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MISHAWAKA — Brad Busse took the 182-pound championship while Bellmont teammates Daniel Gunsett and Logan Neher finished sixth in the annual Al Smith Wrestling Invitational Friday. The Braves, normally finishing in the top five, finished 10th overall as Penn won 215 to 214 over Merrillville.
Busse pinned Tony Rodriguez of Hobart in 4:28 of the semi-final match, then took the title as No. 1 seed Tanner Adams of Jimtown forfeited because of injury in the championship round. Adams was suffering a severe migraine headache.
"You could tell the kid was hurting during the introductions. It was one of those freak things and the coach apologized," stated Bellmont coach Brent Faurote.
"In the four matches that Busse had, he had four pins, and in every match he had a strong, athletic kid. He had to work for all those wins, but got it done," praised the coach.
Busse led Rodriguez 1-0 in the first period because of a penalty point (scissors). Busse scored on a headlock and led 6-1 in the second. He overpowered Rodriguez in period three and forced the fall to go 16-0 on the season.
"It was nice to get a champion," said Faurote. Ironically, Penn had no champs, and only one second and one third place finish. Five fourth-place finishes helped the Kingsmen top Merrillville, which had one champ, and Mishawaka (198), which had three champs.
Both Gunsett, a freshman, and Neher, a junior, won Friday morning matches. Gunsett had two takedowns in the first and two more in the second to jump out in front of Justin Johnson of Merrillville, winning 9-6.
"Gunsett was dominant on his feet. He hit some real nice monkey rolls and beat a solid kid," praised the coach.
Neher had lost to Sawyer Hallas of Chesterton 5-4 in the first round Thursday, and avenged that with an 8-7 win Friday, getting a pair of late takedowns.
"Neher just stayed on the attack, and that was the thing he did in the entire tournament, he was constantly battling and trying to find a way to score," praised Faurote.
Gunsett lost in the next round, 5-2, to Peru's Connor Quinn, He had a real tough loss in the match for fifth place as he led in the late seconds. He hit a pair of takedowns to take the lead 8-7, the last with 30 seconds to go. The wrestlers rolled out of bounds with seven seconds left. That's when Penn's Dakota Cochran, a junior, hit a granby roll on the restart, then switched to a headlock, getting the fall with one second left, at 4:59.
"It was just a super wrestling effort from the freshman," lauded Faurote.
"He had to wrestle hard to get back in it and was just trying to ride him out."
In the second round Friday, Neher ran into No. 1 seed Trevor Manspeaker of Penn, who was pushed back into the consolation battle with a loss in the morning. He took out Neher 11-1.
"Logan came back and wrestled a great match, losing 7-6 to Mat Kelly of Center Grove. His avenging the loss to Hallas was a bright spot in the tourney for us. He just had an outstanding tournament and wrestled hard, with a lot of heart," praised the BHS coach.