By Morgan Lietz--Eagle Staff Writer
Tensions were high according to several members of the wrestling team. It was the 6A regional tournament, Feb. 14.
Only the top two would wrestle at states. Seniors Landon Church, Owen Donald, and Shane Shepard wrestled countless matches, slowly working their way to the top.
Church wrestled all his matches, undefeated, and took home first place. He had never qualified for states before, but he had gone as an alternate.
Church pinned his first opponent in the first round in his first match, but according to bystanders, the second match was nowhere near as easy. The entire team crowded around the mat to watch Church. Coach David Ferguson sat in a chair on the corner of the mat, leaning far in. Everyone looked as if they were filled with dire anticipation and excitement.
Church explained later how he fought with everything in him. He was up by three toward the end of the third period. The buzzer rang, and the entire team screamed and shouted words of encouragement.
"It was so surreal," said teammate Alex Baumberger. "He has worked so incredibly hard to get to where he's at, and it's paying off."
Church had won his match 5-2 and was going to the states for the first time.
Donald pinned his opponent in the first match and was pinned in his second. His teammates say they were shocked by him taking home second place.
"This was only his second year wrestling and he made it to states, that's one heck of an accomplishment," explained coach Stacy Menefee. "I am so proud of him; he has worked incredibly hard for this."
Shepard is a beast according to teammates. He has been wrestling since he was 11 years old, is a senior varsity team captain and a 3-time state qualifier.
Teammates claim he works tirelessly every day, training and preparing to become a state champion. Teammates agree that he is an inspiration and a great motivator. This tournament was huge for Shepard, as this was his last chance to be a state champion.
Shepard came prepared, as he had gone to every practice and even attended separate college practices on his own accord.
"I need to be the best I can be," he explained.
Shepard wrestled two matches, winning one and losing the other. He came in second place and qualified for states.
At states, Church garnered Second-Place honors and Shepard had a sixth-place showing.