Gilbert’s rise on the Midlands wrestling scene continued at the Class 2A Upper State qualifying meet where a record seven Indians earn invitations to state tournament this weekend at Lexington.
“We had six guys make it last year, so we’re pleased to do a little better this season,” said fourth-year Gilbert coach Tracy Gooding. “Now, we’d like to finally get somebody to finish in the top four for the first time.”
Gilbert has yet to have a state place finisher, but the odds seem to be in the Indians favor this time around.
The Indians state contingent features Austin Amick (34-10 at 112), Matt Risinger (29-7 at 130), Justin Miller (39-10 at 145), Drew Neff (37-9 at 152), Mathew Chapman (37-7 at 160), Jeff Hoover (43-5 at 171) and Zak Watkins (39-8 at 189).
Hoover was the individual star at the Upper State gathering, winning the 171 championship with a tight decision of area rival Trey Leonard of Columbia. Hoover enters ranked No. 2 by scamt.com, and takes on Dakota Landrie of Indian Land in the first round on Friday. Hoover, who has made the state cut for the third time, is Gilbert’s best bet to crack the top four.
Miller and Risinger should also have good shots after turning in second-place finishes as the Upper State meet. Risinger draws Hanahan’s Michael Wolfe in the first round, while takes on tough Tyler Jennings of Cheraw, a two-time state qualifier who was a consolation champion at 140 in 2007.
Neff and Chapman were third-place finishers at Upper State. Neff meets Bishop England’s Brian Van Metre in the first round, and Chapman faces Al Thomas of Bamberg-Ehrhardt. Amick and Watkins were fourth-place finishers at Upper State, and both have demanding first-round outings on tap against Lower State champions. Amick squares off with Bishop England’s Derrick Geiges, a two-time qualifier who was the state runner-up last year at 103. Watkins, who under performed a bit last week, is up against Cheraw senior Kenyatta Gray, who is back after making the cut in 2006 and 2007 (with a fourth-place finish at 171 as a sophomore).
David Amick and Leon Watts just fell short of joining their teammates as state, but both lost in the consolation semifinals last week. Amick finished with a 32-10 record at 125, while Watts closed at 17-7 at heavyweight.