The Commerce High School wrestling team advanced eight of its 11 competitors to the class-A state finals after an all-star performance at the state sectional meet in Montgomery County last Saturday.
This weekend, the Tigers will have a chance to not only win several individual state titles, but to bring home a team state championship.
Commerce finished third overall last month in the duals state finals, even while forfeiting several points due to not having every weight class filled.
At the traditional state tournament, the Tigers won’t run into that problem.
“We filtered out the other teams’ kids that we gave up points to and now we have a chance to win it,” said junior Tiger Chance McClure. “We really have a chance this year, more so than any previous years. We have a lot of really quality kids.”
Out of the eight competitors that placed at sectionals, all but two have wrestled in the state tournament before.
Sixth-year head coach Kendall Love hopes that his team’s experience will provide an significant advantage.
“Of the eight, most have been on the big stage,” said Love. “If anything, the added pressure might help us some, because we’ve been there before and they know what’s at stake.”
Chance McClure is making his third appearance at state and hopes to secure a third straight state title, while Trent Reddish will look to improve upon his runner-up finish last year.
Morgan Flint and Josh Westmoreland were both injured before state last year, and will now have the chance to make up for missed opportunities on the mat.
In his fourth trip to state, senior Westmoreland says he’s more motivated than ever and ready for the competition.
“The top five kids in the state are separated by one point,” he said. “It’s going to be crazy. It’s going to be memorable, that’s for sure.”
Greyson Cochran will also vie for a state title in his second appearance at the state tournament.
While senior Johnny McAbee and freshman Michael Patton have never been on the “big stage,” Love is confident that “they are ready.”
“With a lot of hard work and a little luck, I think we can get most of these guys in the finals,” added Love.
Love described the success of the Tigers this year as a pleasant surprise.
“Going into the season, I knew this wouldn’t be one of our best years due to numbers,” he said. “But now, we have a good chance to get the most guys we’ve ever had into the finals. Any time you are in the top eight in the state, that’s an accomplishment in itself – of course in the state tournament, they are all going for a championship. We are going to try and work this week, improve on a couple things and see what happens.”
Commerce placers from sectionals are:
First place; Michael Patton (126 lb.), Morgan Flint (182 lb.) and Chance McClure (220 lb.). Second place; Grayson Cochran (160 lb.) and Trent Reddish (170 lb.). Third place; Josh Westmorland (138 lb.) and Cole Sweeney (190 lb.). Fourth Place; Johnny McAbee (132 lb.).