El Dorado News-Times
El Dorado set for state wrestling meet
El Dorado’s contingent of nine wrestlers will begin what they hope will be a lengthy stay today in the Arkansas State Wrestling Tournament.
The first two rounds of the tournament will be held at Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock on Friday starting at 9 a.m. with the championship matches set to be held on Saturday.
El Dorado had five boys qualify for the state meet with Dunte Maker entering as the No. 1 seed in the 215-pound weight class.
The Wildcats have a trio of wrestlers that earned No. 3 seeds with Shaun Shults at 150, Aidan Johnson at 157 and Evan Criss at 165. Jack Pagan, a freshman, will be the No. 4 seed at 113.
“I thought they competed well,” El Dorado coach Wes Ables said of the boys team’s performance in last weekend’s regional meet. “We had five guys qualify for state and only two of those were a top-four seed, so we had some guys exceed expectations.”
On the girls side, EHS has three No. 2 seeds with Maddie Aguiluz at 100, Katelyn Hayden at 125 and Sharnesia Tate at 235. Amy Jacobs is a No. 3 seed at 110.
“They’ve been going well,” Ables said of the practices leading up to the state meet. “Last week was kind of like an off week for them to rest and recover from their regional tournament. The conference we’re matched up with in the state tournament has some really good competition there, so our girls will need to have a really good week of practice to prepare for that.”
Although EHS will have five boys competing, Ables said the majority of them will be underdogs.
“Those will be a really tough matchup,” Ables said. “The north has got some really good teams in it like Searcy, Van Buren and Mountain Home and all of those schools. There’s some really good wrestlers in that conference. Those guys will probably be underdogs in
all of their matches besides Dunte, and sometimes being an underdog isn't a bad thing. There's no pressure on you. I think those guys will be loose and leave it all on the mat.”
Maker, who has signed with Ouachita Baptist, is slated to take on Mountain Home's Noah Lagg in the first round.
Should Maker be successful in reaching the championship match, he could have a rematch with Van Buren's Grant King, who topped Maker last year to win the 5A state title at 195.
King enters the state meet with a record of 35-2 this year.
“This year there's a new format,” Ables said. “There's only seven other kids he's competing against for the state championship because they take four from our conference and four from the other conference. He would have those two rounds to get to the championship.”
El Dorado enters the state meet without having seen much of the competition from the northern part of the state, and Ables said he is looking forward to seeing how everything plays out.
“We don't see those northern teams,” Ables said. “Some of our other conference members face off against those teams being in central Arkansas, but we don't necessarily see those guys or girls. It's going to be interesting on the matchups and how we match up with those other conferences.”