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According to the tale of the tape, the 6-0 Carroll Chargers may have their best chance ever to beat the wrestling Braves Thursday night in the NHC showdown at the Carroll gym.
In fact, Bellmont coach Brent Faurote, who has never lost to Carroll in his 22 previous years at the helm, gives them the edge in seven matches while Bellmont is favored in six, with one toss-up, at 135 pounds.
"We've got to win all the ones we're favored in, win the toss-up, then find a way to win against one of their seven guys. That's what I told the kids after practice tonight," stated Faurote.
If Carroll wins the dual tomorrow, it would be only the second loss in NHC dual-meet history for the Braves, which dropped a dual to Columbia City to start the 2005 season. Bellmont did come back to win the tourney that year and kept its conference championship streak alive. Bellmont has garnered at least a share of the loop title for 20 consecutive years.
The Braves held off a good Carroll team last year, winning by nine points, 32-23.
The Bellmont coach relishes the challenge. "This is what you train for, duals like this. They think they can win, we think we can win, so it's going to be a battle," said the coach.
One reason Faurote gives the Chargers a realistic chance is their senior dominance in the upper weights. The No. 14 Braves have built a 14-2 record thus far with the strength from 160 on up the real key. The Chargers have seniors in six of the seven upper weight slots.
"We're both fortunate this year to have a lot of seniors in the upper weights. Both teams will have to find a way to reload for next year," said the coach.
The Braves sport rated wrestlers in three of the top four classes and all three Bellmonters are favored. Ryley Hankenson is 16-0 and rated No. 5 for Bellmont at 171. He faces 5-1 senior Jeff Enrieto. Travis Thatcher, 14-0 at 215, is rated fourth and will go against 5-1 senior Gage Andis. The No. 1 rated heavyweight is Daniel Meyer, now 15-0. He goes against Carroll's 6-0 senior Matt McClure.
Bellmont's Brooks Faurote, 15-1, is rated No. 7 at 140 pounds and is heavily favored Thursday versus Carroll's Riley Lefever, 3-3.
The Chargers are rated in three spots, starting with 6-0 Reese Lefever, ranked sixth at 152. He goes against 10-2 senior Will Busse.
Bellmont's John Mahlan is 14-1 at 160, but he'll face third-ranked Conner Lefever, 6-0. Because of his semistate experience, Faurote gives 15th-rated Spencer Raypole the favorite's role over 9-1 Bellmont 189-pounder Isaac Birch, who has been looking very good in recent matches.
Carroll senior Jon Timmerman is 6-0 at 145 and will meet Bellmont's 6-3 senior Anthony Stebing in what should be one of the top matches of the day.
Bellmont's Dewey Melcher, 8-2, and Carroll's Jeff Clark, 3-2, are in the toss-up match.
Faurote has the Chargers favored at 103 with 5-1 Bret Unger, and at 112 with unbeaten senior Logan Ables facing the improving BHS junior Jacob Girod. Bobby Keuneke of BHS, 13-3, is favored over 4-1 Christiam Wilmer. BHS junior Blake Adams is favored over sophomore Beau Blanchard, 3-3.
At 130, Spencer Malcom is 3-3 but is a slight favorite over BHS sophomore Willie Mahlan, 10-6.
"Every point is important. The guys who are favored need to find a way to score more team points. The ones not favored can step up and be the guy that makes a name for himself. That's they way I challenged our guys today."
Faurote notes that there will be about 10 to 12 reserve matches (6:30 p.m.), putting the varsity contest off to about 7:30 p.m.