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By JIM HOPKINS
MISHAWAKA —"I guess the wheels fell off the bus today," stated Bellmont wrestling coach Brent Faurote after just four of his Bellmonters qualified for second day action at the 34th annual Al Smith Classic Wrestling Tournament.
'If there was a way, we found a way to lose today. If we were leading we got caught, if we were in overtime, we gave up nearfall points. That's just the way it went today," added the veteran coach, whose Braves earned 96 points and sit in seventh place going into today's placement round.
A year ago, Bellmont was second with eight placers. Bellmont has won this tourney 14 times and has placed in the top four multiple times. That won't happen this year.
Three Bellmonters did go 3-0 and earn spots in the championship bracket: Brooks Faurote at 145, Brad Busse at 182 and Ben Baker at 195. Bobby Keuneke went 3-1 and earned a spot in the 120 pound consolation bracket.
Merrillville leads the tourney after the first day with 133.5 points to the 130.5 of defending champ Penn. Elkhart Memorial is third at 126.5 followed by the 124 of Center Grove, 112 of Jimtown, and 102.5 of South Bend Clay.
Several Bellmonters made a run at getting to the second day, including senior Jon Poling, who took Jack Davison of Chesterton to overtime, but yielded that nearfall in a match that would have put him in the meet today. He also dropped a match by yielding a takedown in the final three seconds. Brett Baker bounced back from a tough first round loss to win three times, then lost in the match to go 7-4 to Jimmy Fisher of Columbus East. An ailing Isaac Birch went 3-2, falling 9-2 to Braxton Eby of Mishawaka in the final match at 220.
Brooks Faurote had two first-period pins plus a forfeit to earn a shot in the final four. "Brooks hit his single leg, locked up a good cradle and used a headlock to beat the a good Columbus East kid (Tim Shuler). He'll face West Noble's Kevin Marsh, a kid he beat 6-3 at semistate last year for third place," stated Coach Faurote of his son.