LAWRENCE — Shawnee Mission East coach Chip Ufford achieved a noteworthy objective Saturday at the Class 6A wrestling regional at Lawrence Free State.
By CHARLES REDFIELD
Special to The Star
“Our goal was to take all 14 wrestlers to state,” he said. “Our guys achieved that goal.”
The Lancers, who easily won the regional title with 222.5 points, will have a wrestler entered in each of the 14 weight classes at the state tournament Friday and Saturday at Wichita-Hartman Arena in Park City..
“It showed that working hard works,” Ufford said. “We learned from each tournament and we are ready for a strong run at state.”
SM East crowned five champions: sophomore Barrett Cooper (113), junior Chris Rodriguez (120), junior Grant Hollingsworth (126), senior Chipper Jorns (132) and senior Jack Mitchell (152).
Cooper had placed third at last week’s Sunflower League tournament, but came back Saturday to pin SM Northwest senior Ermilio Amunatigui with 40 seconds left in the first period.
“I wrestled smarter today,” he said.
The sophomore qualified for state last year, but lost both bouts. He’s looking for a different result this year.
“I have improved a lot with summer camps,” he said.
Hollingsworth had a 2-0 lead going into the third period.
“I allowed him (Lawrence’s Garrett Girard) to turn me on my back for two points.” Hollingsworth said. “I got a reversal to take the lead.”
That gave the junior a 4-2 lead. He allowed Girard to escape for one point with 10 seconds to go.
Hollingsworth only won one bout at state last year.
“I’m going to do more attacking this year,” he said.
Lawrence senior Caden Lynch, who had lost to Aaron Taylor of SM West 7-5 at the Sunflower League tournament, defeated the junior by the same score on Saturday.
“I was on my feet more this week,” Lynch said. “I was better on my feet.”
The senior placed fifth at state last year.
Lawrence freshman Alan Clothier had a height disadvantage against SM Northwest junior LaPhonso McKinnis.
“I concentrated on staying low and not letting him get too much leg,” Clothier said.
He pinned McKinnis 17 seconds into the second period. The freshman will take a 34-3 record to state. None of his three losses were to 6A opponents.
“I want to win the championship,” he said. “I have worked hard to get there.”
Lawrence senior Andrew Denning, who placed second at state at 145 as a sophomore, didn’t wrestle at the Sunflower League tournament because he was taking the ACT test. And the senior couldn’t wrestle at the regional last year because of a concussion.
He was healthy Saturday though, pinning SM Northwest freshman Zack Newcomb at 180 early in the first period to improve his record to 24-2.
Olathe Northwest sophomore Doug Newcomb made it six pins in a row. He pinned his way to the 106 Sunflower League title and had all pins in capturing the regional championship.
He pinned Lawrence junior Xavier Kenney in the third period in the title bout.
“I have a mindset of dominating opponents and if I do that I usually win,” he said.
Last year he finished second at the regional, but lost both bouts at state.