EHS sending three to state

By Ivan Sanders


   DANDRIDGE -- There's nothing like going from second best to number one. If you don't believe that, just ask Elizabethton grappler Josh Fair.
   Fair finally was able to put an end to being the Region I second-best wrestler to etching his name into the book as the Region I champ at Jefferson County High School on Saturday night.
   It wasn't as easy a match as Fair was hoping for. Roger Antoine of Science Hill had Fair on the edge of defeat leading 9-4 entering the final two-minute period.
   "I really had a rocky start," said Fair. "I knew I was in better shape and that Antoine normally starts getting a little sloppy in the third period."
   Fair quickly turned the match around like a Cadillac on a patch of ice. Fair evened the points at nine and then took advantage of some key opportunities to hold Antoine off until the time expired.
   "I can't wrestle at state like I did tonight," added Fair. "I am definitely going to be working hard Monday and Tuesday before we leave for state."
   Fair wasn't the only EHS grappler to qualify for the trip to Chattanooga next weekend.
   Daniel Sochalski placed second in the 103 class and Andy Ross notched a third-place showing in the 130 class.
   Sochalski had a bye all the way to the semi-finals, where he defeated Snapp of Science Hill. Sochalski had defeated the 'Topper wrestler two previous times this season.
   In the finals, Sochalski went into the championship match against Ryan McGrew of Daniel Boone. Sochalski was able to push McGrew to the third period, where McGrew finally was able to take the win.
   Said Sochalski: "It really feels good to qualify for state. I went into this match knowing I could give him a good match and even beat him. I didn't go in with that feeling in our past two matches. It feels great to represent EHS in the state meet."
   Another wrestler who will be entering the McKenzie Arena at UT-Chattanooga for competition will be Ross, who defeated Shawn Lowe of Morristown West to advance in the 130 class.
   "I am really excited to be making my first trip to state," stated Ross. "I am also excited about my teammates who have qualified as well."
   In other matches, Buddy Puckett turned some heads as the young man was able to battle into position to qualify for state.
   Puckett defeated Haynes of Jefferson County by pinfall at 1:42 to advance against Harshbarger of Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett. The winner would advance to the third-place tilt.
   It was not meant to be for Puckett as Harshbarger pinned Puckett with only seven seconds left in the first period. Puckett will be a force to reckon with next season as he improves at the 215 class.
   John Ross, brother to Andy, was another hard-luck loser as he forced his opponent into sudden death before being defeated.
   Patrick Jenkins also gave it a valiant effort before being eliminated from the tournament.
   "I think we did what I expected us to do," stated Cyclone head coach Bill Potter. "We are a very young team and this is a good learning experience for us."
   Potter also was pleased with the wrestlers who did not qualify for the state meet.
   "John and Patrick wrestled their behinds off against two very tough opponents," said Potter. "Buddy almost pulled of a surprise by sneaking in for a medal as well."
   The Cyclones will practice at home Monday and Tuesday before departing for Chattanooga on Wednesday. They will work out against other wrestlers from the region before beginning the state finals Thursday.