January 9th, 2011
Local Grapplers Perform Well At Tourney
St. X overcomes tough, local competition at JCWT
High school wrestling is a world unto itself, and the bonds that it forms are tight.
This weekend, at DuPont Manual High School, wrestlers from 22 schools - including St. Xavier, Trinity, DeSales and Holy Cross - competed in the Jefferson County Wrestling Tournament of Champions.
"We're like a family," said Scott Moore, a Manual wrestling parent and tournament volunteer. At family dinner on Saturday night, the St. Xavier grapplers took the big chair at the head of the table.
As a team the Tigers came out on top with a score of 236.5, just edging out archrival and defending state champion Trinity, who scored 230. Shmarocks Head Coach Richard Brown was philosophical about the loss, seeing it as motivation for future training and the showdowns in months to come.
Wrestlers from the four Jefferson County Catholic high schools competed strongly in all weight classes, with many boys earning individual championships. In between championship rounds, the top five in each weight division received a medal and mounted a staggered podium to smile for the parent paparazzi armed with cell phone cameras.
In the lighter weight classes, the public schools Moore, Southern and Central all competed well, but it was Trinity's much-touted John Fahy who triumphed at 125 lbs. Justin Lampe, wrestling in the 112-pound division for St. Xavier, boosted his team's totals with his victory over Bryce Payton of Pleasure Ridge Park.
Trinity was well on its way to a team victory with Brent Hitching's hard-fought win over Jake Weedman of Southern in the 135-pound weight class. But then two boys from St. Xavier turned the tide, proving that camaraderie and fierce training can win the day.
Sporting tie-dye socks and a pink warm-up t-shirt, Kyle Honeycutt looked more set for Mardi Gras than a final match with Trinity's Austin Pender. Honeycutt, however, is a book not to be judged by its cover.
Pender scored early by breaking the Tiger grappler's hold, but Honeycutt rallied, kept up the pressure, and in the third round teased his opponent with little swipes to the head. At one point the two boys made a choreographed roll, two wrestlers becoming a single wheel, that looked like something straight from Cirque du Soleil. In the end, Honeycutt's relentless pressure gave him the victory on points.
After the match when asked about his wrestling mindset, Honeycutt said, "I usually don't think, my body reacts. I could hear everybody up there cheering for me, which was definitely a good confidence boost."
Bare-chested St. Xavier student support aside, Honeycutt knows he's alone.
Getting to the heart of his sport's intensity, he continued, "but out there it's a whole different world. I play football too, but when you're out there on the mat with somebody dude, it's a life or death situation pretty much."
Next up in a championship round was St. Xavier's Hunter French against Camryn Fields of Pleasure Ridge Park. With curls sprouting from his headgear and the shoulders of a dock worker, French was a visual contrast to his tall, rangy opponent. He took a few last-minute instructions from St. X Head Coach Jim Kraeszig and went to work to win the 145-pound weight class.
French lifted Fields high and slammed him down on the mat. The PRP wrestler then neutralized French's advantage by maintaining a long hold. When French finally broke free, he went on the initiative, curling Fields back into a danger position with his shoulders nearly pressed flat to the mat.
The strength of the Tiger wrestler was just an irresistible force. With 1:02 left in the third period Fields yielded. The St. Xavier champ jumped to his feet to celebrate the pin.
At the tournament's conclusion, French tried to keep St. Xavier's win in perspective.
"This is just a stepping stone," he said. "This is our practice, the most important is state, finding those kinks and working them out."
Individually, French hopes to be Kentucky's finest in his weight class. He brims with confidence and believes that his summer work at Indiana University's wrestling camp and training with teammates Kyle Honeycutt and John Lampe, who won the 160-pound division on Saturday, will all pay off.
Among the bigger boys, Trinity had some important triumphs. In the 189-pound weight class, Bobby Bryant outlasted CiVaugh Green of Jeffersontown, and Brendan Darrow was locked in an exciting match that stood at 10-10 before a tie-breaker. His opponent, Kyle Durbin of Eastern, managed to get the crucial point and was later voted the outstanding wrestler of the tournament by the coaches.
Everybody loves to see a heavyweight championship and with good reason. Trevor Ford of DeSales, who resembles the Tasmanian Devil crossed with William "The Refrigerator" Perry, was nearly a foot shorter than his rival, Southern's Cody Bates. Ford would not be intimidated.
"I was thinking, this guy is pretty big," Ford said while trying to catch his breath, "and I just had to get him down and run him over."
Ford pinned his opponent in the first period. Mission accomplished.
"He has about eight years of wrestling experience," DeSales coach Alan Martin said of Ford. "He started out in Fern Creek and has good balance and natural feel for position and is able to get out of trouble."
With the heavyweight contest in the books, tournament officials made their tallies and announced the results. When St. Xavier learned they had won, the Tiger wrestlers and their vocal support, including many younger brothers, rushed out onto the floor to hoist the trophy.
Kyle Honeycutt summed up the mentality that he and all wrestlers need when he said, "If you're scared of your opponent, you've already lost."
St. Xavier certainly didn't flinch this past weekend.
How St. X competitors fared:
- 103 Max Korfhage 3rd
- 112 Justin Lampe Champion
- 119 Dylan Vish 4th
- 125 Noah Allgeier 1-2
- 130 Austin Jarboe 2-2
- 135 Brandon Pledger 3rd
- 140 Kyle Honeycutt Champion
- 145 Hunter French Champion
- 152 Kody DeSpain 5th
- 160 John Lampe Champion
- 171 Noah Bauer 5th
- 189 Will Thompkins 5th
- 215 Shayne Smith 6th
For video highlights from the tournament, visit the CSN TV section at the right of the website home page.