Medals of Honor: Schement second, Kubik third at state wrestling tourney
There was plenty of buzz surrounding the Class 5A State Wrestling Tournament, which began Feb. 21 and concluded Saturday at the Delco Center in Austin.
But in terms of Plano ISD interest, no one could compete with Luciana Schement.
Plano East's 119-pound girls grappler entered the tournament at 33-0 and advanced that record to 36-0 en route to the finals with wins over Austin Bowie's Stephanie Gautier (pinfall), Houston Clear Springs' Cassidy Jasperson (7-3) and Klein Collins' Ceara Wilkins (8-6).
"Obviously we are excited for all the other Plano wrestlers, but I think especially for [Schement]," said Shawn Smith, West head coach. "It was the first time Plano ISD ever had a girls wrestler in the state finals."
Unfortunately, Schement couldn't also count herself as the first PISD girls state champion as she dropped a 6-5 decision to The Woodlands' Lindsey Spjut in the finals.
"I got to see that match and [Schement] wrestled really well," said Jay Pryor, Plano Senior head coach. "It can be especially difficult for the girls to be prepared for this tournament because participation across the state is so sporadic, but obviously she was ready and dropped a really tough match."
Pryor could sympathize as his 182-pounder, Michael Kubik, had lost a similarly tight match to Grapevine's Blake Andrews, 5-3, in the semifinals.
"Michael wrestled his guts out at state," Pryor said. "Just like you figure a senior would."
Kubik and Andrews had also battled in the regional semis two weeks prior.
"This match played out pretty similar to the last one," Pryor said. "It was a tie match and then Andrew got the late takedown, which is usually the difference in a lot of matches at this level."
That was far from Kubik's only exhausting tilt during the tournament as he defeated El Paso Franklin's Anthony Camacho, 3-2, in an ultimate tiebreaker in the first round of the 16-person bracket. Kubik won the bout in the third overtime with an escape.
"A lot of people might think that first match isn't all that tough," Pryor said, "but at this level, they are all tough."
Kubik won a rematch with Camacho, this time 7-0, and additional matches versus League City Clear Falls' Austin Beale and Arlington Martin's Steven Candley to finish in third place with a 4-1 record.
"I expected Michael to come storming back from his loss and he did," Pryor said.
In addition to one of the most veteran grapplers at the tournament in Kubik, PISD had one of the youngest in Cole Williams, the 132- pounder who became the first freshman in West history to advance to state. Once in Austin, Williams had some difficulty as he was paired with Amarillo Tascosa's Josh Mora, the eventual state champion, in the first round. Williams was eliminated after losses to Mora and Clear Falls' Garrett Hill.
"Cole had a very tough draw," Smith said. "But just qualifying was a big achievement; I think being there will be a good experience for Cole and he could be a force to be reckoned with in the future."
Williams did significantly better as a freshman than teammate, and fellow state qualifier, Dean Roudi (145), who is now a senior.
"Dean didn't start wrestling until after football his freshman year and he won one match that season," Smith said. "We went out to eat after state this year and Dean had his very first match on his phone; we watched it and it was a lot of fun to see how far he had progressed."
Roudi lost to El Paso Eastwood's Devin Vasquez, another eventual state champion, in the quarterfinals, but was within one victory of a state placing after his second win of the bracket. Roudi and Klein's Jamie Strader were close late, but Strader pulled a reversal with 20 seconds remaining for the 6-3 victory that prevented Roudi from placing.
"It was a hard loss, especially when you are finishing the season like that," Smith said. "But I told Dean I was so proud of him because he had the deck stacked against him so many times and worked so hard to get to this point."
East was the other PISD team with dual representation at state.
In addition to Schement, Anthony Do (160) took the mat for the boys. Do scored a pinfall victory over Welasco's Matthew Torres in his first bout before subsequent back-to-back losses drove him from the tournament.
Saturday capped the season, but also left coaches ready to start the 2013-14 campaign.
"We had our fair share of difficulties this year," said first-year Wildcats coach Pryor, "but I think the future is definitely bright for our program."