Prior to this season, Creekview wrestling’s state meet history consisted of one state champion, two state finalists and a seventh-place team finish back when head coach Sean Kitchen first arrived on campus. Last weekend in Cypress, the Mustangs rewrote their record books cover to cover.
Behind a pair of state champions and one state runner-up, Creekview placed third overall in the Class 5A team standings with 75.5 points — amassing its best-ever finish at the state meet and exiting the Berry Center with plenty of hardware to celebrate a benchmark season.
“We had never even had multiple finalists in one year, so this was amazing,” Kitchen said. “The highest we had ever finished before this year was seventh. It has been eight years since and we were able to get into the top three and take home a big trophy for once.
“It was great for the kids and great for the program, because it gives them something to work for.”
The Mustangs had already laid a promising foundation for their trip to state after placing third at regionals, but Kitchen was well aware that his team’s top-shelf talent would need to distance from the pack if the program had any ambitions of tussling with the state’s elite. Sophomore Conrad Hendriksen, senior Coby Eiksenhorst and junior Mason Ding did just that, winning their first three tournament matches to amass the largest contingent of state finalists in program history.
Hendriksen and Ding kept their momentum rolling on their way to championship wins at 106 and 195 pounds, respectively, while Eikenhorst capped his high school career by placing second overall at 138 pounds.
“Going into that second day, I knew we had a shot at getting up into the top three but we had to definitely go 3-for-3 in the semifinals,” Kitchen said. “I knew they were capable of it. They’re warriors and it was going to come down to how they were ready to battle. It was pretty awesome to see.”
The moment was a redemptive one for Hendriksen and Ding — both of whom qualified for state last season but, according to Kitchen, came away feeling they were capable of more. Just a freshman at the time, Hendriksen carried himself like a seasoned veteran — something accrued through years of high-level experience on the mats well before beginning his high school career.
That made a 2-2 state run in 2019 tough to stomach, but Kitchen attributed Hendriksen’s growth since, which included earning All-American status over the summer, to a singular work ethic. That served the sophomore well last weekend against a loaded field at 106 pounds.
“He had some real stout competition this year — the bracket was actually harder than it was last year,” Kitchen said. “The kid who got second last year took sixth this year and the kid who got third didn’t even place. It was loaded, and he even got a little sweet revenge against the kid who had given him his only loss this season (Lubbock’s Zachary Casias). It took a lot of focus and determination and he battled through really tough matches and made it to the top.”
Hendriksen took a 3-1 decision over Casias in the finals to capture his first-ever UIL state title. Later in the afternoon, Ding followed suit — and in decisive fashion.
The junior pinned his first three opponents in less than five total minutes of action and went on to hand Justin Northwest’s Aiden Jean, a defending state champion, his first loss of the season.
“He’s a great athlete who excelled at other sports coming into high school and still made it to state as a freshman and sophomore,” Kitchen said. “Over the last year, he has shown me that he has what it takes to become a Division I type of kid. He’s constantly lifting and practicing every day and has worked so hard to get where he is.”
Eikenhorst, meanwhile, rebounded from a junior year where injuries and illness contributed to missing out on state altogether. A fourth-place finish at regionals set up a tough draw for the senior, wrestling four opponents that were all either regional champions or runners-up, but Eikenhorst still grappled his way onto the podium to take silver despite falling to Frisco Reedy’s Jackson Bourne in the finals.
“He went from being fourth at regionals this year to making the state finals and that was one of the biggest parts of us getting top three as a team,” Kitchen said. “The kid he wrestled in the finals had been wrestling forever, so being able to battle against someone like that shows what type of athlete Coby is and how gritty he is.”
Creekview’s three state medalists headlined an overall banner postseason for Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD. Joining the Mustangs among the top six at state was Newman Smith senior Carmine Marino, who placed fifth overall at 132 pounds, while R.L. Turner junior Mia Uvaldo managed a fifth-place run of her own at 102 pounds.
LISD takes lumps in 6A
While all comers were playing catch-up to the Allen boys and Euless Trinity girls in the Class 6A state meet, Lewisville ISD had wrestlers from Lewisville, Marcus and Flower Mound earn points for their respective teams.
The highest marks for the meet belonged to the Lewisville girls, with Elsye Nelson and Katelyn Allen combining for nine points to tally a 38th-place team finish. Both grapplers advanced to the quarterfinals in their respective weight classes — Nelson at 110 and Allen at 215 — but had a tough go from there. Nelson extended her stay at state to four matches, going 2-2 and picking up wins over Cy-Fair’s Aliyah Trigueros and McAllen’s Stephany Juarez before bowing out in the consolation quarterfinals, while Allen managed a pinfall win over Katy Mayde Creek’s Rewa Chababo before dropping her next two matches.
Marcus picked up three points for the meet behind Aidan Forgay, who scored a pinfall win over Comal Smithson Valley’s Kobe Mora in his first consolation bout of the tournament but suffered a pair of losses elsewhere.
Flower Mound’s Luke Cambere, meanwhile, recovered from an opening-round setback to win his first consolation matchup as well, winning a 9-1 decision over Lake Travis’ Sean Conway, but had his run end one round later.