For the first time since 2001, the Warren County High School wrestling team is in danger of being left out of the state tournament.
A string of 10 straight years having one Pioneer qualify for state was in jeopardy midway through Saturday as a young wrestling team had its share of struggles in the Region V tournament being held at Charlie Dalton Gym.
No Pioneer made it through Friday night still in the winner’s bracket, and by press time Saturday, only one wrestler had a shot of advancing through the consolation bracket to make it to the top four.
Nick Sangi was still one loss away from elimination as the afternoon matches began Saturday. Sangi had advanced to the final eight in the 220-pound division by winning an 8-5 decision against David Rangel from Smyrna early Saturday morning. His next match, and the finals of the weight class, were completed after press time.
Sangi won Friday night as well. The senior, first-year wrestler won in 58 seconds against Tanner Smith of Blackman in the 220-pound division. Sangi scored a pinfall victory, but lost in the second round of his next match.
Bailey Briest, wrestling at 132 pounds, won his first match Friday night against Steven Dycus of Lawrence County. In a back-and-forth contest, Briest gained a late advantage in points by escaping to his feet and then put an exclamation point on the match with a last-second takedown to score a 14-11 win by decision.
Briest lost his second match of the night, then dropped a decision Saturday morning to end his regional tournament run.
Joe Carroll advanced early in the 138-pound bracket Friday night with a forfeit victory, but lost his quarterfinal match to end the night. His only match Saturday was a 6-1 loss to also end his season.
Eight other Pioneers competed over the weekend in the state tournament, but Warren County lost one competitor before the event started and another after one match.
Ben Francis, one of the top wrestlers at 170 pounds, was forced to forfeit after illness kept him out Friday night.
Harlyi Turner, a 113-pound freshman, lost his first match Friday night and couldn’t compete Saturday due to a foot injury.
Ray Bishop, Neil Matheney, Tucker Slatton, Holden Nunley and Jacob Roper each lost their first match and went on to lose a second time in the consolation bracket.
Sangi and Francis are the lone seniors for the Pioneers and the team features no juniors. Coach Matt Turner was proud of the season his young team had and expects a bright future.