Special to The Telegram

HAYS — Scott City senior 126-pounder Alex Kough earned Class 3-2-1A Wrestler of the Meet honors last week at the Norton regional, widely considered the toughest regional in the classification. He was one of the favorites at 126 pounds entering the state meet this weekend at Fort Hays State University's Gross Memorial Coliseum.

Kough (29-4) won his first two matches and will face Ball (42-0) in the winner's bracket semifinals this morning. Kough believes the match is the de facto state title. They have never faced each other. However, Kough's path, especially in the first round, wasn't easy. He defeated Gypsum/Southeast of Saline senior Zach Turner, 19-11, and then beat Caney Valley junior Guy Kinder by fall in the second round.

"I still need to pick it up a little bit if I want to get into the finals," Kough said. "I have got a really tough match tomorrow and hopefully I wrestle my best and I can get in."

The tournament started at 4 p.m. because of the weather, and didn't conclude until after 11 p.m. Norton held a sizable lead and looked to win its sixth title in the last decade.

Kough has longtime knee problems and the injury flared up again several times against Turner.

With 22 seconds left, Kough led 17-10, limped around the mat and needed an injury timeout. Kough said the bursa sac in his left knee "is very tender to the touch." Kough finished the mat and then slowly came off the mat.

"I caught my knee cap on the ground and just ripped it right up," Kough said. "I got a big 'ol swollen knee cap. They thought I tore something, but I guess I didn't. I don't know, but I have had bad knees in the past. I have already had two knee surgeries, so it just affects it even more every time that it gets beat up on. It's just getting worse."