by an injury this season that caused him to miss all of January.

“It’s like anything in life,” Lawrence said. “When things happen you have to change your game plan and work through it.

“I felt like I wrestled to the best of my ability (at regional) and stuck to my game plan.”

Lowe, who went to state as an eighth grader and freshman, missed his sophomore and junior years because of injuries.

“At region I wrestled someone I hadn’t lost to before,” Lowe said about the semifinals. “I didn’t give him the proper respect, and I got beat. I felt a lot of pressure, and I put a lot of pressure on myself.”

Wideman, a regional runner-up a year ago, is making his second trip to state.

“Last year I was in the regional final, and this year I wanted to win it,” he said. “It didn’t go as expected.”

In the match he had to win to earn a state berth, Wideman was trailing with less than a minute to go.

“It was tough,” he said. “There were about 45 seconds left and I was down a point. I thought, ‘This is it.’ This is my senior year and my last year of wrestling.”

Wideman scored on a reverse to win the match.

Wrestling starts Friday at 9:30 a.m. It resumes Saturday at 9 a.m., and the matches for the top eight places begin at 3 p.m.

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