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"The super dual at Calumet is very good, but this one is definitely one of the very best, with six out of the eight ranked. You can't get much tougher," stated Bellmont coach Brent Faurote on Saturday's annual wrestling feast, the Bellmont Super Dual.
The ninth-ranked Braves host No. 2 Perry Meridian, sixth-rated Mishawaka, seventh rated Penn right off their title in the Al Smith Classic, 14th rated Bloomington South, and Castle, ranked until this week in the Indianamat.com poll and currently rated No. 14 in the coaches poll. Two of the top small-school wrestling teams in the state complete the field with Whitko 15-6) and newcomer Fairfield (20-3).
"Lawrence North has been our closest dual (41-21), but we'll find out a lot more this weekend," stated veteran Perry Meridian coach Jim Tonte, whose squad has meet every challenge so far. The Falcons have won the Marion County Tourney, the Capitol City Tourney, the Franklin Duals and the North Montgomery Duals.
"In every meet we've had this year everything has gone our way. I don't think we're all that tremendous," admitted Tonte, who may be underplaying his hand.
"One thing about these guys, even the ones who aren't that good, is that they think they are supposed to win every time out. Some of our mediocre kids get whipped on, but it's hard to beat our 14," said Tonte.
The Falcons are led by No. 1 rated Jared McKinley (25-1) at 125 pounds. He's one of five No. 1 rated wrestlers who will be performing at Bellmont on Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. The host Braves have 22-0 Daniel Meyer at heavyweight while Castle brings in top-rated brothers Doug and Chad Welch at 152 and 160. Penn's Alex Gregory, the Outstanding Wrestler at Mishawaka, is No. 1 at 130 pounds. There are 30 rated wrestlers in the field..
The Falcons also have unbeaten Kirk Johnson at 152,, and unbeaten frosh Cody LeCount at 112 pounds. Jake Masengale is 19-2 at 171 and Derek Harz at 160 is 22-3.
It's so hard to get into the Meridian lineup that senior Michael Clem, who has over 90 victories in his career, can't find a slot at 125 or 130. He's 5-2 on the season and will likely see some action Saturday.
Whitko is a two-time sectional champ who has made it to Adams Central in consecutive years, and Fairfield is off to a solid 20-3 start. Whitko's new coach,, Frank Baumgardner, reports that he has had several key injuries and some of the setbacks may cost his grapplers any chance of returning this season.
Faurote reports that 189-pound sophomore Brad Busse, who won seven straight matches at Mishawaka, has won the spot again this week. However, both of his top competitors, Ben Baker and Isaac Birch, will see action at 189 or 215 on Saturday.