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Sports

East, D-B wrestlers shine at regionals

February 10th, 2007 11:54 pm by JOHN MOOREHOUSE



AFTON - On the same day that left Dobyns-Bennett optimistic for the future, Sullivan East celebrated what may have been the finest accomplishment in the history of its wrestling program.


Four Indian underclassmen advanced to the state tournament and three Patriots won championships at the Region 1 wrestling tournament Saturday.


Only District 1-AAA champion Science Hill and Region 1 dual champion Greeneville had more regional title winners than Sullivan East.


Sophomore Kole Bishop won the 140-pound title for the Patriots. Seniors Grant Nacos (145) and Reece Wheeler (162) followed with crowns of their own.


"We had three champions and sent four to state, I don't know if it's ever happened at East," coach Robert Grunder said.


Austin Mann and Daniel Preston won titles for D-B at 112 and 215, respectively.


Bishop started East's run at 140, beating Justin Myers 5-3 in overtime. Bishop thought he had a 3-2 win, but was penalized for an illegal hold after time expired, making it 3-all.


"I was not going to lose that match," Bishop said. "They got my hopes up, then they're saying I used an illegal hold. My stamina shot right back up."


Nacos followed with a 10-4 win over Greeneville's Tyler Aiken, tallying six unanswered points to end the match. He credited the stamina advantage to also playing football and running track for the Patriots.


"This is something I've wanted since I started wrestling," said Nacos, who began in eighth grade but missed last season due to knee surgery.


Wheeler beat West Greene's John Kuykendall 12-10 in overtime in a contentious match with many nice exchanges and reverses in the final three minutes.


"When overtime came and we were neutral, I was stoked because I knew we could take him down," Wheeler said. "Definitely, one of the tougher matches I've wrestled all season."


Bishop, Nacos and Wheeler are East's first region champs since Charlie Smith in 2005. East has never won a state title, but Nacos sees one coming.


"I'm calling it: Kole, before he graduates, will win a state title," Nacos said.


Mann, a freshman, beat Manny Pascual of Jefferson County 6-3 in the 112 finals. He and his twin brother, Adam, have been tagging along with their dad - Buzzy Mann, D-B's coach - for many years.


"I've always wanted to be on top of the podium with a poster," Austin Mann said of his championship win. "That was my dream since I was a little kid."


Preston topped Greeneville's Jeremiah Sims by a 7-4 margin.


"Last year I finished fourth in the region and missed state," Preston said. "This year I promised myself I was going to win it."


Saturday's results suggest a bright future for the Tribe. Of the Indians' five state participants, three are freshmen - the Mann brothers and Marcus Stout (152). Only Ben Davis, the 189 runner-up, is a senior.


Science Hill had nine grapplers qualify for the state tournament. Four captured championships. Region 1 dual champion Greeneville placed a staggering 11 qualifiers in 14 possible divisions, with four region champs.


Travis Wilson (103) also made state for East.


Daniel Boone's Adam Stewart (135) qualified for state, as did David Crockett's Michael Nease (125) and Brian Johnson (215).


Johnson placed fourth in his class, one of two divisions where the top four finishers earned state berths. The 125-pound class was the other exempted.


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