H.S. Wrestling | Union County Goes Back-To-Back At State

02/20/2017 03:30 PM

It’s safe to say that at Alltech Arena over the weekend, the biggest crowd was sporting Columbia blue and white.

“It makes it that much more fun because we have the biggest, loudest crowd here and we want to put on a show for them,” junior Saul Ervin explained.

His senior teammate, Bryce Sheffer agreed.

“It’s awesome because you look around and see all these big crowds but you look up and all you see is blue.”

“It sends chills down your back. You know, one of those things that you’ll never forget and you look up in the stands and everybody is cheering and rooting for you, you know, that’s what drives us and makes us succeed,” Chance Oxford added.

The Union County Braves wrapped up day one of the state wrestling tournament on Friday with a narrow lead. After a dominating performance on Saturday, they began to pull away, winning their second-straight state championship; their ninth overall. The guys said despite the close score, they knew that they had it in them.

“We were pretty confident coming in as a team,” Ervin explained. “We’ve been pretty dominant all year, we worked hard, we knew we were ready and I mean, of course at the state tournament you’re going to have nerves but we felt good overall.”

Bryce Sheffer wrapped up a successful career as a Brave, winning his fourth-straight title and finishing his senior year undefeated. But for Sheffer, seeing his teammates succeed was just as good as hearing his own named called.

“It’s great to come in here knowing that everybody is going to do good, but seeing those freshman guys and 8th graders come in and place high and make it on the podium, it’s great.”

Speaking of 8th graders, Zeke Escalera also finished his season undefeated en route to his first individual state title.

“It feels awesome to know I have four more years down there. It’s an unbelievable feeling, it’s great.”

“This team right here was a young team. We had three really strong senior leaders, but today we had to rely on a bunch of 8th and 9th graders and underclassmen to pull us through and they did. It was exciting,” Coach Robert Ervin explained.

It was a good day to have the last name Ervin. Both Micah (3rd place, 152 lbs.) and Matthias Ervin (6th place, 170 lbs.) made it to the podium in their respective classes, while their older brother Saul won his second state title as a junior in the 132 weight class. Their dad and head coach, Robert Ervin, won KHSAA Coach of the Year.

“It means a lot,” Matthias said.

“Yeah just to watch them be successful and we want to be just like them. it’s just a great feeling,” Micah added.

Coach Ervin agreed.

“It’s stressful when you’re the dad and the coach, because my boys they can’t get away from it…it meant a lot to me. Especially for my twins to wrestle as well as they did today and I’m really proud of Saul, you know, last year he made it to the finals and didn’t win and coming back this year he really had a dominant performance.”

Being a state champion doesn’t come easy, and the guys won’t rest for too long. After all, the new goal is to three-peat.

“I think I’m going to start weight lifting again Monday,” Escalera told Spectrum News.

The Braves also won the title back-to-back in 2007 and 2008 and haven’t been out of the top 3 since then. UCHS had 10 wrestlers make it to the podium and three individual state champions, contributing to Saturday’s win.


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