Tahlequah Daily Press

High School Sports

February 21, 2014

CLASS 5A REGIONAL PREVIEW: Search for state spots

Class 5A wrestlers descend on Tahlequah for regional tournament

bjohnson@tahlequahdailypress.com

Tahlequah wrestlers will have the fortune of having their home locker room at their disposal this weekend. But Tahlequah coach James Rappe doesn't necessarily see that as an advantage at this week's Class 5A regional tournament at the Tahlequah Multipurpose Activity Center.

"It's still pretty neutral," Rappe said. "We just have the extra burden of wrestling on our home mats."

However, Rappe said he wanted to bring postseason wrestling to Tahlequah to pay homage to his seniors, Hestin Lamons and Mitch Sellers.

"I really wanted to host regionals because this is special group this year," Rappe said. "This will be my first year with a group graduating that I've been with all the way."

One of the non-seniors set to do battle on Friday and Saturday is Reese Davis. At 160 pounds, Davis doesn't foresee a huge advantage to wrestling at home, but he does expect a few more fans than the ones who follow Tahlequah on the road.

"We will have a lot of fans," Davis said. "And no one wants to lose at home, so it brings out something that's not always there."

Davis, a junior, enters the regional after posting three top-two finishes at tournament this season. He won individual titles at 160 pounds at the McAlester and Pryor tournaments, and he finished second at 170 pounds at the Bristow tournament. The only time he wasn't in the top two was when he placed fifth at the Carl Albert tournament.

"I've been wrestling tough all year and Carl Albert just wasn't my weekend," he said. "I just have to wrestle solid and get points where I can."

With Sellers and Lamons at 145 and 152 pounds, respectively, Davis has solid examples to go off of before he steps onto the mat.

"Mitch and Hestin have been my peers," Davis said, "and I just try and keep up with their state performances."

Both Sellers and Lamons figure to pick their fourth state-tournament berths weekend. And Rappe doesn't see it playing out any differently.

"Mitch should be strong. He should be the No. 2 seed behind (Collinsville's Will) Steltzlen," Rappe said. "But he should be ahead of Pryor's (Kelvin) Grubbs since Mitch won the last matchup.

"Lamons should be the clear-cut No. 1 seed. His only loss was to (Jenks' Austin) Eades — who is a state champion."

Also vying for state-tournament spots for Tahlequah should be Zech VanFleet (132), Wright Weavel (126), Joseph Tucker (285) and Paul Sargent (138), who has been shoulder problems for the second half of the season.

"It's not going to be cake walk," Rappe said.

Davis knows that and says he's ready to give it a go.

"I'm excited for regionals," said Davis, whose team hasn't wrestled a dual or a tournament since Feb. 1. "I'm just ready to wrestle."

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