Bates is best: Boyle senior wins school’s first state title in 40 years

Published 7:17 pm Monday, February 18, 2019

LEXINGTON — For just the second time in school history, Boyle County has a state wrestling champion.

Senior Jordan Bates broke a 40-year drought for the Rebels on Saturday at Alltech Arena, beating Gentry Deck of Madison Central 6-5 in the 138-pound state title. Steve Wright won in 1979, the only other state wrestling champion for Boyle County.

In each year he’s wrestled, Bates has progressed: He lost in the fourth round of the consolation bracket as a sophomore, placed seventh as a junior before winning it all this year, in just his fifth year of wrestling.

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You’ve just got to work hard with the time that you’re given,” Bates said. “A lot of these kids have been wrestling since they were six years old. I started in eighth grade. I just had to work harder throughout the years to get to where I’m at now. That just kind of motivated me to keep going and keep pushing forward to be the best.”

Bates is the best. Deck had a 27-1 record entering the state tournament and beat Bates in the region championship this year. But that didn’t matter, and when all eyes were focused on the 138-pound weight class, it was Bates who stepped up.

“Mindset, I’m going to go in there and pin him in like a minute,” Bates said. “I’m going to dominate the whole match, he’s not going to get anything, not going to touch my legs. I’m going to get my attacks and pin him quick. That’s the goal every time.”

That didn’t quite work, but Bates still managed an impressive start in the final.

The two wrestlers worked around the mat before Deck gained an advantage as both wrestlers hit the mat. Bates stood up and locked both of his legs around Deck’s left leg and leaned back, executing a perfect broomstick.

The broomstick was something that Bates had worked on with assistant coach Kyle Terry during practice.

“Me and Kyle worked on it during practice, Kyle advised against it but I hit it anyway and it worked,” Bates said. “He got in my legs, I’m not super happy about that. I wrestled a bit defensively after the broomstick and I wish I could’ve gotten to my offense more. But a win is a win.”

Lucas said that Bates has hit that move countless times, and it’s one that requires perfect timing and technique to catch an opponent off guard.

It worked, and it gave Bates a 5-0 lead (two points for a takedown and three points for a near fall).

“The mindset that he had going in, we knew we had a good sweep. I’ve seen him hit that broomstick a thousand times on kids,” Lucas said. “Seen him hit it in Fargo, North Dakota, seen him hit it in Ohio, on everybody. I never thought I’d see him hit it in the state finals, and then he hit it. Five points right off the bat. For any wrestler, that’s hard to come back from. He’s the best in Kentucky.”

Deck was the aggressor the rest of the match, and Bates worked his defense. He nearly hit another broomstick later in the match but instead scored his final point for an escape.

After the title, Bates didn’t do much celebrating. He shook hands with Deck, shook hands with the Madison Central coaches before he was hugged by Lucas and Terry off of the mat.

“He’s the kid that comes around once in a lifetime,” Lucas said. “He sets the standard for Boyle County wrestling. I can see a lot of young guys up there in the stands watching right now, and they try to mimic everything he does. I stop them in practice and say, ‘hey, look how he’s doing this move.’ Seventh graders, eighth graders, freshmen are doing it the same way because they want to be just like Jordan. They want to win like Jordan. He sets the standard.”

Once he made it his focus to win a state championship, Bates was laser-focused. Lucas made the comment that he had to force Bates to take days off. But he wouldn’t. Bates would watch film on days he wasn’t on the mat. He focused on diet. He lifted weights. He worked out on the mat. He learned from previous mistakes.

“There’s no way I’d be where I am now without God, he’s given me the ability to compete with the best guys in the state,” Bates said. “You take your bumps when you’re younger and then you just grow, that’s one of the things you’ve got to do is learn from your mistakes. When I lost to Gentry in the regions, I wasn’t like, ‘well he’s going to beat me in the state finals too.’ I’m going to come back, make it to the state finals and beat him in the state finals. Figure out your mistakes, then go back in the practice room, work on them, work hard.”

Lucas said Bates’ drive inspires him as a coach and inspires his team.

“I’m just proud of him, I’ve worked with him for four years, I wish I would’ve been here sooner,” Lucas said. “I wish I would’ve gotten him at a younger age. He’s a once in a lifetime kid. I love him to death. His work ethic is tireless, he’s always asking me what time he can lift or work out. All summer. Every day. Non stop. I have to force him to take a day off and he still don’t take a day off. He’s just a great kid, great role model, a good Christian kid. His morals are great. Self discipline. He’s just a great kid in general.”

Bates said the help of his team — Boyle had six wrestlers make day two of the state tournament — played a role in his successes this year. Logan Tuggle and Ben Rush, both underclassmen, will build on this season’s successes. Seniors Clay Karsner, Collin McGlone and Jacob Robbins were also there on day two.

“Teammates played a huge part for our success,” Bates said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys like Logan Tuggle, Ben Rush. They’re going to get a lot better, they’ve just got to keep putting in the work. The seniors, me, Collin, Clay, we’ve worked hard all year long. Clay and Collin have been great drill partners all year long and have been there for me and supported me, and Jacob has been there too.”

For Lucas, having a wrestler as special as Bates is a dream come true.

“We knew we had God on our side, really. If it happened, great, if it didn’t, it wasn’t meant to be,” Lucas said. “We have greater things than just on the mat. He’s using this as his way to show it, he’s doing a great job at it. He’s a great role model for all kids in Boyle County and in the state. Everything that he does. You don’t get many kids like that.”