Two Rocket wrestlers qualify for state tournament

Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Photo by Anthony S. Puca From left, Forrest assistant coach Andy Karpinski, Spencer McGuiggan, Cage Hargrove, and head coach Josh Roberson are all smiles after McGuiggan finished third and Hargrove ended up fourth at the Region 5 Tournament, earning the Rocket grapplers a berth in the Division I State Wrestling Tournament in Franklin, beginning on Thursday.

Forrest wrestlers Cage Hargrove and Spencer McGuiggan endured a long, grueling Region 5 Tournament in McMinnville over the weekend to earn a berth in the TSAA Division I State Tournament, beginning at 3 p.m. on Thursday at the Williamson County Agricultural Exposition Arena in Franklin.

Forrest head coach Josh Roberson said about the team's region tournament performance and the two qualifiers, "The region tournament went well overall, I wish we had a couple more to make that final match to go to state. But, to have the first two in five years to go is nice to finally have somebody going back and I am proud of both of these guys for putting the time and effort in to making it, and I proud of all the others for their effort."

Hargrove and McGuiggan became the first Forrest wrestlers to qualify for the state tournament since Morgan Abrigo made consecutive appearances in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

"I knew all my guys had a shot," Roberson. "These two I expected to be there, I expected a couple more, but these two weren't surprises if they wrestle the way I knew they could."

McGuiggan (220 pound weight class) took home third place in the region matches at Warren County High School, beginning with back-to-back pins over Chad McCarver (Oakland) and Ryan Dakhil from Mt.Juliet before suffering his first loss on a pin by John Kramer from Wilson Central, who would go to win the weight class.

"It was a good week I guess. I finished third, but made some mistakes against the first seed I don't like making, but I will just keep working to get better," said McGuiggan.

McGuiggan stormed back, pinning Eli Campbell (Cookeville) and in a re-match with Dakhil, McGuiggan prevailed with a pin to punch his ticket to Franklin.

"My focus has to be better, because in the post-season, you have to wrestle to keep wrestling," said McGuiggan. "I feel pretty good going in, I made it to state and I am one of 32 in my weight class to go."

Hargrove (113 pound weight class) won his first match over Bryce Triplett (Tullahoma), but lost to eventual champion Alec Myers from Blackmon in round two.

The Forrest grappler ripped off three straight wins over Michael Tinsley (Cookeville), Caleb Garrett (Oakland), and Ellis Dodson from Eagleville to finish fourth, joining his teammate at the big dance.

"It feels pretty good, we put in a lot of hard work this year, so it feels good to actually get something right for once," said Hargrove. "I am going to keep practicing the same way and do the same things I have been doing all year."

Hargrove will wrestle early, taking the mat in Match 17 in Thursday's opening round, pitted against last year's third-place finisher Austin Stevison (Cleveland) in the round of 32.

"He's pretty high up in state, I just know he is good," Hargrove said about his opponent. "I don't know what will happen, but hopefully I will win and we will see how it goes from there."

McGuiggan will have to endure a long wait, taking on Sevier County's Tyler Allen in Match 194.

Round 3 and the consolation matches will resume on Friday with the semi-finals and finals on Saturday.

The two grapplers will practice versus some local wrestlers before Thursday's opening round and Roberson said about the preparation, "I have to just keep them mentally ready to wrestle and focused and we are going to try to find somebody to help push them and keep them in the prime shape they are in now to get them ready for Thursday."