Keenan hosts the Region 4-2A wrestling tournament Friday. The action starts at 6 p.m.
Keenan, Columbia, Eau Claire and Central are the team entries for the showcase of fledgling mat programs. Columbia clearly is the strongest, deepest team in the field. The Capitals went through the regular season with an 8-6 dual match record, including a 4-0 showing in region bouts.
“The season has been a successful one, in my opinion,” said Columbia coach Joe Lovier.
“I'm pleased with the progress our kids have made. We have incredible sophomore and freshman class that I'm really excited about. I believe that all of the young kids will be back next year, which is something that hasn't happened before. It feels like we're coming together as a team, not just a bunch of individuals.”
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The Capitals region tournament lineup features sophomore Dee Brown (3-2 at 10), sophomore Da'Vonne Montgomery (130), freshman Trey Harper (16-12 at 135), sophomore Ronald Bridgette (140) senior Antonio Geiger (13-12 at 145) freshman William Childs (4-12 at 152), sophomore Demetri Cureton (4-2 at 160), junior Trey Leonard (23-4 at 171), junior Jerry Johnson (18-7 at 189) and senior Malcolm Brown (11-14 at 215).
Leonard and Johnson are both ranked fifth in their respective weight classes in Class 2A-1A by scmat.com.
“Jerry is close to turning the corner and becoming a powerhouse,” said Lovier. “He's not quite there yet, but he's close. Trey has done an unbelievable job this year. He continues to improve everyday on the mat and in conditioning.”
Leonard has a good shot at a place finish at the state individual tournament at the end of February. The reason for the optimism is Leonard beat Gilbert’s Jeff Hoover, the No. 2 ranked man at 171, the last two times the foes met.
The Caps suffered a big loss recently when freshman Randy Medina suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in practice. Medina, a freshman, had a 19-6 record at 112 pounds and was a heavy favorite to win a region title in his first season in the sport.
Keenan has a number of region title contenders, including heavyweight Matthew Johnson, Antuan Pearsons at 171 and Anthony Harris at 189. Johnson currently is ranked No. 3 among 2A-1A heavies.