By Greg Ford
LUCAS — It was a good day for wrestling on Jan. 24 at Lovejoy High School.
It was there on that day the District 9-4A tournament took place, an event that included Wylie and Wylie East’s programs. By the end, both the Pirates and Raiders had earned themselves considerable mat glory.
In the former’s case, they finished second behind Highland Park, 226.5-204.5, while capturing three individual titles in the process.
Those wins belonged to freshman Jose Escoffie at 113 pounds (pinned Lancaster’s Javier Garcia in 59 seconds), freshman Rafael Lopez a 120 (pinned Lovejoy’s Cooper Leary in 3:32) and sophomore Ryan Beattie at 220 (pinned Lovejoy’s Bo Beidleman in 1:24).
Another Pirate underclassman, Ryan Rigby, lost 11-5 to Wylie East’s Aaron Gassett and 106 pounds. Gassett’s win is the first-ever title for any East wrestler.
Fellow Raider Zeck Peltier took second at 126 pounds.
All of them, plus the third- and fourth-place finishers, will head to the Region III Tournament this weekend at the Berry Center in Cypress. The top-four finishers at that event will advance to the Feb. 14-15 state meet at the Culwell Center in Garland.
Others guaranteed a trip to the regionals are Wylie’s Anthony Pena (third at 160), Nick Torres (third at 182) and Eric Mriti (third at heavyweight).
Wylie’s Lawson Taylor (126) won a challenge match, while Emmanuel Calhoune (152) and Cole Mitchell (138) will attend the regionals as alternates after losing their challenges.
“(The team) performed really great,” Pirates’ head coach Tracy Cleveland said. “With a couple of points, it could have been a different tournament for a couple of guys. We advanced 14 of our 14 guys (including alternates) to the regional tournament, and there’s always (that). We can redeem some losses from (this tourney) … We finished better in district than we did last year, and that is always our goal, to improve.”
Cleveland also was impressed that three underclassmen won titles, with another, Rigby, a sophomore, taking second.
“Most of my team is sophomores; I only have three seniors,” the coach said. “The future is very bright for Wylie wrestling.”
Wylie East’s Mason Chadwick took third at 132, as did Paul Savage at 138. Aram Amin was fourth at 120 and then pinned Highland Park’s Shane Reed in a challenge match to secure that spot. Jason Rone was fourth at 145 after winning a challenge match, something Hayden Prock also did at 152. The Raiders will send eight grapplers to the regional meet.
Overall, the Raiders finished sixth with 101 points behind Lovejoy (186), Lancaster (126) and McKinney North (118).
“You never know when you get down there (to regionals), because some of the weights down there aren’t as strong as some of the weights up here,” said East head coach Tad Hazlewood. “Our guys going down there at least have a shot.”