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story.lead_photo.caption Bentonville High's Luke Brandon (left) won the 170-pound class title of the 6A-7A state wrestling championship tournament Saturday at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock. Brandon secured his third state title and has the most wins in Arkansas wrestling history. - Photo by Benjamin Krain

Bentonville High got a leg up on a top seed for the upcoming Dual State tournament with a hard-fought 35-33 win over Springdale Har-Ber last week.

The Tigers, who are the defending dual state and Class 6A-7A state champions, took advantage of bonus points to earn the tough win against Har-Ber as both teams won seven matches each.

On The Mat

This week’s wrestling meets

Today

Springdale Har-Ber vs. Rogers High

Springdale Har-Ber vs. Rogers Heritage

Springdale High vs. Rogers High

Springdale High vs. Rogers Heritage

Saturday

Rogers High, Bentonville West at Buffalo, Mo., tournament

Rogers Heritage, Springdale High, Springdale Har-Ber, Bentonville High at Seneca (Mo.) Tournament

Bentonville coach James Rappe likes how his team is performing with the dual state tournament a little more than a week away. The Tigers also learned plenty, going 3-3 in the Owasso (Okla.) Rams Duals last weekend, Rappe said.

"I think we're in a good place," Rappe said. "I still think we need to continue to work hard and get sharper and sharper. There are lots of people out there training hard. Har-Ber is a good program over there with some good kids. If they have some things go their way, that dual could have been entirely different. Alex Crowe holding Quentin Reed to a decision was big for us."

Reed won 3-2 in the final match of the dual. But that gave Har-Ber just three team points. If Reed gets a fall, that's six points and Har-Ber takes the dual 36-35.

"It's really close between the two teams," Rappe said. "I don't think either team disappointed. They may have been disappointed not to walk away with the 'W', but I think kids on both sides put on a show."

Bentonville finishes up duals against rival Bentonville West tonight, then takes on Van Buren and Fayetteville next week. That double dual was postponed because of winter weather. The Tigers, who haven't lost a dual to an in-state school, likely need to win two of three to secure the No. 1 seed from the West for the Dual State tournament, which will be held Feb. 3 in Fayetteville.

The tournament pits the top four teams from the West against the top four teams from the Central.

Searcy is the likely No. 1 seed from the Central, followed by Little Rock Central at No. 2. The final two spots are still up for grabs. Cabot, Conway and Bryant are the teams fighting for those berths.

Final tune-up weekend

Several area schools will be headed to Seneca, Mo., for the People's Bank of Seneca Tournament, which could help settle some seeding issues for upcoming Big West Conference and state tournament.

Bentonville, Springdale High, Springdale Har-Ber and Rogers Heritage will be in Seneca, while Bentonville West and Rogers High will travel to Buffalo, Mo., for a tournament over the weekend.

Springdale High's Isaac Ponce would face Har-Ber's Trevor Davis in a big matchup at 113 pounds. Davis did not wrestle in their dual on Tuesday because of illness.

Springdale Har-Ber

Wildcats coach Eric Nolen may have been disappointed with the tough dual loss to Bentonville, but not in his wrestlers.

"It was a great dual on both ends," Nolen said. "I can handle a loss when our kids go out and battle, and they did that."

Har-Ber bounced back to perform well in a tournament in Overland Park, Kan., over the weekend.

Senior Alejandro Ramirez won the heavyweight classification, while Ben Fears (182) and Brendan Davis (120) each took second. Logan Collins (195) and Quentin Reed each finished third.

Ramirez has come a long way in a year's time, Nolen said.

"Alejandro had a great weekend," Nolen said. "He beat a kid who was ranked No. 1 in Kansas in the finals. He also had a couple other quality wins. He was the three seed and won the tournament. That's always good when you can wrestle higher than your seed.

"Last year it was evident he had a lot of tools. The longer he's on the mat, he's getting better and smarter about how he should approach matches. Brendan Davis had another good weekend. Ben Fears ran into a tough kid out of Iowa in the finals. He had a cradle locked up but couldn't get the kid turned. Max Salinas lost a heart-breaker in triple overtime in the semis."

Springdale High

Coach Josh Rivers talks about firsts for the Springdale High program, and the Red Bulldogs are on the cusp of one.

If Springdale beats Rogers High and Rogers Heritage in duals tonight, the Red'Dogs would secure their first berth in the dual state tournament. Springdale would be the No. 3 seed from the West in the Feb. 3 tournament, which matches the top four Class 6A-7A dual teams from the West against the top four from the Central.

"It would be pretty big for us," Rivers said. "The guys are working really hard, and it's showing. That would make us eight and two in conference duals. That's a big thing if we can pull it off.

"Rogers beat us by one two years ago and by two last year to beat us out, so we have been close."

The Red'Dogs lost 46-28 to rival Springdale Har-Ber on Tuesday, but Rivers said his team has made steady progress there, too. In addition, they had a wrestler not make weight by two-tenths of a pound that forced them to rearrange their lineup.

"When I came here it was like starting from scratch almost," Rivers said. "Now it's grown. We only scored like 15 against Har-Ber two years ago, then 17 and this year 28 points. It's starting to show."

Sports on 01/25/2018

Print Headline: Bentonville getting ready for postseason

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