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Drive for five: Now playing host, Allen seeks another dual state championship
Allen wrestling has traveled to Oklahoma, Missouri and California this season.
On Saturday, the Eagles won't have to travel far at all in an attempt to win yet another state title as the team hosts the 2013 Texas High School Wrestling Coaches Association Dual State Tournament.
Allen, the three-time defending UIL state champions, have won four straight dual state tournaments.
"The dual state tournament is about how balanced you are from 106 (pounds) up to heavyweight," said Jerry Best, Allen head coach. "You get to coach every kid and you need contributions from every one of your guys."
Allen won its first state title by beating Canyon Randall in the 2009 dual state finals.
"Every tournament is important to us, but this one is really special because it is where we won our first state championship," Best said. "So we're excited to have it here for those reasons, but also because it helps get the name of our program, our town and our school out there."
The tourney rotates to a new region every two years with the most recent events taking place in Amarillo, College Station and Cedar Park respectively.
With the event moving to Allen's region, the Eagles were quick to put in a bid.
"There were three or four schools that put in to host the event," Best said, "but I guess we had the best facilities."
Allen has previously hosted the UIL regional tournament six times.
"It's always exciting when you can host a tournament of this caliber," Best said, "and we're hoping to bring out a good crowd."
The home fans should have plenty to cheer about as Allen will be a prohibitive favorite among a 15-team field that also includes: Flower Mound, Arlington Martin, Lake Highlands, El Paso Franklin, El Paso Hanks, El Paso Del Valle, Dumas, Cy Woods, Clear Falls, Klein, Austin Westlake, San Antonio Churchill, Cedar Park Vista Ridge and Katy Morton Ranch.
Best listed Flower Mound (which Allen has defeated in the last two dual state finals), Martin, Franklin and Lake Highlands as its chief competitors.
"There will be a lot of good teams there," he said. "But we're hoping to have our full lineup and when we have that, we're pretty tough to beat."
That was evident in November and December as Allen compiled top 10 finishes at tournaments in Oklahoma, Missouri and California despite being without former individual state champions Oliver Pierce, Nick Cobb and Stone Drulman, all of whom were part of the Eagles march to a Class 5A Division I State Football Championship.
Being shorthanded and in a string of tough competitions, Allen (ranked No. 12 nationally) didn't win its first event until hosting the Texas Outlaw Tournament Jan. 2-3.
Allen's 355.5 points far outpaced second-place Flower Mound (225).
"That event really helped the kids see where we stack up against other top teams in Texas," Best said. "And that's where all our other tournaments really appeared to pay off; these kids have been in battles everywhere they've gone and that helped them go over some pretty tough guys at our tournament."
Allen had eight champions, two runner-ups, three thirds and one seventh.
Leading the weight division winners was Bo Nickal (160), who registered five pins and was named Most Outstanding Wrestler for the upper weight class. The other Eagles to win gold medals were Gabe Torres (113), Mason Smout (120), John McCabe (132), Daniel Cartagena (138), Matt Meyer (182), Drulman (220) and Garrett Esparza (heavyweight). Esparza had wrestled at 220 all season, but moved up to facilitate the return of Drulman.
Drulman was injured at the event, but Best is hopeful he'll be ready when dual state begins Saturday. The Allen head coach also expects Cobb and Pierce to wrestle at state.
Admission to Saturday's event is $7 for adults and $5 for students with pool matches beginning at 9 a.m. The top team from each pool will advance to the semifinals, which are set to begin at 3 p.m. with the finals slated for 5 p.m.
There will be an awards presentation at 7 p.m.
"This should be a great event for team building and camaraderie," Best said. "And we'll find out who the team leaders truly are."