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Local wrestlers are raising the bar By TERRENCE HUNLEY

Pan Handle News

 

There were some very telling wrestling tournaments to open up 2016 this last weekend.

The ever-formidable Lady Longhorn Classic at Caprock proved that girls wrestling is getting tougher and tougher. Weatherford made an apprearance there for the first time, taking second, and defending state champion El Paso Hanks proved once again it will be a force to be reckoned with once February rolls around.

Sitting third, however, was none other than Palo Duro. Led by Sion King the Lady Dons are slowly becoming one of the top girls teams in the area. It was nice to see the Lady Dons putting pressure on the top point getters by having a solid lineup to score points across the board.

“Every girls tournament has gotten tougher,” Palo Duro coach Sion King said. “Girls wrestling in Texas has gotten so much tougher. They are catching up to the boys. These girls have been wrestling for a long time and are hitting high-level techniques. It’s tough. We are having to constantly go back to the drawing board and train our girls the right way. I’m impressed with the level of competition.”

On the boys side the Hereford Rumble showed that Amarillo High will be a contender. The Sandies placed first with Boys Ranch second over 140 point behind.

The Sandies will be looking to take that momentum into the Texas Dual State Championships this weekend in Houston.

“Hereford was a good warmup for what we’ve got coming up this weekend,” Amarillo High coach Gregg Clear said. “We looked at that to kind of finalize our starting lineups. We looked at it to prepare us mentally, physically and team wise for the big weekend.”

The Sandies are led by seniors Talen Erwin, Taygen Smith, Austin Brandt and Branson Taylor. Erwin (138 pounds), Smith (152), and Brandt (182) all won their respective classes at the Hereford Rumble. Taylor is out with an injury but has a chance to return soon.

“When you get to that senior year, your whole focus kind of changes,” Clear said. “It becomes more important. You realize it might be your last chance to get done some of the things you want to get done, like being a state champion. I know that these four kids in particular have a real good shot at being a state champion. They are focused in and are preparing for it.”

It’ll be fun to watch how the Palo Duro girls and Amarillo High boys do as the season rolls on towards district. A couple teams to keep an eye out for on the boys side in Class 5A, other than the usual suspect of Randall of course, are the Dumas Demons and Bushland Falcons. Both of these teams have a chance to win their district tournament come February.

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