Hudson Herring

The Colony senior Hudson Herring, right, captured first place at 132 pounds at the Region 2-5A wrestling tournament at Prosper Rock Hill on Saturday. He improved to 23-0 on the season.

After the start of the wrestling season was delayed twice over concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Colony was determined to make the most of it.

Despite having only six weeks to get in mat time to prepare for the Region 2-5A tournament – compared to more than two months in a normal year – seniors Elizabeth Grabiec and Hudson Herring have led the Cougars on an awe-inspiring journey.

That journey continued last Friday and Saturday at Prosper Rock Hill High School.

The Colony advanced four wrestlers to the Class 5A state tournament, led by first-place finishes by Grabiec at 165 pounds and Herring at 132. Sophomore Tabitha Bowden is also state-bound after she wrestled to second place at 95 pounds. Senior Tanner Wride will join them at the Berry Center in Cypress after he captured third place at 170.

Wride overcame a lot of adversity to qualify for state — he battled injuries and quarantine this season and had just a 1-1 record going into the district tournament. In that meet, he placed third. Last weekend at Rock Hill, however, he went 3-0 on the second day of regionals, including a 15-10 decision of Midlothian’s Tylor Knighton in the third-place match.

“I’m so proud of that dude,” Herring said of Wride. “I love him so much. He’s like a brother to me. He’s had a rough go of it. Every single year of high school, he’s gotten injured. He’s had shoulder problems all year. Just about every practice, his shoulder will pop out and we’ve got to pop it back in. I’m so proud of him. He’s a phenomenal wrestler, he’s a really good guy and a man of Christ.”

Herring will take a No. 1 seed into the state tournament, but it didn’t come easy. He came close to having his undefeated record ended in the semifinals. Trailing by one point, Herring scored a takedown with three seconds remaining to pull out an 8-7 decision. In the first-place match, he pinned Lancaster’s Jose Machado. Herring improved to 23-0 on the season.

“I’m really grateful,” Herring said. “I just sort of took it one step at a time. I didn’t think a lot about it. I just knew what was in God’s will and what would happen.”

Herring and Machado were both undefeated heading into their matchup. Machado took a 2-0 lead with a takedown. But, Herring proceeded to turn the match around in a big way.

“Machado is a really good wrestler,” Herring said. “He’s really tough. I knew that if I could get up on my feet that I could out-wrestle him at neutral. I just tried to get up, and when I did, I knew that I could win the match. I knew my gas tank was bigger than his and just tried to push the pace and tire him out.”

Grabiec, meanwhile, is now a two-time regional champion.

The Colony senior looked dominant in cruising to the 165-pound title. She won all three matches via pin and improved to 24-0 on the season.

“My mentality was that, ‘I just need to win this. I’m not getting a loss this year,’” Grabiec said. “I was just so nervous. But, once I stepped out there, everything went away.”

Bowden scored 24 team points for the Lady Cougars. She secured her place in the state tournament with a pin of Wakeland’s Natali Hattar in the semifinals. In the first-place match, Bowden lost a high-scoring 18-12 decision to Lebanon Trail sophomore Janaya Baeza. Bowden improved to 20-4.

The state tournament is set for Friday and Saturday at the Berry Center in Cypress.

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