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With 13 seeds, including three No. 1 spots, Bellmont's battle-hardened Braves have a real shot at the Northeast Hoosier Conference Wrestling Tournament crown Saturday at the BHS gym. Of course, they'll have to fight off defending tourney champ Carroll, the dual meet 2014 winner, and East Noble, which finished second last year with six titles. Four of those winners return.
"It's a three-team race," said Bellmont coach Brent Faurote, who is taking a team into a conference tourney for the 26th time.
"Carroll knows that. EN knows that and we know that. The big thing is we can't have any kid get upset— a kid who is supposed to place high— and not place, and that's the same way with the other teams. We need to stay away from major upsets and get as many guys in that championship match as we can."
Carroll has 12 seeds, including four No. 1s and five No. 2 slots, while East Noble has 10 seeds, including four No. 1 spots and three at No. 2.
Every match, obviously, is going to be very important.
Action will begin at 9:00 a.m. at the Teepee tomorrow morning. Semi-finals are slated at 11 a.m., wrestle-backs at 1:30 p.m. and the championship round is tentatively set for 3 p.m.
The Braves are in new territory, going into the tourney portion of their schedule off their busiest second-half ever. In a period of eight days, ending this past Saturday at North Central, Bellmont wrestled 14 matches, winning 10, including eight of their last night. In that run, the Braves knocked off No. 12 Bloomington South and No. 18 East Noble.
The Braves capped off their regular season at the Stardome Tuesday, downing Barry Humble's Starfires 63-12. It seems that even after the excruciating, back-loaded slate, the Braves are in a good frame of mind.
"I'm glad we're not as beat up I thought we might be after this spell I thought. Last night (Monday), I was watching the guys early in practice and they really had a lot of life. I thought these guys would be dragging, I'm dragging. Saturday was a 16-hour day, by the time we got on that bus and drove home in that snow storm, it was a just a long day," said Faurote.
The Braves, normally finished with the regular season after the early January Main Event at BHS, was forced to extend the schedule because of weather-related postponements. Bellmont lost out on the New Castle Super Duals, and ended up at North Central in a much tougher affair.
From 1969 through 2006, Bellmont dominated conference wrestling, accumulating 35 league titles. It's been tougher since as the NHC improved, first with Columbia City, then with Carroll and East Noble.
Carroll, rated No. 9 in the state in the Indianamat.com Genius Ratings, conpared to No. 24 by BHS and No. 27 by East Noble, is not a notch above Bellmont. "We're up 10-1 in a match (132) that would have given us the regular-season dual meet title, so we're right there," said Faurote, whose Braves were 6-1 in league play.