Cabot’s Tyler Kurz is the first high school wrestler to win four state championships in four years as he won the Class 6A/7A 182-pound weight class at the Arkansas High School wrestling tournament at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock on Saturday.
Kurz is one of two Panthers to win state titles as Cabot finished fourth in the team standings.
Austin Dye won the 106-pound weight class, beating Connor Perkins of Little Rock Catholic 32-6 in the final.
For Kurz, he has now won state championships at 112, 125 and 145 pounds before winning at 182 this season. He was also named the wrestler of the year in the 182-pound and up classes.
“It was pretty easy putting on the weight as it came naturally with lifting and eating as much as possible,” he said.
Kurz said he’s always had a goal to win four state titles.
“It’s been my main goal for all of high school and I’m proud to have reached it,” Kurz said. “It feels good to have set a precedent for all of the other wrestlers to follow.”
In the state tournament, Kurz scored 32 points for the Panthers.
He beat beat Russellville’s B.J. Hogg in the first round by pinfall. He then beat Sheridan’s Eli Anderson. Kurz beat Fayetteville’s Andre Childress in the quarterfinals and Conway’s Ben Hughy in the semifinals.
In the championship match, Kurz beat Rogers’ Edwin Santos 9-6.
Kurz is now the most-decorated athlete in Cabot Panthers’ history.
“It’s great to give everyone someone to look up to but it’s somewhat sad because it all happened so quickly,” he said.
Kurz signed with Ouachita Baptist University in the fall. He said the state title will help him get ready for college wrestling.
“It shows me that I just have to keep stepping up my game to get ready for the big leagues,” he said.
Cabot coach Jason Rogers was proud of the way that Kurz finished his high school career.
“What can I say about Tyler?” Rogers said. “He was a leader everyday in the practice and tournaments. Having senior leadership like we’ve had this year makes coaching very enjoyable.”
Rogers said Kurz has taught him more about wrestling than Rogers taught Kurz the past four seasons.
“It was a great privilege to watch him walk through the tournament again this year,” Rogers said. “At no point was I concerned about the match after I saw how focused he was coming onto the mat for the championship match.
“There are competitive kids in every sport but he is one of the most dedicated and competitive athletes I have ever coached. We are proud of him and wish him the best at OBU.”
Dye scored 27.5 points for the Panthers. He received a first-round by then beat Greenwood’s Clay Watts by pinfall.
Dye beat Rogers’ Jose Sandoval in the quarterfinals and Springdale Har-Ber’s Kimble Jennings in the semifinals before beating Perkins in the finals.
Hayden Mills finished sixth in the 113-pound weight class. Erik Cooley was fourth in the 132-pound weight class. Bryce Mitchell was fourth in the 145-pound weight class.
Kyle Wheeler finished as state runner-up in the 152-pound weight class, falling to Rogers’ Nick Mulcahy in the championship match.
Seth Roberts was sixth in the 160-pound class.
Other wrestlers participating were Draysen Mead (120), Nicholas Patterson (126), Jacob Kurz (138), Brandon Barrantine (170), Austin Jones (195) and Matthew Lemaster (220).
Bentonville won the Class 6A/7A team title with 254 points. Catholic was second with 193.5 points. Rogers was third with 191.5 points. Cabot was fourth at 161. Little Rock Central was fifth at 157.5 points.
“I am really proud of all of our wrestlers.” Rogers said. “We took 13 kids to the state tournament on Friday, and took nine back on Saturday. We had seven kids medal in the top six of their respective weight classes. I was very proud of our senior leadership this year. We had some very difficult times throughout the season with injuries and sickness, and they were always at practice keeping the younger kids focused.”
The Panthers lose five seniors to graduation, including Wheeler, Roberts, Tyler Kurz, Bryce Mitchell and Austin Johnson, who was injured during the season.
“I am very proud of all of the wrestlers — varsity and junior varsity,” Rogers said. “We had a great practice room the past few weeks. That is one reason we had that many kids medal. I am very happy our 106 wrestled as well as he did. He grew up quickly in this tournament. I have seen hints of it all year and Austin Dye finished his first high school state tournament as a champion.”