Tigers aim for back-to-back titles
On The Mat
Fourth Annual Arkansas Wrestling Coaches/Officials Association Dual State Tournament
At Bulldog Arena, Fayetteville
Bentonville High vs. Fayetteville High, 10:30 a.m.
Little Rock Central vs. Springdale High, 10:30 a.m.
Searcy vs. Bentonville West, 10:30 a.m.
Springdale Har-Ber vs. Little Rock Catholic, 10:30 a.m.
Bentonville-Fayetteville winner vs. Central-Springdale winner, noon.
Searcy-West winner vs. Har-Ber-Catholic winner, noon.
Tournament finals, 3 p.m.
Bentonville High was missing several regulars, including coach James Rappe, but the Tigers still managed a third-place finish at the People's Bank of Seneca tournament over the weekend.
The Tigers, who are the defending dual state champions, should be at full strength for the fourth annual Arkansas Wrestling Coaches/Officials Association Dual State Tournament on Saturday in Fayetteville.
The dual state tournament is not sanctioned by the Arkansas Activities Association but was assembled by the wrestling coaches to determine the best Class 6A and 7A team in the dual format, which matches teams in each of the 14 weight classes.
The top four teams from the West and the top four teams from the Central qualify by virtue of their conference dual records. Quarterfinals begin at 10:30 Saturday morning in Bulldog Arena. The tournament finals are slated to begin at 3 p.m.
Rappe, who was attending a funeral over the weekend, said his team has plenty of flexibility in its lineup for this weekend. Bentonville is 26-5 in duals, but 13-0 against Arkansas opponents this season.
"Our lineup is in better position than this time a month ago," Rappe said. "James Crow at 152 allows us more options. Isaiah Yorba could wrestle at 52, 60 or 70. Nathan Desler could wrestle at 52, 60 or 70. We could move Cash Jones anywhere from 160 to 195.
"That gives us a lot of flexibility moving forward where we can look for the matchups that we want. We're in a good place. We had seven guys out dealing with illness and were still able to get third last weekend."
Jones was Bentonville's lone winner at Seneca, improving to 55-1 on the season. Rappe said sophomore Obi Smith, a state medalist as a freshman, is progressing nicely, along with freshman Raphael Marascio.
There hasn't been a repeat dual state champion, so Bentonville will try to break new ground there. But the team that has won dual state has also went on to win the state team title two weeks later.
Rappe expects the duals to come down to bonus points similar to what happened earlier this season when the Tigers edged Springdale Har-Ber 35-33. The teams split the 14 matches equally, but Bentonville picked up the narrow win thanks to bonus points.
"I expect it to be a great show with some great wrestling taking place," Rappe said. "All these teams have quality kids. It will be about eliminating bonus and earning bonus. That's the one who will walk away with it at the end."
Bowman likely to return to mat
The Wildcats will be looking to claim a dual state title this weekend, and they will likely have an addition to the lineup.
Britton Bowman was fourth in the 6A-7A state at 160 pounds last year but chose not to come out for the team initially this season. Wildcats coach Eric Nolan said he could help shore up that area of the lineup.
"He's a good kid and a two-time state medalist," Nolan said. "We're pretty solid in most weights, which puts us in good position in the dual format."
If Bowman slots in at 170, that could only add to some strong upper weights for Har-Ber.
Seniors Quentin Reed (220) and Alejandro Ramirez (285) each won their weight class in Seneca last weekend to help the Wildcats to a second-place team finish, just ahead of Bentonville.
"Those guys have really stepped up lately; those guys along with Ben Fears and Logan Collins have made our upper weights strong all year," Nolan said.
Har-Ber and Bentonville enjoyed a highly competitive dual earlier in the season, and Nolan is hopeful of another.
Wolverines get first shot at dual state trophy
The Wolverines are getting healthier, and the timing couldn't be better.
Bentonville West earned a spot in Saturday's Dual State tournament for the first time and could have freshman Jake Adams back on the mat for the first time in two months.
The Wolverines are coming off their first tournament victory in school history, winning the Thundering Herd Invitational in Buffalo, Mo., over the weekend.
West coach Aaron Wise believes his team has a shot to place in the top four, despite being the No. 4 seed from the West. The Wolverines wrestled several duals without a few key performers, and they won't have Walker Fox, who finished second at 113 pounds in the state tournament last season. He was lost to an injury for the season.
But the lineup is still formidable, Wise said.
"When we're healthy I believe we're a top four team in the state," Wise said. "We've got a tough road. But I think it's a totally doable goal to place. We just have to wrestle to our potential. We're starting to get healed up and get out of the sickness phase. Hopefully, we've got that behind us."
Wise said he's looking at moving some guys around to make for a more solid dual lineup, including junior Connor Klein going from 160 to 152. Adams is also a likely state contender at 120.
West will take on Searcy, the top seed from the Central which is 28-0 in duals this season. If the Wolverines were to win there, Springdale Har-Ber, the No. 2 seed from the West, likely awaits in the semifinals.
Wise agreed though his team is likely better suited for upcoming state tournament rather than the dual format.
"I think we have maybe six guys capable of making the finals," Wise said. "We have several guys who can accumulate a lot of bonus points."
Sports on 02/01/2018
Print Headline: WRESTLING REPORT: Bentonville High aims for back-to-back dual state titles