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The season is still young, but three teams have flipped Region 2 upside down.
Central Hardin, John Hardin and North Hardin appear to be the top squads in the region, while perennial power LaRue County has been hampered by injuries and gotten off to an uncharacteristically slow start.
The Trojans (second), Bruins (third) and Bulldogs (fifth) each finished in the top five at last weekend’s King of the Bluegrass, while the Hawks only had six wrestlers available and placed 12th at the Ryle Raider Rumble.
“They have both had a great start,” Central Hardin coach Russ Pike said of John Hardin and North Hardin. “Those kids aren’t going to back down from anybody, which is what I expect from Coach (Mike) Mitchell and Coach (Joe) Burroughs. They teach their kids to get out there and wrestle hard, and that’s what those kids have done.”
“I would say they’re the teams to beat right now,” he added. “After Christmas, we’re going to drop some kids in some weight classes. I think we’re going to be pretty solid, but we can’t take anything for granted or think anyone is going to roll over for us. We’ve got to act like we’re the team to beat, like everybody is gunning for us. We’ve got to do everything we can to win matches.”
The Hardin County trio hopes to continue its solid start and LaRue County will look to pick up the intensity during Saturday’s Bruin Duals. Wrestling begins at 9:30 a.m. at Bruin Gym.
Joining those teams are Meade County (two squads), Barren County, Lexington Lafayette, Scott County and first-year program Taylor County.
Every team but LaRue County and Meade County B will wrestle five times. The Hawks and Green Wave received a bye in the final round.
“We’ve got to get some region duals in so we can get the region (tournament) seeding on its way,” Pike said. “I would like to have some more out-of-the-area teams, but it is what it is. I think we’ve got a good set of teams and we’re going to have some good competition Saturday.
“I think our region is pretty tough this year,” he added. “There should be some interesting matchups Saturday, and it’ll be a good to come out and watch some wrestling.”
The action gets started off with a bang as the last two region champions – LaRue County and John Hardin – meet in the first round. Other first-round matchups are Central Hardin vs. Barren County, North Hardin vs. Lafayette, Meade County vs. Scott County and Taylor County vs. Meade County B.
Central Hardin faces Lafayette in the second round, John Hardin in the third, LaRue County in the fourth and Taylor County in the fourth. The Hawks also face Scott County and Barren County.
John Hardin takes on Meade County B in the second round, Barren County in the fourth and Lafayette in the fifth. North Hardin meets Taylor County, Scott County, Meade County B and Meade County, while the Green Wave face Barren County, Taylor County and Lafayette.
One wrestler to watch is John Hardin 182-pound senior Wade Holtsclaw. He won the KOB last weekend and hasn’t lost a match this season.
“Wade is a workhorse,” Pike said. “He’s not in wrestling shape yet, so it’s going to be scary to see him once he does get in shape. He’s a tough kid and he’s a good kid and a tough competitor. He’s hard to beat now. I can’t imagine what it’ll be like when he’s actually in wrestling shape. He’s going to be a really tough out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win State this year.”
In other action Saturday, Fort Knox will compete in the Rumble in the Hive at Louisville Central.
Josh Claywell can be reached at (270) 505-1752 or email@example.com.