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Boys tournament recap, by Eric Thiergood:
Even without perennial powerhouse Allen High school or always tough Austin Bowie High present, the 2017 Woodlands Invitation proved once again to be a showcase for some top public and private high school wrestling talent. This year saw the participation of 28 high school teams, made up of 23 public schools and 5 private schools. While most of the schools were from the Houston or surrounding area, one team, Loyola College Prep brought a small but scrappy team across the Texas-Louisiana boarder to attend the tournament from Shreveport. Two DFW area teams, Arlington High and private school Faustina Academy from Irving made the drive down 45 South to compete in this weekend’s tournament.
The Woodlands Invitational also provided great recruiting grounds for head coach Troy Jewell of Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas who is actively recruiting talented male and female wrestlers for the university’s new wrestling program slated to start in 2018. The Woodlands tournament was the first of a three stop recruiting trip that started in the Woodlands on Friday and hit big tournaments in both San Antonio and Austin. “The talent in Houston was strong as usual just as we expected”, Coach Jewel said, adding excitingly, “We are looking forward to getting back to Houston a few times this season and will hopefully pull some Schreiner University Mountaineers from H-Town!”
Katy high took full advantage of Allen’s absence from this year’s Woodlands Invitational to win the boys’ team tournament with a solid 252 team points, convincingly beating the second place team, Cy Ranch, by 46 points. Fellow Cypress ISD school, Cy Fair won a hard fought third place team placing with Cinco Ranch finishing fourth trailing with only six point separating third and fourth Place and making the top 4 boys team spots a Katy ISD-CFISD only party.
As always, the individual matches saw a handful of surprises and upsets for some wrestlers and served to confirm the 1st place seedings of others.
106 First seeded freshman, Jackson Crandall of Katy, verified that his 1st place seeding was well deserved by pinning his way through the tournament with his longest match only making it to the second round. In the finals Crandall won over third-seeded Ruben Calderon, a freshman from Cy Falls in 1:12 minutes into the first period. In Crandall’s 4 matches of the tournament, he spent a total of only 6 minutes and 12 seconds on the mat which put him in very serious contention for the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament award. Crandall is clearly on opposing coaches’ and wrestlers’ radar now. Caney Creek’s Juan Martinez, a 2016-2017 5A state qualifier beat Adam Hoang, a senior from Cy Ranch to take the third place spot.
113 Unbeaten sophomore and 2016-2017 state placer Isiah Calderon from Cy Falls shut out Oak Ridge War Eagle, Kynnyth Maban, 6-0 to win his second gold medal at the Woodlands Invitation with both Calderon and Maban bumping up from 106 last year to 113 this year. This final was a repeat of the gold medal match between Calderon and Madan last week at the 16th annual Cy Ridge Classic that had the same results. We can expect to see a number of good battles between these two wrestlers throughout this year. The bronze medal at 113 was awarded to Freshman Luke Holland of Katy over Cy-Ranch Freshman Jacob Grogan via an injury default in the second.
120 Third seeded Victor Meza, a junior from Cy-Ridge, proved the prognosticators wrong by winning gold in the 120 pound division with a solid 9-3 win over first seeded junior, Richie Axbill, of Cinco Ranch. This was Meza’s first medal in his second Woodlands Invitational appearance. Senior Leo Aceves of College Park edged out Cy-Ranch freshman Jude Camacho to take the bronze in a nail biter 5-4 win.
126 2016 All-American Austin Hernandez, of Cy Ranch, took home his second gold medal of his senior year with a second period pin of Logan Vasquez of Arlington in the finals. Austin also had a redemption victory in the semifinals over Brandon Diaz of Katy who beat Austin early this year. In speaking to Cy Ranch coaching staff, they all agreed that Hernandez is a man on a mission this year and that his commitment and willingness to be a Cy Ranch team leader has been evident. The consensus from many high school and club coaches alike that we spoke to during the tournament was that Austin will likely make a big impact in this, his senior year. Andrew Parsons of College Park handedly won the bronze for the 126 pounders with a win in the 3/4 place finals over Diaz.
132 Undefeated Junior, Garrett Orlando of Cy-Fair, made his mark on the 132 pound division with a major decision victory in the finals over Cinco Ranch fellow junior Drew Lotz. Orlando was no stranger to major decision victories this tournament racking up three and a pin in his four wins at the Woodlands Invitational. Orlando proved to be another solid candidate for MOW of the tourney. Nicholas Nguyen of Klein Oak squeaked out a close 5-4 win over Jared Wood of Cy-Woods
138 The 138 division proved to be a Cy-Fair ISD showdown pitting senior Sabastian Jackson of Cy-Fair against his cross-district rival Gabriel Palos, a junior from Cy-Ridge. The CFISD grapplers gave the attendees an exciting final match that could have gone either way, with Jackson coming away with a win in a “too close for comfort” but well-earned victory. Alex Jacobs of St Thomas also won by a 2-point victory over Payton Grant of Katy to take 3rd
145 Refusing to be outdone by freshman 106 pounder and Katy teammate Jackson Crandall, who turned the 106-pound bracket into a pin-fest, fellow Freshman, Truman Timmons, of Katy matched this amazing feat by his lighter teammate and ended each one of his 6 matches of the tournament with a pin. Earning a gold medal by pinning all of your opponents is tough at any tournament. Doing that in the largest bracket of the tournament (with 27 wrestlers) is even tougher. Accomplishing all of that as a freshman is insane, and Timmons did just that. Watching the Katy’s dynamic duo of freshman phenoms, Crandall and Timmons, will undoubtedly be exciting for the Katy faithful for years to come. Eric Starr of Cy-Ranch went home with the bronze after downing Paul Moore from the host Woodlands Highlanders.
