Grappling their way to top finishes at state

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  • The Redhawk wrestlers pose for a picture alongside their coaches at the UIL State Championship on Friday and Saturday.

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  • Senior Savannah West hugs head coach Cody Bridwell, as assistant coach Justin Koons looks on, after winning the final match locking in the state title. Losing in last year's state finals, West's victory was years in the making.

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  • Senior Diego Lorenso squares up against his opponent at the State meet on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019.

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  • Senior Ashley Cook shakes hands with her opponent at the UIL State Championship on Friday and Saturday at Berry Center placing second in her weight class.

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  • Senior Precious Essien dominates against his opponent on Friday and Saturday placing 3rd.

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  • The crowd cheers on the high schoolers as they compete for the state title on Friday and Saturday.

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  • Taking her place atop the podium, senior Savannah West gets the big screen treatment at the Berry Center in Cypress.

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  • With the Redhawks on the verge of getting a pin, assistant wrestling coach Justin Koons shouts out instructions from the side during the 2019 UIL State Wrestling Tournament in Cypress.

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  • With 10 wrestlers qualifying for the state tournament, head coach Cody Bridwell, along with assistants Justin Koons, and Tim Brennan (standing) were constantly moving from mat to mat as the Redhawks competed throughout the two day state tournament. With senior Savannah West winning a state title, the girls' team finished in 2nd with the boys' team taking 6th.

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  • With senior Ashley Cook in the center of the mat during a state tournament match, assistant wrestling coach Justin Koons looks on. Cook would finish in 2nd place, with the girls' team also finishing in 2nd.

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With hands held up in victory and sweat dripping from their forehead, Redhawk wrestlers stood under the spotlight on Friday and Saturday at the UIL State Wrestling Championships at Berry Center in Cypress, as the girls’ team finished in 2nd place while the boys’ team brought home a 6th place finish. 

Winning four straight matches at the state tournament, senior Savannah West claimed the championship title in the 110 lbs. division in what was her last tournament of her high school career. This made it the cherry on top especially after last years’ shortcomings.

“I wanted to be a district place on my sophomore year and I wasn’t able to, and that fueled my fire to do better junior year,” West said. “I worked my butt off junior year, and that got me to the state finals, and losing again, lit a fire under my butt.  Eventually, got me to the state finals again. Now, I have a gold medal and everything, leading up to winning that title was worth it and everything happened for a reason, and I’m so grateful for all of it.”

Launching herself into hugs from her family and coaches, West took pride in defeating her previous state champion opponent in her final match.

“I did not want to walk away with another silver medal,” West said. “I decided that I wasn’t going to, I decided I was going to win, and I worked really hard in that match. To be able to have my hand raised at the end of it was so amazing. I went up and hugged my mom and we both started crying.”

On the boys’ side, seniors Precious Essien and Diego Lorenso fell just short of bring home gold medals, with each wrestler losing in the finals by two points.

“I thought the boys’ did a really great job so did the girls’,” Lorenso said via text.  “As far as I go I’m really proud of myself for getting second in the state after wrestling for only two years. I put in a lot of hours of work. This year of state was the most competitive the guys have ever seen but I’m proud of everyone for their hard work.”

Looking past the medals and awards, head coach Cody Bridwell reflects on the group as a whole.

“I will say this group out of any group I’ve ever been associated with in my 19 years of coaching, this has been the best in leadership, probably the highest level in wrestling that I’ve seen and just overall quality of people,” Bridwell said. “I don’t know if we’re going to have another group like this for a long, long time.”