While it would have been great for some of the five Adams County state wrestlers to come away with placements last weekend at the IHSAA State Wrestling finals, that disappointment doesn’t take away from very successful seasons from both Bellmont and Adams Central had...and South Adams for that matter.
As it turns out, there are no really good draws at state, Bringing in the top 16 wrestlers from around the state in each class ... well, it guarantees some mean competition.
Of the five opponents of the locals, only one failed to win another match as Mater Dei’s Wyatt Seng finished eighth at 138 after a 7-1 win over Adams Central’s Derek Ellinger, who just couldn’t seem to get out of Seng’s grip after losing the opening takedown. A sore ankle likely contributed to Ellinger’s problems.
BHS frosh Bryce Baumgartner, who was wrestling with a dinged up right shoulder, was felled by Gabe Koontz of Edgewood. All Koontz did was finish third at 160. The state champ, Rhett Hiestand of Yorktown, defeated Baumgartner just 3-2 in the regional finals two weeks before.
At that weight, getting to state as a freshman is an outstanding accomplishment, and it’s certainly a jumping off point for Baumgartner.
The best chance for a win for the county came at 170 as Kaine Luginbill battled hard against Michael Bates of South Bend Washington. Luginbill took the lead in the third period with a three-point nearfall, but yielded a late nearfall to fall behind. He was actually on top at the buzzer going for a reversal, but was only given an escape point. Bates got the overtime takedown.
Bates took fourth, as did Austin Holmes of Hamilton Southeastern at 113 after he downed Bellmont’s Jon Becker 6-3. Becker had a great year, and a spectacular break-out tourney at Mishawaka, placing third.
BHS senior Logan Neher took the lead against Isaac Rentas of Merrillville after a reversal and nearfall in period one, but also had trouble underneath and didn’t score again in a 7-4 loss. Rentas lost the next round but came back for fifth.
Neher made it to state at 30-15, which means he had to overcome a tough stretch and had to win that match over Weimer of East Noble just to get to state.
The combined record of those five winners was 11-8.
Congratulations go to Heritage junior Sam Lovejoy, who went 3-1 and took fifth at 132 pounds for the Patriots. He obviously will be highly regarded next year at the weight he settles in and showed through the tourney that he could get a score when he needed to.
Connor Knapp, who nipped SA’s Sawyer Miller in the match to go at semistate, finished third at 120 for East Noble. Miller likely would have done the same, and will have another shot for a third state placement next year.
Myron Howard-Anderson of Yorktown, who was fortunate to take out SA senior Klayton Hinshaw by holding him down in overtime at regional, finished fourth in the state at 182.
East Noble took 10th as a team with Garrett Pepple again getting a runner-up finish, this one at 113 pounds. Brandon Joest took seventh at 220.
Cathedral put three in the finals and took one title with brute of a heavyweight in Wesley Bernard, and that was enough to win the tourney over Franklin and Yorktown.
It’s probably going to take at least that kind of performance to win the state crown most years.
One disappointment in the finals came at 145 as Perry Meridian’s Cody LeCount tipped Mishawaka’s Tommy Forte in a battle for 2013 champs, 3-2. In a wild match at the Bellmont Main Event, LeCount needed a late flurry for a comeback win. There were no flurries in this rematch. The choreographed routine the pair did at the introductions was the most interesting part of their night.
Bellmont righted the ship after a rare down season in 2013 and will have two sophomores in the room next year with state street experience. Hopefully, that semi-state ticket round performance will be good enough to get the Braves invited to the 2A Coaches tourney next year.
Adams Central came within a match or two of repeating as Class A state champs in the coaches tourney, taking second. Coach Doug Schultz feels that the Jets deserve another invite to team state.
Because of the multiplier factor, which rates the Jay Sectional and Regional low, it’s almost impossible to get into the top 15 teams for the three county squads after the first two rounds of the state tourney.
Still, all three teams deserve to get in invitation next year, and I think they will.
If not ... well, it severely dimishes the credibility of the dual team tourney.