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Shurina, Landers 2nd in KC tourney

Top drama came in the very last match — featuring the host school’s most highly honored wrestler — at the annual Knoxville Catholic Invitational Saturday afternoon, Dec. 5.

Greg Shurina, KCHS heavyweight (285-pound class), two-time KIL champ and two-time state qualifier, battled to the final second with Baylor sophomore Barret Gouger in the heavyweight title showdown.

Two lead changes in the final 40 seconds ended with Gouger a 5-4 winner — Shurina admitted a “bad luck” mistake in the final seconds was costly — as the Irish standout senior loses for the first time this season (6-1).

“I feel like I should have won it, but I need to practice more, work harder,” Shurina said of the duel voted “Best Match” of the tourney.

Shurina said he’s “doing real good” this season and “should do well at state” because of his coaches, which include co-head coaches Don Beardsley and Junior Hernandez.

Bearden improved dramatically over its team finish in 2008, taking sixth-place among the 16-team field led by junior Peyton Landers’ (189) second-place finish. Baylor was team champ.

BHS teammate Ian McKinley (112) finished third, pinning Austin Williams of Sprayberry (Ga.) in the consolation finals.

Catholic’s Jared Julies (145) also finished third thanks to a 12-5 win versus Derek Wagner of Halls in the consolation finals.

Kyle Mitchell of Webb School (152) also claimed third, beating Nathan Tranter of Sprayberry 10-2.

Kyle Walter (119) of Bearden was fourth. (More results and details later in this story).

Down 3-1 after two periods, Shurina scored two critical points late to go up 4-3 with less than a minute left. But “locked hands” would prove costly with just 21.7 seconds remaining.

Because Shurina's hands touched inadvertently, “[The referee] called ‘locked hands,’ so I let him go and he got two points on me. It was bad luck on my part.”

Not realizing it was a “locked hands” situation and willing to conceide an escape point, Shurina said, “I didn't want to let him get two points for the switch, so I let him go thinking I'd be tied up so I'd go into overtime, and I could take him from neutral.”

Jim Morgan, head coach of perennial Division II powerhouse Baylor, said Shurina “is a very, very good wrestler. We've seen him for years, and we were fortunate to come out with that one.”

Landers said he earned second-place by taking “a lot of shots, I kept working hard. I did what my coach [Donnie Floyd] told me. ”

Also a standout linebacker with BHS’s football team that went into second-round state tourney play [Nov. 13], Landers said his transition into wrestling involved almost instantly going into matches without much practice.

“I came off an injury from football, my shoulder [strained AC joint] ... I couldn't wrestle for a week or two. It's not a hundred percent but it's pretty good.”

Floyd said Landers “had a really, really good tournament. Ran into a tough guy at Baylor. Ian did really well, he was very close to making the finals. Kyle did very well.”

Other wrestlers with fifth-place efforts were KCHS’s Ray Reinke (103) and Lewis Jones (112) of Webb. Placing in sixth were Jacob Philpot (140), Jake Knox (160) and Michael Avery (285) of BHS, and Kenny Campbell (171) of Christian Academy of Knoxville.

“Jake Knox, a freshman, has a lot of talent and we're going to keep improving it,” Floyd said.

“Last year we took third from last at this tournament, and we took [sixth] as a team today. ... I'm really happy,” Floyd added.


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