The Centennial Cougars wrestling team defeated the Overton Bobcats 39-34 and the Independence Eagles 36-30 to capture their second region championship in a row at Centennial High School Thursday night.
“It was a tough match,” said Independence head coach Jared Grindstaff. “We wrestled hard and each won seven matches. It came down to bonus points, and they were able to get more of those than us.”
“This season, we started out great. Lately, we have been piecing stuff together,” said Centennial head coach Philip Pelkey. “We might not out-wrestle anybody, but we are going to go out there and fight.“
In the region semifinal, the Eagles came out strong against the McGavock Raiders, collecting five pins to seal the victory 48-24.
In the Cougars semifinal match, Centennial had to battle back from being down 28-27, collecting the two pins needed to complete a comeback and win over the Bobcats 39-34.
“We finally came together and got everything when we needed to,” said Centennial junior wrestler Ethan Duck.
“We have the attitude that we are never out of something,” said Coach Pelkey. “We have complete confidence, if we get down, whoever we put in is going to have the ability to do the job.”
The Cougars and Eagles had a rematch of the district final to determine the region championship. Both sides were even on matches (seven), but extra point wins by Centennial helped the Cougars scratch and claw for the victory 36-30.
“We have a great rivalry with Independence, facing them in district and regional tournaments this year and last year,” said Pelkey. “We are very fortunate to come out on top.”
With the win in their first match, Independence will advance to the state tournament field of 16 next weekend.
“We have a talented squad. When we have a off night, we are still able to do some good stuff,” said Coach Grindstaff. “I hope, with a couple days of practice next week, we can be on top of our game before the state tournament.”
Centennial will advance to their third state tournament in a row next week.
“I have been to the state tournament with the team every year, and that is not something very many teams can say,” said Duck.
“I hope we can win some matches we have lost (previously) and get some wins where we should have losses.”
“We are hoping we can get healed and fine tune some things,” said Coach Pelkey. “We take a lot of pride in making it to state three years in a row and four of the last five years. We have built this team from the ground up. It is great to see these guys with all of the success they are having.”