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Simply the best: Allen wrestling stamps its name into record books

Posted by Christina Redlin on March 1, 2013 at 10:35 AM

BY Kevin Hageland, [email protected]

Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 9:51 PM CST

Allen didn't just win the Class 5A State Wrestling Meet, the Eagles captured their fourth straight UIL title by dominating in every way possible.

Allen left the Delco Center in Austin Saturday with a new state record for points (251.5); a total that more than tripled second place El Paso Franklin (79) and was higher than the next three challengers (Franklin, Flower Mound, Arlington Martin) combined. The boys also set records for most placers (11), most finalists (seven) and most champions (six). The Eagles became the first team to win both the girls (Vanessa Smith) and boys (Nick Cobb) Most Outstanding Wrestler as well as the first team to have a brother and sister (Howard and Vanessa Smith) in the state finals in the same year.

"We wanted to show Texas this is the best team that has ever been put on the mat in this state," said Jerry Best, Allen head coach. "And we did."

The seeds of this accomplishment were planted before the season began.

"We knew coming into the year that this was a special team," Best said.

But did the wrestlers anticipate becoming the best team in state history?

"Well, I'm not coming back next year and I don't have to worry about sounding cocky," Cobb said, "so yeah, I did think we could do it."

"We've been to state a few times," said Oliver Pierce, Allen 152-pounder, "but this one was truly special because we were so dominant and set so many records. It finally all clicked."

The event, which ran Feb. 21 through Saturday, was no doubt special to Cobb and Pierce as they were two of the seven Allen grapplers (Daniel Cartagena, Bo Nickal, Matt Meyer, Stone Drulman, Vanessa Smith) to win individual state crowns. Cobb's championship (195) was particularly notable as he became the second grappler in UIL history (Amarillo Tascosa's Nick Herrmann) to win four state titles.

"That is a huge accomplishment," Best said. "There is so much pressure on you when you are going for a fourth and it's something that is on your mind day in and day out."

Cobb, who was named MOW, admitted as much.

"There are a lot of feelings that go through your mind at the end," he said, "but the main one was relief."

Cobb's toughest bout came in the semis as he defeated Flower Mound Marcus' Brandon Litten, 2-1, in double overtime.

"Once it went into overtime, I knew the match was mine," Cobb said.

The Texas A&M walk-on commit for football escaped in the second overtime and prevented Litten from doing the same for the victory. Cobb would wrap up his fourth state championship with a 5-2 victory over Rockwall's Daniel Roland.

"When I got that last win, it just ... it felt great," Cobb said.

Cobb's first state title came in 2010. Allen's only other freshman to win their weight class that year was Pierce. The Oklahoma signee had placed at state each year since, but Pierce (152) finally broke through with a second individual championship Saturday.

"I guess I finally got that monkey off my back," Pierce said.

Pierce pinned Arlington Bowie's Rafay Ali in the finals in 50 seconds.

"I was pretty confident going into the finals," Pierce said. "I knew I'd be able to win and executed my strategy."

Nickal (160) and Meyer (182) also won their second state titles. The former scored an 11-second pinfall in the semifinals and defeated Flower Mound's Drake Dudley, 3-1, in the finals while the latter, a North Carolina signee, scored a 5-1 decision over Grapevine's Blake Andrews in his championship bout.

Rounding out the state-winning slate for the boys were first-timers Cartagena (138) and Drulman (220).

Cartagena may have had the most dramatic match of the finals as he was tied with Klein's Michael Oramas, 4-4, late in the third before scoring a takedown with 10 seconds remaining for the 6-4 win.

"That shows what Daniel is all about," Best said. "And that he has that extra gear."

Cartagena is a sophomore, so he will have an opportunity to defend his title, while Saturday was the end for Drulman, who had already placed at state multiple times. And he finished in style with a third-period pinfall on Houston Cypress Creek's Isaac Johnson.

"Stone had a tough year with torn ligaments in his finger and breaking his nose in his first finals," Best said, "so it was great to see him finish as a champion."

The titles extended to the girls side as well.

There, Vanessa Smith (95) retained her unblemished record as the Wayland Baptist signee pinned all four opponents to secure a trip to the top of the podium and MOW.

"Vanessa wrestled great," Best said. "She was dominant."

Allen had five other placers: Howard Smith (106, runner-up); Gabe Torres (113, fourth); A.J. Hinkle (145, third); Tracey Eitel (170, fourth); Garrett Esparza (285, third). Mason Smout (120) and John McCabe (132) were also part of an Eagles squad that won its fourth straight team title and now owns nine of the last 10 UIL or Dual State Championships.

"All the guys did a great job," Cobb said. "It is truly an honor to be part of a team like this."

Cobb is one of six graduating Allen starters.

"We gave the guys two days off," Best said. "But now it's time to get back in there for lifting and conditioning, so we can reload for next year."

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