McKeefery region champ again; HVA, BHS qualify 8 each

8 HVA state qualifiers

KNOXVILLE —- Keenan Sloan may be injured, but that didn’t stop him from earning a berth at this week’s Class AAA State Wrestling Tournament.

“It’s great to know that I can make it to the state tournament [wrestling] with one hand,” said Sloan, who was one of four Hardin Valley Academy grapplers to post runner-up finishes at Saturday’s Region 2-AAA Tour-nament at Bearden High School. “Last year, I missed the season because I had a broken thumb. This year I tore some ligaments in my thumb and now it’s broken.”

Sloan, a 220-pound sophomore who finished second, earned his spot in the state tournament, which opens today [Feb. 16] in Franklin, with a semifinal victory Saturday morning, Feb. 11. He’s one of eight HVA wrestlers who will be competing in the midstate this week.

“He’s wrestling through injury,” HVA head coach Diego Contreras said of his sophomore.

Joining Sloan in Franklin will be Brandon Dougherty (second in 160-pound class); Josh Pietarila (second at 152); Kameron Isbell (second at 138);

Tyler Hemry (third at 132); Kevin

Brewer (third in 195); Chase Matlack (fourth at 145) and Marshall Murphey (fourth at 170).

“We had some disappointing showings in the finals but we got eight guys qualified for the state, so it was a good day,” Contreras said. “We sent 11 last year but we’re pretty happy to send eight this year. We’re disappointed with the finals. But we’ll fix a few mistakes and we’ll get ready for state.”

“I really wanted to win that championship, and it’s not like I can sit here and say that second is good enough,” Dougherty, a senior with a 20-5 record, said.

Isbell’s close loss to Mathew Maxwell of Gibbs in the 138 finals was voted Outstanding Match of the tournament by the coaches. “I’m happy to get to state,” Isbell, a senior, said. “I just have to keep working hard and learning.”