152 The third member of the Katy Tiger hit squad was the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler and absolute hammer, Daniel Manibog. Choosing to win by technical falls rather than by pins, Manibog outscored his opponents by a staggering total 75 to 18 points including a 20-5 technical superiority fall over Ali Ezzeddine of Cy-Falls. Manibog maintained control throughout each one of his matches while keeping his signature humble-but-aggressive style that Katy fans have come to expect from the accomplish Ft. Bend County junior. Third place went to Carlos Cuevas of Cy-Fair who won by an impressive 46 second pin of Gunnar Pierson of The Woodlands
160 Texas prep school wrestler Noah Chan of Kinkaid showed that he could not only compete with but dominate his public school competitors with a stalwart, all-pin win performance in the 160 pound division. The Kinkaid Falcon only needed an astounding 2 minutes and 45 second to scorch his way through 4 matches, with one win coming via forfeit and his gold medal match lasting only 1 minute and 19 seconds. 2nd Place of the tournament went to DJ Owcarz of College Park. Reagan Prevatt of Cinco Ranch earned his 3rd place medal in a 10-8 close win over Christian Wilson of Cy-Ridge.
170 Undefeated Kyle Kretzer of Clear Springs, a 2017 State placer and top seed in the 170 lbs division, earned his place to the top of the tournament podium with a lightning quick pin of Cy-Ranch’s. The quick pin victory was par for the course for Kretzer whose longest match of the day was his 1 minute 27 second match in the quarter finals. In what may go down as an all-time Woodlands Invitational record, and was by-far a record for the 2017 tournament, Kretzer ended the night with 3 sub one minute pins. Matt Trusty Cy-Fair’s Austin Andrew captured his third place medal with an equally impressive 1:44 pin of Jayden Turner of Cinco Ranch
182 182 pounds pitted undefeated Zyire Ardoin of Cinco Ranch against Kimball Christenson, a senior from College Park High School in what proved to be one of the most even first place matches of the night. Ardoin scoried a reversal late in the 3rd period to put the Cinco Ranch wrestler ahead for 2 for the close win. 3rd Place when to Michael Dodgen of Katy who won by a second period pin of Ignacio Fernandez of Arlington
195 The 195 pound class gave us another CFISD final, but this was decided by a forfeit with Josh Wilson of Cy-Fair taking home the gold, Jarod Camacho of Cy-Ranch being awarded the silver. What was missed in action for the 195 gold medal match was more than made up for in the 3rd Place match where Alex Torres of Fulshear pinned Reese Ebarb of Loyola Prep
220 220 gave us Tim Dendy of Cy-Woods, who seems at ease in his new weight division after dropping from 285, the weight class that he called home for the last three years. Having recovered from a shoulder surgery right after the state tournament last year, the Cy Woods team leader also shed the black shoulder brace that was as much a part of his wrestling gear as was his crimson and gold wildcat singlet. If this performance and his undefeated tournament record is any indication, it looks like he has found a home at 220 where he is ready to cause a bit of a shakeup at his new weight class. Dendy finished his last match of the tournament against Jose Marcelo Acosta-Ruiz of Brazoswood with a 3 to 1 win. Christopher Raymondo of Clear Springs topped John Bulovas of The Woodlands to take 3rd place.
285 The 285 pounds division gave many Houston public school wrestling fans their first look this year at North Carolina State commit Colin Lawler of Kinkaid at his new home at heavy weight. According to Lawler’s father Sean, Colin will be making the transition to heavy weight slowing as he gears up to wrestle heavy weight at the D-1 level next year. The 3 time Prep State champion and multi time All-America looked like a natural at heavyweight. If Colin is able to maintain his speed and fast pace as he adds on pounds to his now heavyweight frame, he is going to prove to be a nightmare for anyone facing him at 285 lbs throughout his Sr. year and beyond. In his always modest and respectful manner off the mat, Colin said that he is looking forward to putting on pounds as he prepares to compete at the next level. In his final match, Colin pinned the 3 time Texas prep school heavyweight champion in 2:14 minutes which was his longest match of the day. Colin other 2 matches ended in pins in 39 and 54 seconds. Third place of the heavyweights went to Joshua Tatman, a senior of Oak Ridge who narrowly beat junior TJ Senn of Klein Oak.