PIKEVILLE - Somerset Wrestling Club finished third in the state, out 67 teams from across the Bluegrass State, on Sunday at Appalachian Wireless Arena. Last year the Briar Jumpers wrestling team finished fourth overall.
"We didn't even feel like it was a disappointment finishing third because we have really grown a lot in terms of being physical and tough," stated Somerset Wrestling Coach Model Hunter. "Our motto this year which started after State ended last year was to apply #PRESSURE. We are very pleased to be in a great position just in two years."
Somerset finished with 317 points, behind state champion Colt Wrestling's 376 points and Warhawks Wrestling Club's 346.5 points. The Somerset Wrestling Club had five individual state champion wrestlers on the day. Mason Brooks, Ryder Upchurch, Tatum Strunk, Carson Stachulski, and Brayden McCrystal all won wrestling state titles in their respective classes.
Kaiden Alexander placed second at Peewee (6U) 40A. Zander Upchurch placed fourth Peewee (6U) 40B.
"Kaiden and Zander both are just four-years old and they will continue to get better, it's scary for other programs," Hunter stated.
Ryder Upchurch placed first at Bantam (8U) 43. Upchurch has now won back-to-back state wrestling titles.
Tatum Strunk placed first at Bantam (8U) 45.
"Tatum has really been business oriented all year," Hunter stated. Well, this year he wanted to win, and he did just that. I refer to him as Mr. Taking Care of Business."
John Davis placed fourth at Bantam (8U) 49A.
"John placed second last year and he really didn't start wrestling well until Regionals, so it was good to see him get better," Hunter stated.
Ryker Goldson did not place at Bantam (8U) 49B. Carson Stachulski placed first at Bantam (8U) 49C.
"Carson is probably the best natural wrestler I have ever coached," explained Hunter. "He wrestles all positions like his life is on the line. Carson dominated the State Tournament becoming a State Champ. In two years, we have 10 individual State Champions and six of those individual State Champions were first year wrestlers just like Carson."
Deshawn Martin placed third at Bantam (8U) 53C. Emory Mize did not place Bantam (8U) 56A. Noah Eldridge did not place Bantam (8U) 56B. Eli Shepherd placed third at Bantam (8U) 85. Conner Shepherd placed second at Bantam (8U) 85.
"Eli and Connor are twins and they probably won every tournament they wrestled all year," Hunter exclaimed.
Levi King did not place at Intermediate (10U) 49. Alex Upchurch did not place at Intermediate (10U) 49. Mason Brooks placed first at Intermediate (10U) 53A.
"The biggest win came over returning State Champ, Landon Byers," Hunter said. "Mason lost by major decision last year to Landon going home with second place. I felt as a coach that we could've done some things better. So, we have been waiting 365 days to get back to the finals. We saw him in the second round. Mason trailed the first two periods."
"I reminded Mason that in order to be a State Champion you must wrestle for three periods," Hunter continued. "We went to sudden overtime and Mason hit Landon with a Tomahawk again after defending an earlier late takedown with a whizzer. He ended up wrestling three periods to become a two-time State Champion. As one by-standing coach said Mason 'Just broke him'."
James-Michael Vaughn did not place at Intermediate (10U) 53B. Cody Allen placed fifth at Intermediate (10U) 63B. Joshua Ray did not place at Intermediate (10U) 67A. Anykn Johnson did not place at Intermediate (10U) 71A.
"Anykn lost a controversial call, but he never stopped," Hunter said. "I was heart broken because he has really gotten a lot better. He kept wrestling, which is a testament of how to handle a bad situation with humbleness and hard work."
Peyton Benedict placed fourth at Intermediate (10U) 71B. Trevin Durham placed sixth at Intermediate (10U) 77B. Chase Crawford placed fourth at Intermediate (10U) 84A.
"This kid (Crawford) battled back through consolation rounds wrestling seven times to place again in the state tournament in back-to-back years.
Nathan Frye did not place at Intermediate (10U) 105B. Carter Lawless placed second at Intermediate (10U) HWT. Ethan McCrystal did not place at Novice (12U) 63. Cameron Underwood did not place at Novice (12U) 67A.
For kids like Cameron, the unquestionable leader was in a stacked bracket," Hunter said. "He did not win, but I had to remind him of this. We wrestled harder tournaments than our State tournament all year."
Taylor Murphy did not place at Novice (12U) 67B. Marlee Durham did not place at Novice (12U) 92B. Zachary Benedict did not place at Novice (12U) 108. Wardell McAdoo did not place at Novice (12U) 108. Austyn Lawless placed third at Novice (12U) SHWT. Cayden Howard did not place at Middle School (14U) 80.
Jazlyn Durham did not place at Middle School (14U) 98B. Kristopher Hughes place did not place at Middle School (14U) 105A. Brayden McCrystal placed first at Middle School (14U) 121A.
"Brayden won every one of his matches by pins this season, going undefeated," Hunter stated. "He pinned every wrestler in the State tournament earning his first State Championship. You can ask the McCrystal family about where we started from, the little store front church on Cundiff."
Cayden Watson did not place at Middle School (14U) 121B. Navi King did not place at Middle School (14U) 130B. Estin Bruns placed third at Middle School (14U) 140B.
"Estin made such a huge leap from last year up to this year," said Hunter.
Anthony Ray placed fifth at Middle School (14U) 152A. James Ledford Jr. did not place at Middle School (14U) 152B. Zachary Carter did not place at Middle School (14U) 168.