Categorized | Sports

Trojan Grappler earns respect taking on Mid-South’s best

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Trojan Luke Walker puts the squeeze on an opponent Saturday during the Trojan Invitational during a 182-pound weight class match.

Trojan Luke Walker puts the squeeze on an opponent Saturday during the Trojan Invitational during a 182-pound weight class match.

Gearing up for Regionals and a possible run at the State Tournament next month, wrestlers from all over the Mid-South made their way to the William Osteen Gymnasium in Millington last Saturday.

Among the grapplers participating in the 2013 Trojan Invitational from Arkansas and Tennessee was Millington Trojan Luke Walker. The junior wrestler entered the event fresh off a second-place finish in Jonesboro, Ark., and still unranked in the 182-pound weight class in Tennessee.

One reason Walker came into the weekend unranked was wrestling several weeks in the 195-pound division. Now with injuries behind him and his weight firmly around 182, Walker is poised for another trip to State in the weight division.

“I’m getting a lot better,” he said. “My conditioning is improving a lot. I had a rough start to the season with injuries and stuff like everybody on our team has. I’m getting better everyday. I’m definitely improving. My last match I definitely showed a lot with new moves.”

After testing out some new  moves, Walker returned to the mat later in the day and disposed of his opponent in 30 seconds. Facing grapplers from schools like Central Arkansas, Raleigh-Egypt, Fayette Academy, Kingsbury, Bartlett, Brighton, St. George’s, Southwind and Collierville, Walker was one of the favorites in the Trojan Invitational.

But the previous week in the Natural State he was not one of first picks to win.

“I like being the underdog and people not knowing who I am and making a name for myself,” he said. “I’m coming in here trying my hardest to make a name for myself.”

With his mindset on shocking the competition, Walker got off to a slow start losing to the top competitor in his weight class, LaRue County’s (Kentucky)  BJ Carman. The Bluegrass State standout finished third in the 195-pound weight class in his state. And against Walker, Carman won sending the Trojan to the loser’s bracket.

“Coming off that first loss, I was anxious to get out there for the next one,” Walker recalled. “I put everything out there to beat that guy because I definitely wanted to place. I hate going into a tournament and not placing. It was definitely a big motivation to get to wrestle him again because I know he was going for first.

“I had to wrestle another tough kid because he was the No. 1 seed in the second round,” he continued. “I went out there and wrestled my hardest and whipped him pretty good.”

After running through that bracket, Walker faced Carman again this time for the tournament championship. It would be Carman to leave Arkansas with the title. But Walker left the event with a renewed dedication.

“I proved to myself I can do it,” he said. “If I put my mind to it I can get back into it even when I’m down.”

Walker plans to have more ups and downs with Regionals approaching. His goal is to return to State and place in the top 6. Taking on some of the best from around the Mid-South, Walker said he is more confident he could reach the top podium at Regionals to earn a better seed at State.

“It’s going to be tough but it’s a possibility,” he concluded. “I got the guy at Cordova to go against and he’s definitely a tough guy. We shall see.”

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January 2013
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