February 10 the Ripley Vikings wrestled at regionals, individually paving their way to states. Wrestlers had to place in the top four to advance to the state tournament at the Big Sandy Arena in Huntington. The tournament takes place February 22-24.
Seven of the Vikings team qualified for states: freshman Nate Cox at 106 lbs., freshman Luke Miller at 113 lbs., junior Ethan Koontz at 120 lbs., junior Evan King at 132 lbs., senior Hunter Burdette at 145 lbs., senior Jacob Starkey at 170 lbs., and senior B.J. Haynes at 220 lbs. In this tournament, there will be eight rounds per weight class spread out over the period of three days.
Four of these Vikings have been to States before: King came just inches away from placing in his first year ever wrestling; Burdette has gone all four years placing 2nd, 3rd, and 6th; Starkey placed 3rd twice and 4th once; and Haynes also qualified all four years, placing 6th last year. However, for others this will be their first appearance at the tournament including Cox and Miller.
“It feels great to make it to states. I have been going to the high school state tournament since I was tiny and I would dream of wrestling there. Now that I am here, I am glad that my hard work is starting to pay off,” Miller said.
These wrestlers have spent the last six months training and preparing for this upcoming weekend. It all comes down to this final moment.
Senior Hunter Burdette said, “It would mean a lot doing well at states, with this being my last year it would mean that much more. Everyone wants to go out with a bang.”
With three of the seven wrestlers being seniors, this tournament will be important for the building of the program for the coming years, ensuring Viking Wrestling stays a name to remember.