90° F Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The three Westlake wrestlers representing the Chaps at the state meet all picked up at least a win at the tournament, but could not advance on to Saturday’s championship bouts.

Freshman Hunter Roberts and sophomore Alex Pankhurst both went 2-1 on Day 1 of the UIL Wrestling State Championships at the Delco Center Feb. 21 to move on another day.

On Friday, both Pankhurst and Roberts lost their first match of the day to eliminate them from the competition.

“They’re disappointed, of course, but both knew they left it all out there,” Westlake coach Pat O’Harra said. “They just didn’t win … It’ll drive them to work hard, and I’ll surely remind them of it when they need to be motivated. There were not any matches we lost that we felt we should have won. And we won a few we were not expected to win, so you’ve gotta be happy when that happens.”

Junior Ryan Elswick, battling an injured arm, went 1-2 on Feb.21 to end his season. He lost to Dylan Akers in the first round – the eventual state champion – but bounced back for a win over Matthew Figueroa. A loss to Dylanger Potter kept him from Friday’s round, though.

“When he’s able to sit back and look at it – he’s been battling u hill all year long,” O’Harra said. “To make it the point, he made it to is impressive.”

Roberts beat Brian Quiroz in the 106-pound bracket Feb. 21 but lost to Gabe Torres in the next round. He then picked up a win over Nick Barker, ranked fourth in the state, but ultimately lost to Frankie Garza Friday in an eliminating defeat.

“Hunter wrestled such a great, great match [against Barker],” O’Harra said. “It was probably his best takedown all year, a beautiful leg attack. He’s got a tremendous arsenal if he would open it up and use it more. That was definitely a big upset and put him in position to try to place.”

Pankhurst lost in his first match Feb. 21 to Masahiro Ward, but wins over Malik Pickett and Tolliver kept his competition going. A narrow loss, 4-3, to Dylan Tolliver Friday ended things for Pankhurst.

“Alex was just not himself in that first match,” O’Harra said. “To make it second day and come within one match of placing, that’s huge for next year. They’ve gone through it and know what to expect now.”

The team’s future looks incredibly bright with all three state qualifiers returning next season. The team will lose seniors Mack Murray and Brent Davis, but that’s really it from the starting lineup.

“We’ve got virtually the whole team coming back,” O’Harra said. “That’s gonna be really exciting. It’s an opportunity to win regionals and to get higher up in team standings [at state] is definitely a real possibility. We’ve got a lot of good guys pushing each other. They all worked hard, and I was proud of them.”

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