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Hop's Heresy: ‘Exciting’ Team State finals ... will likely live on

March 1, 2011

THATCHER GETS 'EM — Bellmont's Travis Thatcher picks up his Penn foe and goes for big points in his 14-5 major win Saturday at Team State. (Jim Hopkins Photo)

    "How could you even consider getting rid of this," stated Bellmont wrestling coach Brent Faurote, minutes after his club was beaten by Penn, with the fiasco of a first-round match between Mater Dei and Crown Point finishing up on the next mat.
    That was the big topic of the day, the apparent intention by the IHSAA to cancel the team tourney after this season. One Center Grove official told me that without Mater Dei and Bellmont in 2010, that attendance was way down. There had to be 4 to 5000 there Saturday in a tourney full of exciting matches that came down to the last takedown.    
    At one point, eventual champ Perry Meridian was tied 27-all with Roncalli. A two-time state champ was held out by the No. 1 team, Crown Point, in an effort to try and move him up two classes and win the shootout with Mater Dei. Bellmont needed a good call at 145, and for a penalty point not to be called on Bobby Keuneke, or the Braves would have split with Penn.
    Ironically, with less than a month under his belt, head commissioner Bobby Cox had to make the call on Eric Roach moving up to 160 pounds after winning state at 145. The delay was at least 10 minutes, and Cox got to make his first real important decision as the IHSAA boss. It was NO! He had it right. I'm not sure Roach could have beaten Mater Dei's John Sims. He would have had to for Crown Point to move on.
    But it was an exciting day. Penn needed a comeback win at 189 just to get to the final match and earn their first-ever title. After watching the Falcons dismantle the field at the Bellmont Super Dual, the outcome Saturday was not a surprise.
    "That's the chance you take as competitors," stated a philosophical Faurote after the meet. Sometimes, despite your great desire, the other guy beats you. Penn was just a little bit better, and definitely a little luckier with all of those penalty points, handing out like candy by one official, and all against Bellmont. I saw more penalty points in the one meet than I have seen in any one meet all season.
    The BHS coach pointed talked about the great leadership of his senior class, noting that his five winners were all seniors and that Anthony Stebing should have been a winner had that last takedown been called properly. I liked the 14 points scored in the third period by Travis Thatcher, and the pin by Daniel Meyer. Will Busse was great in his final match, showing that he was as good as a state placer at 152. John Mahlan and Ryley Hankenson took care of business, like they always do when the team needed them.
    Stebing, used to being 145 pounds, would probably like to start the season over right now. It would be much different for him.
    Here are some other state tidbits:
    NOISE METER—"If you put a noise meter on the floor at Conseco and measured the sound last week, and then had one here at Center Grove during the semi-final matches, there would be no comparison," stated championship Coach Jim Tonte, on yet another reason why it would defy logic to end the 16-year grand experiment that is the Team State Wrestling championships. "What you heard here was people who love the sport wrestling. I don't knowhow anybody would want to trade what we saw today. I don't see it," said Tonte.
    NOT HERE WITHOUT BROOKS—It would have been pretty easy for junior Brooks Faurote, after surgery on a splintered finger (6 screws and a plate) to call it a season. Instead, he wrestled mostly with one hand, for his team, taking losses he would never have taken healthy. "The fact is, we're not here without Brooks. If he doesn't beat that Yorktown kid at Team Regional, this isn't possible," said coach and Dad. What he did took guts. He did it for his team. In fact, Brooks' two best career matches have been at Team Regional the last two years as he took out state streeters.    
    CLASS WRESTLING?—I think we'll have this (Team State) tourney another year, then the IHSAA may go to classes, in both the individual and team tourneys," wished Coach Tonte. Maybe Mr. Cox is a wrestling fan now.

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