By Jason Chlapek
Killeen Daily Herald
After dropping a 13-8 decision to Bryan's Evan Wise, Killeen wrestler DeMorris Turner thought he had no shot at advancing out of the District 25 meet on Saturday – even if he won third place.
"I was just focused on ending the year on a good note," Turner said. "I knew (Wise) wasn't that much better than me, so after that I vowed not to lose."
Turner won the next match via pinfall, and while checking the 180-pound weight class bracket to see whom he would face in the consolation semifinal round, Turner learned that if he won his next match, and the one after that, he could challenge the loser of the championship match for a wrestleback to see who would advance to the Region IV meet. Not only did Turner win his consolation semifinal match, he got revenge against Wise by pinning him in the third-place match before earning a wrestleback against Ellison's Gregory Harrison.
Turner, confident having already beaten Harrison, put on an encore performance by pinning the opposition to claim a berth into this weekend's Region IV meet at Blossom Athletic Center in San Antonio.
Turner is the only Killeen male wrestler who qualified for the region meet, but he will be joined by a quartet of Ellison Eagles – Darius Branch, Adrian Cruz, Omar Mickens and Jose Reyes – along with five Shoemaker Grey Wolves – James Blackman, Dion Everett, Josh Mains, Jonathan Player and Dabby Quiles. Tylor Bigley of Harker Heights and Dustin Lowrance of Copperas Cove will also compete.
The region meet starts today and concludes on Saturday. The top four advance to the state meet, which will take place Feb. 27-28, in Austin.
In addition to wrestling, Turner also participates in football and track and field as does Player, who won his second 275-pound class district championship in a row on Saturday with an 8-5 victory over Kendall Gilbert of Bryan. Player started on the offensive line for Shoemaker, and earned a scholarship to Trinity Valley Community College this fall.
"I got into wrestling last season because I wanted to do something fun that would also help me get in shape for football," Player said, adding he hopes to do well this weekend. "Everyone I face this weekend is someone who is standing in between me and the state meet. I have to wrestle with heart and go hard for six minutes."
After coming up shy of the region meet his first three years, Mickens finally broke through on Saturday as he claimed the district championship in the 145-pound class with a points victory against Garrett Goodman of A&M Consolidated.
"I've been working for this (region meet) for a long time," Mickens said. "Now that I made it to regionals, I hope to get to state. This is my senior year, which means it's my last chance to aim for state."
Mickens was one of three Eagles to claim a district championship. Reyes and Branch won the 119- and 152-pound classes, respectively.
Although just a sophomore and in his first year as a Knight, Bigley (135-pound class) is already in his fourth year in the sport. That's because he started wrestling in seventh grade while residing in Canon City, Colo.
Bigley isn't a stranger to Texas. In fact, he spent the first 12 years of his life in Bryan.
"There's a lot more strength in Texas, and the wrestlers tend to be more physical," he said. "Colorado is more about speed and technique."
Lowrance earned the district championship in the 140-pound by taking down Jorge Aguilar of Bryan, who actually beat Lowrance earlier in the season. Lowrance handed Aguilar just his second loss of the season.
"Dustin's a smart wrestler," Cove wrestling coach Jeremy Shannon said. "He learns quickly and he gets a good feel for where he is and his opponent is."