For six straight matches Jim Kraeszig had a front-row seat to dominance, watching wrestler after wrestler represent St. Xavier High School in the finals of the State Championships.
“It was a treat, a real blessing,” the St. X coach Kraeszig said. “I think the officials got tired of hearing my voice.”
And though the Tigers won just two of those six matches, that was enough to give them their third team championship Saturday night. An event-record crowd of 5,012 fans in the Kentucky Horse Park’s Alltech Arena saw the Tigers post 203.5 points, just ahead of 2012 champion Campbell County (193) and perennial power Union County (176).
Many considered Campbell County and Union County the favorites, but St. X was the one to add another trophy to its previous wins in 1998 and 2001.
“It was St. X’s weekend,” Campbell County coach Mike Bankemper said. “They put six in the finals, and they were better than us.”
Trinity (sixth place, 120 points) and Oldham County (eighth, 99.5) were the other Louisville-area schools in the top 10.
It was a big night for Louisville wrestlers, who captured five individual crowns. Fern Creek sophomore Jorge Vega started the night with a victory at 106 pounds, and Trinity senior Bobby Bryant closed it with a win at 285.
In between, St. X’s Justin Lampe (145) and Hunter French (160) and Southern’s Thomas Noe (195) won titles.
French won the Orville Williams Outstanding Wrestler Award after clinching the team title for the Tigers. He scored a 4-3 victory over Simon Kenton senior Stephen Myers, who entered with a 65-1 record and was the state champion at 152 last year.
“It was joy and then extra joy when I came to the realization that I had sealed up the team title,” said French, who had lost to Myers 10-4 earlier this season. “I was so pumped out of my mind.”
Junior Justin Lampe started St. X’s run of six straight finalists, beating Franklin County’s Tevon Clay 14-6 in the 145 title match. Lampe, the state runner-up at 132 last year, finished his season with a 51-0 record.
“It wasn’t really a goal in the first place,” he said. “The goal for every match is to win, so if you stay with that plan the undefeated just follows.”
Finishing as runners-up for the Tigers were Justin’s brother Dominic Lampe (152), Noah Bauer (170), Brandon Pledger (182) and Konner Thompson (195).
Noe defeated Thompson 12-9 to give Southern just its second state champion, joining Joe Powers at 140 in 2006.
Southern coach Chris Redmon said Noe “has the biggest heart I’ve ever coached.”
“The odds were against me all week long,” Noe said. “I was on the harder side of the bracket … but now I’m on top of the world.”
Vega used a rare move called the “Super Duck” to take a 2-0 lead in his 3-1 victory over Woodford County seventh-grader Trevor Lawson.
“You wave your arms one way, fake to that leg, and as soon as they step it back you go for the other leg,” Vega said.