It’s not very often that athletes have the opportunity to make school history, but that’s just what junior Debra Moore and sophomore Kajierra “K.J.” Harris have a chance to do at Killeen High.
Moore and Harris will go for the gold this weekend and try to become the first Killeen state champions at the University Interscholastic League’s State Tournament.
“I’m excited because I feel like this year I could do better than I did last year,” Moore said.
Moore is making a return trip to the state tournament after qualifying as a sophomore last year.
“I’m just excited. I’m never nervous,” Harris said.
The girls Class 5A competition begins at 7:30 a.m. today at the Garland ISD Curtis Culwell Center while the boys 5A first round kicks off at 10:30 a.m.
Moore will compete in the girls 215-pound division and Harris will wrestle in the boys 285-pound division.
Killeen wrestling head coach David Gaskamp said the pair is among the best the school has ever seen.
“Any time you go to state, you’re one of the top because getting to state is quite an accomplishment,” Gaskamp said.
Moore started wrestling last season. Moore said last season’s meet was new territory and she had a difficult time settling into
“I didn’t even expect it,” Moore said. “Once I got third at regionals, I was just happy.”
Moore lost her opening round match to Conroe’s Rebecka Winton, but went 1-1 in the consolation bracket.
She opens the 2014 state tournament against De’Onna Byrd of Arlington Houston.
“My first year of wrestling, I went to state so I expect to go every year and actually place,” Moore said.
Moore looks to become the fifth girls state champion from a Killeen Independent School District school.
Shoemaker’s Emarald Solomon was the last state champion after taking gold in the 215-pound division in nine years ago. Ellison’s Angela Whitley (165-pound) and Kisha Wilson (185-pound) became the city’s first titlists in 2002 while Lakeshia Wilson (185-pound) gave the Lady Eagles another state title a year later.
Harris fell in love with the sport after giving it a try last season because his friends told him about the team. “It’s physical, you take your anger out,” Harris said. “It’s a competition, so you can win.”
As a freshman, Harris had a premature end to his season when he dislocated a kneecap one step before state.
“I was so close to making it,” Harris said. “I had my opponent, then I got hurt.”
Harris also is a lineman on the Roos football team and throws the shot put and discus for the track team.
Last year’s injury cost him the first three weeks of the track season, but he said it gave him a new appreciation for his talent and ability to compete in sports.
“When I got better, I was ready to exercise,” Harris said. “When I was hurt, I was just sitting in the bed feeling sorry. After that, when the time came, I was back up.”
Harris begins the state tournament against Lewisville Hebron’s Jerhett Lee.