The Princeton boys and girls wrestling teams went to the district championships in Lovejoy last Saturday, with several Panther wrestlers qualifying for regionals.
Delaying the event on multiple occasions for bad weather closing the school, Princeton had to wait until Saturday to claim its crown as the District 9-5A champions for girls wrestling. The Lady Panthers finished with 163 team points, edging out Carrolton Creekview (144.5 points), Whitesboro (128 points) and Anna (126 points) for the top spot.
Of the 10 competitors in the tournament, eight Lady Panthers qualified for the regional meet, led by individual district champions Erin Marquez, Paris Kelleher, Makayla Johnson and Brianna Tenpenny. Kelleher won her second consecutive district championship as only a sophomore and hopes to get back to the state meet as she did last season and compete for a medal.
“We’re young and we still don’t have a senior on our girls team,” head coach Ryan DeLaVergne said. “Our goal was to take care of the district this season and prepare to potentially win regionals and compete for state next year. They did such a great job though and we want to compete. Paris is our first two-time district championship in school history and we’re excited about what she can do.”
Scarlet Hillis, Alyssa Irons, Jahnna Espanol and Rebekah Sorrell also qualified for the regional championships for the Lady Panthers. The team competed at a high level, and all qualifiers will head to Anna next weekend for the regional championships.
“We took 10 on both sides and qualified eight from each team which is an amazing thing to see,” DeLaVergne said. “Our girls did exactly what I expected them to do which was to go out and win a district championship, but our goal down the stretch is to win a regional championship and compete for that and get ready for state. I believe in their talent and think they might be ready.”
On the boys side, Conner Leon, Camden Mansanales, Elisha Wilson, Trystan Sanderson, Matt Johnson, Asher McFarland, Gunner Morris and Hunter Morris all finished in the top four of their respective weight classes to qualify for the regional championship. Carson Cook placed fifth in the 215-pound weight class, earning an alternate nod as well.
It was a strong showing for a Panthers team that dealt with several key injuries this season and worked hard through the adversity this season.
“We’ve been really banged up this season and that hurt us a bit, but they came out and competed well,” DeLaVergne said. “I thought we’d be able to come out and compete with Lovejoy and possibly finish second, but Melissa was really good and competed at a high level. I wouldn’t be surprised if those two teams are the top two in regionals as well and we competed.”
The Panthers finished third in District 9-5A with 133 points, trailing only Melissa (188.5 points) and district champion Lovejoy (292.5 points) for the championship. The boys also head to Anna this weekend for the Region 3-5A championship, where coach DeLaVergne hopes they can compete among the best again.
“We’ve been training for it all year long,” DeLaVergne said. “We’ve tried to develop situational wrestling skills so that we can win at the regional and state level because there are some moves that won’t work against the best. It’s all training for those best moments all year, where it helped two of our kids win in overtime.”
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