The defending Class 6A state champion Bentonville Tigers are off to a good start this season, and they aren't even fully healthy yet.
The Tigers won the Battle for the Bling in Fayetteville before Christmas and also took the Bentonville West Invitational championship.
Tristan Stafford (106) was one of four wrestlers to win their respective weight class in Fayetteville, and he also was named Outstanding Wrestler for the lower weights. He's currently undefeated but didn't wrestle at Bentonville West because he was taking the ACT.
Jake Adams is also off to a strong start, getting the win at both tournaments.
Bentonville coach Jason Adams likes what he's seen thus far from his team.
"We had a pretty good preseason that got the guys ready," Adams said. "Overall, our guys have wrestled well. We just need to keep building off that. January's going to be busy."
Stafford, the defending state champion and two-time All-American, has filled out some and could even bump to 113 this season, Adams said.
"Last year he was 5-10 pounds underweight and still did very well," Adams said. "This year, he's not the smallest 106-pounder in the state. He's not the tiny guy in the bracket. An extra year of growth has really helped him out."
The Tigers return nine starters from last year's lineup, two of which have been slowed by injuries this season. They will be tested this weekend at a tournament in Cushing, Okla., which includes stout competition.
The Bentonville girls team also has two tournament wins.
Adams said the group of 11 girls has worked hard and had a great attitude.
"We faced some girls from Missouri who had an extra year of experience, but our girls scrapped with them," Adams said. "They've got the right attitude and work ethic. They just need some more mat time."
Wolverines coach Aaron Wise said his team has some work to do after finishing seventh in last weekend's Diamond State Duals held at Springdale Har-Ber.
Bentonville West finished 5-5 in duals but struggled on the second day of the two-day event, Wise said.
He pointed to a dual on the first day in which his team was able to hang with a talented Seneca, Mo., team, which ended up winning the tournament. But the performance went downhill after that according to Wise.
"I'm pretty disappointed really," Wise said. "The first time we wrestled Seneca we lost by 13. Cassville, for instance, we beat them by 20 or more on the first day. But we lost to them on the second day.
"We've gotta be a little tougher. It's just something we have to work on."
On the girls' side, Kassidy Haggard (13-1) took second at the Diamond State Invitational last weekend. Wise said she's continuing to progress despite her first loss of the season. She dropped a match to a wrestler from Cassville, Mo., who she'd beaten to win an earlier tournament at Springdale Har-Ber.
"She made a mistake in that match, but the next match she went out and fixed it," Wise said. "We're trying to get her matches as much as we can."
Junior Jose Orellana came back strong from an injury to grab second in the 170-pound weight class at the Kinloch Classic in Springfield, Mo., over the holiday break.
Orellana (14-5) got a big semifinal win over a wrestler from Sprinfield Glendale, who was the No. 2 seed, before falling in the finals to an undefeated competitor from Buffalo, Mo.
"He's always had ability," Rogers Heritage coach Doug Freeman said. "He just needed to believe in himself. He wrestled well earlier in the year at Jay and then got hurt. He's about 10 matches behind the others. This was a good tournament for him."
Orellana could drop to 160 if some other War Eagles can get healthy, Freeman said.
Edgar Banuelos (27-5) also took third at 106, bouncing back from a tough 12-8 loss in the semifinals to win two on the backside.
"He wrestled really well," Freeman said. "We gave up four right off the bat, and that came back to haunt us. He got back to 10-8, but then we were trying for the tie and he got us."
Sophomore Addison Loney not only won the 132-pound weight class at the recent Diamond State Invitational girls tournament at Springdale Har-Ber, but she was also named the Outstanding wrestler.
"She pretty much ran through it," Van Buren coach John Petree said. "She had four pins and a tech (technical fall)."
Loney is 11-1 with her lone loss being in a tournament in Conway earlier this season.
"She was winning 11-5 and got in a headlock and got pinned," Petree said.
Wrestling isn't new to Loney as she wrestled on Van Buren's varsity boys team as a freshman and even picked up three or four wins. She also has a win over a male wrestler this season, too.
Teammate Kelseigh Archer also won the 185-pound weight class.
Preps Sports on 01/09/2020