Cinco Ranch was third in District 11-6A, but the team’s stars rose up at the Region III-6A tournament, leading the Cougars girls to their first regional wrestling title.
They scored 109 points to squeak past Langham Creek, which was second with 108.
Morton Ranch and Seven Lakes, which went 1-2 in district, also finished in the top five Saturday at the Merrell Center.
“We wrestled really well, and we needed every single point we got,” coach Bill Dushane said. “We knew we had a good chance at, at least three champions, we got that, and my 148 (Queena Chen) came through with some pins to take third. A real surprise was my 102-pounder (Ellie Monk) taking sixth.
“So it was a pretty exciting Saturday.”
The regional title was the first for Cinco Ranch’s wrestling program, boys or girls.
The Cougars won a state championship in 2007, but they lost the regional title by three points that year.
“It’s big,” Dushane said.
“We could do it, so you always want to do it, if you can, and it sets up (this) week. We’ve been gearing all year long for the state meet, knowing with the stars we have, we can compete for a state title.”
Cinco Ranch file
Coach: Bill Dushane, 16th season
2016: The girls won three individual titles and their first team title at the Region III-6A tournament.
2016: District 11-6A member with Katy, Katy Taylor, Mayde Creek, Seven Lakes, Morton Ranch, Tompkins and Strake Jesuit.
Next up: The Cougars are at the UIL wrestling state tournament Friday and Saturday at the Berry Center.
Top qualifiers: Charlotte Fowler, 110, Kayla De Leon, 138, Taylor Rosario, 185, Cody Koger, 160, John Bentley, 285
Then Cinco received key contributions from Chen, who beat Morton Ranch’s Sophia Levin, who’d pinned her previously this season.
Rosario’s pin of Clear Springs’ Eboni Johnson in the 185 final clinched the team crown.
Fowler improved to 45-0 and secured her third straight regional championship with another solid tournament.
“She’s been wrestling at a high level all year long, so I was really pleased with her,” Dushane said. “She had a very tough match in the finals, and it wasn’t one of her better matches this year, but she still pulled it out. Now she’s a three-time regional champion, and she only wrestled for three years.”
De Leon, only a sophomore, improved to 45-0 at 138.
“She’s so physical,” Dushane said. “She’s only wrestled for two years now and she’s a two-time regional champ. She made it all the way to the state finals as a freshman, but she’s a much more complete wrestler than she was last year, so we’re really looking forward to seeing what she can do this weekend.”
Dushane expects Rosario, who’s 36-1, to take care of business this week, like she has all season.
“She didn’t wrestle last year at all, so she’s coming back,” Dushane said. “But she has been solid all year long. Her only loss was when she was up at 215. She’s not lost at all at 185. She’s fun to watch wrestle.
“She has great technique, and she’s been so dominant this year.”
Cinco Ranch qualified three boys for the state tournament.
Koger didn’t give up a point Saturday, improving to 44-7 with his 190th career win.
Now he’s looking to put it all together at state, where’s he’s come up heartbreakingly short the last two years.