Area wrestlers take aim at state titles


Marianna’s Chris Warf is one of 11 area wrestlers competing in the state tournament this weekend.

Andrew P Johnson photo
Published: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 15:10 PM.

It’s a mixed bag of experience for area wrestlers headed to respective state tournaments this weekend.

The Florida High School Athletic Association event takes place at The Lakeland Center starting on Friday. Eleven area athletes, including 10 in Class 1A and Mosley’s Forrest Lang making a fourth trip in 2A, will vie for medals in the two-day event that has a habit of ending the hopes of even some of the best to come from the Panhandle.

Arnold has two of the top contenders in Richie McClanahan (120-pound weight class) and Brock Carlan (126). The duo has combined for only three losses against a more difficult schedule built by coach Jeff Skipper. It was by design to give them and Paul Patterson, who also qualified at 132, a taste of the talent level they’ll face in the coming days.

They will be prepared for the competition level, but not necessarily for any expected nerves. This is Carlan’s second appearance as a junior after finishing a win from the podium last year, or sixth place or better. McClanahan is a freshman and Patterson a sophomore making their first trips to state.

Skipper said the schedule and wrestling in national events has helped prepare McClanahan and Patterson for the bigger stage.

“These guys have seen the massive number of mats out in the arena and the crowds and know the quality of opponents,” Skipper said. “We wrestled in the Deep South Bayou (tournament) and Flagler to get them ready. If they all show up and wrestle it (a state title) is well within their capability.”

Carlan and McClanahan will open with slightly more favorable draws after securing Region 1-1A titles in Jacksonville last week. That gives them a first-round opponent who finished fourth in another region and a potential semifinal matchup with wrestlers finishing Nos. 2 and 3. Patterson is the area’s lone second-place regional finisher.

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