HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING

Sloan, Gochberg earn silver medals for Vandegrift at state wrestling tournament

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CYPRESS — There’s a relaxed culture around the Vandegrift wrestling program. The Vipers know they’re good for the Central-Texas area, but when the lights get brightest, they know how to turn up the intensity. 

A pair of Vandegrift wrestlers won silver medals at the UIL State Wrestling Championships at the Berry Center on Saturday. Luke Sloan took second in the 132-pound division while Noah Gochberg finished second in the 126-pound weight class.

“We warm up the same way for every match and we compete the same way for every match,” Sloan said. “It’s just about relaxing and knowing that if you perform to your ability, you can beat anybody.” 

In the finals, Gochberg lost a 4-2 decision to undefeated Parker Decker from Keller. Sloan lost a 9-1 major decision to Plano West’s Tagen Jamison, who was defeated in just one match all season.

This was the second trip to the state tournament for both wrestlers. Gochberg was the state champion in the 113-pound weight class, and Sloan finished 4th in the 126-pound division as freshmen a year ago. 

“Last year, I was still so young,” Gochberg said. “Everything was my perfect world and its as set up for me. I got a lot more mentally mature on an off the mat in general and that’s the thing I’m most proud of this year.”

Vandegrift placed 7th overall as a team. 

Gochberg needed just over three and half minutes to pin Carlos Doria from La Joya Juarez-Lincoln in the first round of the state tournament on Saturday and followed that up with decisions over Luke Garcia of Arlington Martin and Kobe Nelms of El Paso Franklin to earn a championship match for the second year in a row. 

“I felt like I had a long more strength and a lot more confidence,” Gochberg said of moving up in weight class. “It’s a little slower. I didn’t have to worry as much about what I was eating. It was a lot more enjoyable.”

After winning his first two matches, Sloan needed overtime to hand Lake Travis senior Jordan Strmiska his second loss of the season. Sloan couldn’t get revenge on Jameson after losing to him in the regional final as well. 

But both wrestlers are looking to make it three state tournaments in three years. 

“Not much different, I just kept working hard, and that builds up over time,” Sloan said. “I just kept getting better. This is better than last year, but there’s room for improvement. I want to be on the top of that podium.”

Elsewhere in Class 6A, Leander senior John Geiger finished 4th overall in the 120-pound weight class. Geiger, a state tournament veteran, won in overtime in the consolation semifinals to advance to the consolation final. 

Vista Ridge sophomore Aaron Lofton finished in 3rd place in the 145-pound weight class, winning via fall in 2:28. He also advanced tot he finals with a win via fall in the semifinals. It is his second straight bronze medal at the state championships. 

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