Culmination of Wins Prepares Wrestlers for State

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On Jan. 11, Warrior Wrestling won its first tournament as a team. It came against 11 other public and private programs that were represented at the Trinity Christian Addison Invitation Tournament.

“We had upsets against proven opponents, and solid performances from our leaders,” said head coach David Hughes.

In 14 weight classes, 11 Liberty Christian wrestlers placed in their respective weight class. Eight wrestlers reached the finals, and four students ended the day as champions.

“Junior Avrey Webb made a name for himself by beating two seeded opponents,” Coach Hughes said. “Back to back, he beat the fourth seeded wrestler of his bracket, and the first seeded wrestler on his way to the finals.”

Wrestling team celebrates first place at Prep State Dual

Junior and newcomer Tanner Terry also had a very exciting match to upset the No. 2 seeded wrestler to reach the finals. In suspenseful action, senior Austin Mann won his first tournament of his career as Warrior. Senior Christian Palmer placed third by a pin giving the team an edge to secure the win. Champions included Austin Mann, Dawson Neal, Gage Reesor, and Chase Roth. Second place finishers were Matt Marrs, Dawson Parker, Tanner Terry, and Avrey Webb.

On Jan. 25 at McKinney Christian Academy, the Warriors won the State Prep Dual Championships in a competition that included 16 prep teams from across Texas and one from Oklahoma. Teams faced off in pools and then in brackets to determine the top prep dual wrestling team of Texas.

“It was a very exciting day, and I was so proud of the way all of our team members prepared to fight for themselves and their teammates,” said Coach Hughes. “Prior to this competition, we had experienced some down performances and struggles. But after a team meeting and practice, our captains realigned everyone’s focus and ambition for the team.”

Coach Hughes said he could tell from the early morning that the Warriors were focused and ready to go.

“Right from the start, we competed with purpose and without fear,” he said. “In our pool, we defeated Dallas Bishop Dunne, Casady School of Oklahoma, and McKinney Christian Academy with a combined score of 200 to 32.”

In semifinals, Liberty faced St. John’s School of Houston, a very good and established program. In last year’s dual against the same team, the Warriors won by one point, a very close and intense matchup. Coach Hughes said that in this year’s matchup, the Warriors wrestled very well in some very exciting come-from-behind wins. The total score was 60 to 19 for Liberty.

This win set up a much anticipated matchup between Liberty and Houston St. Thomas. In the past three years, St. Thomas has won three state championships in a row and has built a well-known reputation for its wrestling program.

“We were down to one mat, and all of the audience surrounded the mat in chairs and on their feet to have the best seat in the house,” said Coach Hughes.

Senior Matt Marrs started the finals with a pin over his opponent. Garrett Sawyer carried the momentum into his match and won by a pin. After Austin Mann received a forfeit from St. Thomas, the Warriors held the team lead 18 to 0. After a forfeit and two losses, the team score was tied at 18 all.

Freshman Dawson Parker pinned his opponent for six team points. Returning all-state wrestler and sophomore Paul Barbaro followed with a pin of his own. Newcomer and sophomore Chase Roth (UIL 4A state champion) pinned his opponent to put Liberty Christian ahead 36 to 18. After a loss, returning TAPPS state champions Dawson Neal and Gage Reesor sealed the victory with wins of their own to put the team score at 44 to 24. The final two matches were intense battles as Tyler Clifford fell just short of victory and Junior Avrey Webb capped the night with a decision. In the end, the final score was Liberty Christian 47 to St. Thomas’ 30.

“Our boys dug really deep on Saturday and found the will to fight no matter the circumstances,” said Coach Hughes. “They fought for each other, and they truly grasped the concept of team.

“It was pure joy to watch these young men compete fearlessly like they did.”

The Warriors wrestle at the Prep State Tournament on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at Episcopal Houston, at the TAPPS State Tournament at Houston St. Thomas on Feb. 8, and at Prep Nationals at LeHigh University in Pennsylvania on Feb. 20. 

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