AUSTIN — Monterey senior Wes Benton, Estacado junior Joseph Rios and Lubbock High sophomore Daxx Medina can’t win state titles, but the alternative’s not bad either.
All three Lubbock ISD athletes advanced to third-place matches today at the Class 4A UIL state wrestling championships. Benton, Rios and Medina each won their first two matches, lost a winners’ bracket semifinal and won an elimination-bracket semifinal in the first two days of action.
“I’m feeling pretty strong,” Benton said after posting a 5-4 win Friday over Luke Hodsden from Dripping Springs. “I’ve had a good tournament for myself, but I’m not quite satisfied. I still have some hunger that I need to keep going.”
Benton will face Lancaster’s Aaron Guery today for third place in the 160-pound division. Rios meets Sean Roche from Frisco Wakeland for third place at 138, and Medina will square off with Stephen Dieb from Highland Park for third at 126.
Medina won a USA Wrestling state title last weekend in Garland, competing for the Hub City Wrestling club team.
“He’s been on a roll the last three weeks,” Lubbock High coach Bryan Thomas said. “This is his first UIL (state) competition. He’s done very, very, very well.”
Benton finished third in regional, but in the first two days he knocked off the Region II runnerup and the Region III champion.
“He’s definitely wrestled some quality opponents, and he’s stepped up his game to wrestle at a level it takes to beat really good opponents across the state,” Monterey coach Steve Gonzalez said.
Benton’s shot at a state title ended with a 7-3 loss in the winners’ bracket semifinals to Leander’s Chris Giddens, who ran his record to 30-0. Still, it’s a big step up for Benton (25-4), who went 0-2 at state last year.
Benton said just having been to state once before “helps a great deal.”
“It makes you relax a little bit,” he said, “and be able to wrestle each match like you have all season, not let it get into your head very much.”
Each weight class at state has a 16-athlete, double-elimination bracket. The top six in each earn all-state recognition.
Estacado junior Kim Castillo finished one win short of making all-state, going 2-2 and bowing out in the final eight at 148. Castillo’s the first Estacado girl to win a match at state since the Lady Matadors’ program started five years ago.
Medina (16-4) took down Region II champion Sam Forbes from Frisco Wakeland in the second round and, in his last match Friday, advanced to the third-place match with a 6-4 win over Lawrence Romero from regional rival Caprock.
“We’ve been chasing Caprock all year,” Thomas said. “They’re kind of our cream of the crop in the Panhandle.”
Rios’ shot at a state title ended with a 6-4 loss to Frisco’s Chris Williams-Bizor in the winners’ bracket semifinal. He bounced back to pin Frisco Centennial’s Roman Rose 2 minutes, 54 seconds into the match.
Lubbock ISD had nine wrestlers qualify for state, and six won at least one match. Monterey senior Joseph Marin went 1-2 at 113 pounds, and Lubbock High senior Jordan Davila went 1-2 at 182.