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Maxwell, BHS duo lead 18-wrestler state field

Nick Maxwell and Kevin McGuire had dramatic finishes with different results, Jake Knox carried on a family tradition of region title success while Nelson Pinkstaff hopes he’s rekindled past glory.

Three Westside high school wrestlers won Region 2 championships at Farragut High School Saturday evening, Feb. 12.

Four Westsiders claimed region runner-up honors, joining 11 others qualifying for Division I state tourney in Franklin Feb. 17-19.

Maxwell of Hardin Valley Academy, state-ranked in the 130-pound class with a 148-12 career record, rallied in the final seconds to win the region crown, 12-11, against Logan Young of Gibbs.

For his efforts, “I busted some blood vessels in my [left] arm, I can’t grip anything,” said an exhausted Maxwell, a senior who qualified for state a fourth consecutive season, having finished second in state at 103 as a sophomore in 2009. “Hopefully God will help me through this.”

To win at the end, “I flipped him on his back,” Maxwell said.

HVA head coach Rudy Furman, whose Hawks finished third among a 16-team field Saturday, said Maxwell “knows how to get out of sticky situations,” using a last-second “reversal” to win.

“He has had a lot of pressure on him this year, being a senior and returning region champion,” Furman added.

It was Maxwell’s second close victory against Young in less than two weeks.

Knox, a BHS sophomore at 160 (24-3), won his first-ever region crown to join older brothers Joe and Justin — Farragut graduates — as past region champs.

The sophomore edged David Vaigneur of Hardin Valley 5-3.

Knox credited his success to “paying attention to my coaches [head coach Donnie Floyd and Jake’s oldest brother, Joe] and looking for openings on my angles.”

Knox said having Floyd and his brothers as mentors “has meant a lot to me ... I just hope to be as good as my brothers. Coach Floyd’s a great coach, taught me a lot.” Floyd said “there’s a lot of good things to come” from Knox, who won two matches at state last year as a 160 region runner-up freshman.

Pinkstaff, a Bulldog junior at 171 who said he’s only recently been able to wrestle consistently on the high school level due to a chronic shoulder injury, easily pinned David Kieta of Pigeon Forge in the finals. “I had nine screws put in,” said Pinkstaff about his latest surgery, adding he was a two-time national tourney champ at Christian Academy of Knoxville Middle School.

In addition to Floyd’s coaching, “I’ve been training with Daniel Frishkorn, he’s a former All-American at Oklahoma State.”

Floyd said Pinkstaff, a transfer from powerful Baylor in Chattanooga who’s only wrestled a few matches this season, “has got as good a chance as anybody” to win state.

McGuire, a BHS senior and defending 140 region champ, faced the same wrestler he edged in OT to win last year — Pigeon Forge’s Nathaniel Parton.

This time, however, Parton made it happen at the very end: a takedown with only 15 seconds left in the match turned McGuire's 10-9 lead into a heartbreaking 11-10 loss for the Bulldog senior. “He's my first four-year wrestler,” Floyd said of McGuire (25-6 record).

Farragut's top finisher, heavyweight sophomore C.T. Leavell, finished second and carries a 41-7 record to state in a season including runner-up finishes at Carpet Classic in Dalton, Ga. and No. 2 at Halls Invitational.

“That is a great accomplishment,” FHS head coach Tim Brunson said. “From last year to this year he's much, much better.”

Other Westside runner-ups were junior Jackson Beggs of HVA at 125 (21-7) and junior John Cortese of Knoxville Catholic at 189 (30-9).

Catholic placed fourth as a team Saturday with five Irish state qualifiers. “I can't be happier,” KCHS co-head coach Don Beardsley said. “My co-head coach, Junior Hernandez, deserves a lot of credit with the hands-on stuff.”

Admiral senior Connor Johnson, 140, finished third. “Had a great year ... can't be more proud of my senior,” Brunson said.

A.J. Moore of Hardin Valley took third at 119 after pinning fourth-place Henley Baugh of Catholic. Aaron Wirthwein of KCHS returned to favor to HVA at 135, capturing third by beating No. 4 Theo Smith 12-5.

Nathan Teter of Catholic, a sophomore who caught fire late in the season, took third at 145. “That was the biggest surprise, he was unseeded,” Beardsley said.

HVA’s Tim Vara makes yet another trip to state (third at 152). Junior Kenny Campbell of CAK grabbed third at 160. “We're really proud of him, he's really worked hard,” CAK head coach Phillip Maxwell said.

Catholic’s Ray Reinke (125) and Hawk heavyweight Alejandro Guizar both placed fourth.


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