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"It was definitely, by far, my biggest win," stated South Adams senior LJ Moser, after knocking off No. 1 rated Schuyler Phillips of Yorktown, 3-1, in the 120-pound Jay County Regional Wrestling championship match Saturday.
"I was so nervous with 20 seconds left on the clock. I'm thinking, this is the state runner-up and he's ranked first, and I just have to hold on, and I was able to do it."
"As long as I've been coaching, that may have been the biggest upset win by a South Adams wrestler," stated coach Eric Myers. "I know they are both good, but the Yorktown kid was a returning (state) runner-up and the No. 1 kid in the state. It was just a great win, and a great confidence-builder for LJ in the stretch run."
Sawyer Miller repeated as a regional champion for the Starfires, who put six through to the Fort Wayne Semi-state, including runner-up Klayton Hinshaw at 170, and three third placers.
Yorktown dominated the team race with five champs and 12 qualifying en route to 223 points. Adams Central, led by champ Cody Walburn at 126, finished second at 125.5 with seven advancing, including three seconds and a third placer. Muncie South took fourth at 118 points. South Adams was fifth at 103.5.
Bellmont had a nightmarish first round, losing six times in nine matches, and finished fourth with champ Brad Busse at 182, runner-up Trevor Gray at 106, and third-placer Daniel Gunsett at 113. Those are the only semi-state-bound Braves.
"In my 25 years, this is the fewest number I've ever taken to semi-state, and we had years when we only took three in a weight class," admitted a disappointed Bellmont coach Brent Faurote.
It was just a continuation of a substandard season, marked by the falling of long-time title skeins in conference and sectional. "It's just the way we are this year. I can't, won't, and haven't figured these kids out this year. I know we're not as good as we have been, but we just expect more effort, more heart and more guts. They just don't have another switch. It's a shame."
Adams Central lost three matches in the title round, including a 6-2 setback at 182 as Ben Pfister fell for a second straight week to Busse.
"It's the kind of day we thought we might have, but I was hoping for a couple more. (Hunter) Bates wrestled a real good match against the Delta kid, but came up short, and I thought we might get the heavyweight match (Joe Fuelling). We were a couple of guys short of what we could have had," said coach Doug Schultz.
Sophomore Luke Liter took third place at 152 for the Jets.
Busse hit a first-period single-leg and almost caught Pfister as he did a week ago in secitonal. He added another takedown in period two to ice it. Busse had two previous falls, including a semi-final toss of James Antonoglou of Union City. Pfister hit a low single in overtime to nip Yorktown's Myron Howard 3-1 to get to the finals.
"I've been really wrestling hard last two weeks, and I feel like I'm really improving. Now I finally have a little confidence against Pfister," said Busse, who feels he'll likely have to face the AC wrestler this week in Fort Wayne.
"Walburn is looking good, finally hitting stride with confidence at the right time," said Schultz after his 10-0 win over Yorktown's Logan Campbell in the finals. Walburn added a tech fall and a pin.
"I have been wrestling my best and giving it my all, and things are going pretty well," said Walburn.
AC's Derek Ellinger made it to the finals at 138, losing to third-rated Chandler Carroll of Yorktown, 14-6. Ellinger topped SA's Boaz Marbach 6-0 in the semis, then Marbach came back and took third with a 1-0 win over Angel Rascon of Winchester. Bellmont's Willie Mahlan earned fifth, one of five Bellmonters to wrestle back to alternate status for next week.
At 160, AC's Kaine Luginbill pinned SA's Shea Pyle in the semis, then lost 6-0 to Yorktown's No. 5 Rhett Hiestand in the title match. Pyle nipped Khalil Lewis of Muncie South 2-1 for third. In the opening round, Bellmont's Brett Baker led Lewis 8-3 in period three, but was cradled and pinned. He finished fifth.