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February 11, 2014

Demon wrestlers focused on regional tourney

DUNCAN — The Duncan wrestlers have two weeks to prepare for regionals.

Those preparations started with running sessions in the mornings before school, which the wrestlers plan to continue until three days before the regional meet Feb. 21-22 in Del City.

Demon senior Jett Gray said intensity has picked up in practice.

“We’re giving it everything we got in practice,” he said. “We have turned it up a lot.”

Additional preparation will include correcting a few mistakes, said Demon coach Kevin Kelly.

“We’ve got to find ways to win those one- and two-point matches late in the year,” he said.

Some of those elements are finishing shots and getting to one’s feet when trapped on the bottom, Kelly said.

“Against the really good kids, if we do those things just a little bit, we’re going to win a lot more matches,” he said.

What has helped is the leadership of Gray and the rest of the seniors, said sophomore Jimmy Mejia.

“They tell us to work hard and keep at it,” he said. “They won’t let us quit.”

One of the Demons’ goals this season was to reach the dual state meet, but a dual loss to Western Heights meant Duncan did not qualify. But the loss may have made the wrestlers more focused in later matches and in their preparation for regionals.

“A few of those matches we lost to not qualify for dual state, we have beaten those kids again,” said Kelly, referring to tournament matches. “It helped us focus not just on dual state, but on regionals and the guys we need to beat.”

But although it was disappointing not to qualify for dual state, Gray said the extra week to focus on regionals will help.

“Dual state is important, but it does not matter as much as regionals,” he said. “Regionals and state, that is the ultimate goal. Those are the matches that determine whether you get to wrestle another week.”

The regional pairings will be announced later this week. Kelly expects some tough matchups.

“Some of our kids will have to wrestle really well just to qualify for state,” he said. “There are some weights in which the top four in our regional are the top four in the state.

“I told the kids we will have a lot of tough, really close matches, where if we win them, we’ll qualify (for state), and if we don’t, we won’t go.”

Gray said his weight class, 126 pounds, may be the toughest it has been in his four years. But facing tough competition is a good thing, he said.

“You want to go in, knowing you are wrestling good kids,” he said.

Mejia said he expects the team to have a good showing against tough competition.

“I think we’ll have some pretty good matches,” he said.

Most of all, each Duncan wrestler competing in regionals expects to qualify for state.

“We’re looking really good going into regionals,” Gray said. “Everyone is putting in the work to make it happen.”

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