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TMP's Hockett on the bubble for regional

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

Thomas More Prep-Marian High School sophomore wrestler Ricky Hockett was just a couple matches short of qualifying for state as a 120-pound freshman.

TMP wrestling coach Josh Peterson made it a priority for Hockett to up his mental game this season, and it has paid off with a 21-9 record, again at 120 pounds.

"The mental focus is really what we've been focusing on and making smart decisions with our eating. Making smart decisions when you are wrestling," Peterson said. "He made some rookie, freshman mistakes last year and hopefully we don't make those mistakes on Friday."

Hockett will take his improved skills into the Class 3-2-1A regionals Friday and Saturday. TMP will compete at Trego Community High School in WaKeeney along with 22 other schools, with a chance to advance to next week's state championships at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays. The top four individuals advance out of the regional.

"Last year I wasn't in anywhere near as good of shape," Hockett said. "I've rounded my skills more. I just feel a lot better than I did last year ... I just got to focus on the next match and take it one match at a time."

Hockett, along with 113-pound freshman Tucker Rhoades, will provide the Monarchs' best shot at advancing past regionals. The pairings won't be announced until Friday morning, with the tournament getting underway later that afternoon.

"I'm expecting them to just continue wrestling hard like they have all year," Peterson said. "They've all worked hard. They've put in some dedication and some time. Hopefully they can win a couple of matches. That's my goal for several of them."

TMP will take its entire seven-man team to regionals. Alongside Hockett and Rhoades will be freshman Josh Plante (12-15 at 126 pounds), freshman Mark Loftus (2-12 at 132 pounds), senior Justin Raynesford (6-20 at 145 pounds), sophomore Jacob Roth (1-9 at 152 pounds), and freshman Chris Stecklein (1-9 at 170 pounds).

Rhoades is expected to make the most noise for TMP. The freshman is 26-7 this season and is ranked No. 4 at 113 pounds in Class 3-2-1A. While this is his first time competing at the high school level, Peterson believes his experience as a successful junior high wrestler should serve him well at regionals.

"He has that experience with the kids wrestling and being to the state tournament. He kind of has that atmosphere. He knows what to expect," Peterson said. "He is going to have to beat probably three good kids to qualify for state, no matter where he is at on the bracket. The same with Ricky. He has to beat three good guys to get qualified for state, and they have that potential."