MISHAWAKA — Bellmont's John Mahlan tripped LaPorte's Alex Stewart at the edge of the mat as the final seconds ticked off the clock in the 160-pound match to advance, and he latched onto Stewart's leg, earning the buzzer-beating takedown to secure one of five BHS spots in the semi-finals in the Al Smith Wrestling Classic.
The Braves have four more wrestlers on the consolation side and led the 32-team tourney after the first day with 128 points to the 123 of Penn and 121 of host Mishawaka.
The host Cavemen also have nine grapplers left, five in the final four, while Penn has nine but four in the finals. Merrillville is fourth with 113 points while Center Grove is fifth at 109.5.
"Our kids stepped it up and wrestled with their hearts today. They all pressured their opponents and wrestled well. They knew that they had to do and they came out there and did it," said BHS assistant coach Paul Gunsett, whose six wrestlers in the upper weights, competing in the auxiliary gym, all advanced, including four on the winners' side.
Mahlan, Ryley Hankenson at 171, Travis Thatcher at 215 and heavyweight Daniel Meyer all went 3-0 for the Braves, as did 140-pound Brooks Faurote, who pinned his way to the semi-finals in the regular gym. Brad Busse at 189 and Will Busse at 152 both advanced to the consolation side at the auxiliary gym. Bobby Keuneke at 119 and 145-pound senior Anthony Stebing also made it on the consolation side. All four in that bracket went 4-1 on the day.
All 14 Bellmonters won matches, contributing to the leading total.
The Braves will attempt to keep the momentum today and win the Smith Classic for the first time since 2003. Belmont is seeking it's 15th Mishawaka crown.
"It's been a while since we've walked out of here after the first day feeling good. I'm feeling really good right now," stated Bellmont assistant coach Tim Myers.
"Getting nine guys through and five on winners' side, that's an excellent showing," stated Bellmont head coach Brent Faurote.
"We had only three advance out of the main gym, but only one was seeded. We did about as well as we possibly could. In the matches we did lose we got beat by better kids," added Faurote.
Mahlan was not about to let his opportunity get away. "No way was I going to lose a 1-1 match, not here, with a placement on the line," stated Mahlan.
"I heard coach Gunsett say there were five seconds left, so I just went for it."
Mahlan knocked off Penn's Phil Treely 6-2 in the opening round, then felled Casey Adams of Jimtown.
Hankenson pinned Mishawaka's Khari Burning, then Phil Miller of Rochester. He majored Nate Coddens of Riley 15-4 to ice his spot.
Thatcher took a pair of injury defaults with a 4-3 win over Gelan Robinson of Lake Central in between. Meyer had two falls, then an 8-0 major of Mishawaka's Bradon Eby.
Will Busse was nipped in the third match, 4-3, by top seed Cam Matteson of Elkhart Memorial at 152. "That's the best Will has looked all year. He stepped it up today," said Gunsett.
Will pinned Kyle Baxter of Lake Central to earn his spot. His brother, Brad, lost his first match at 189, had two falls, a major and a 6-1 win over Princeton's Dalton Habig.
"Brooks was dominant," said Coach Faurote of his junior son. Brooks felled Lucas Reicke of East Noble in 1:26 to earn his slot for today.
Stebing won his first match, was beaten, then won three matches, two by fall. He downed Jacob James of Center Grove 6-2, using his Fireman's carry, to earn his consolation bracket slot.
Keuneke lost his opener to the No. 2 seed, then won four with two falls, a tech fall and a 7-1 win over Carlie of Columbus East.
"Bobby got behind a couple of times and came right back, showing some toughness," praised Coach Faurote.
Dewey Melcher won a pair in the wrestlebacks and led McLoid of Riley 4-2 in the third. He couldn't hold a late switch attempt and lost 5-4.
Al Smith Classic
TEAM SCORE (after lst day): 1. Bellmont 128, 2. Penn 123, 3. Mishawaka 121, 4. Merrillville 113, 5. Center Grove 109.5; 6. Lawrence North 108, 7. Columbus East 104.5, 8. Prairie Heights 103, 9. S.B. Clary 94, 10. Jimtown 90, 11. Lawrence Central 89, 12. Muncie 80.5; 13. Goshen 67, 14. Lake Central 65, 15. Chesterton 64.5, Elkhart Memorial 64.5, 17. Warsaw 62, 18. Peru 61, 19. Michigan City 59, 20. Princeton 58.
103-Jordan Richards (B) WBF; Freestone (NPR) p. Richards :30; Rymsza (St. Joe) p. Richards 1:26.
112-Girod (B) p. Lutz (Mich. City) :38; Sparks (LAN) m.d. Girod 11-3; Lechowicz (L. Central) d. Girod 4-0.
119-Boston (L. North) p. Keuneke (B) 5:53; Keuneke p. Mavros (Low) 3:36; Keuneke p. Hubbard (Pri) 1:33; Keuneke t.f. Munoz (War) 18-2; Keuneke d. Carlie (Col. East) 7-1.
125-Blake Adams (B) d. Willsey (C. Grove) 5-2; Crume (Jim) p. Adams 1:15; Adams p. Swanson (S.B. Adams) 1:34; Simpson (Roc) p. Adams 2:17.
130-Barroquillo (Prince) p. W. Mahlan 1:52; Mahlan d. Chambers (*Jas) 5-2; Short (L. Central) m.d. Mahlan 120-3.
135-Rieker (Col. East) t.f. Melcher 17-2; Melcher p. Escobedo (L. Central) 3:42; Melcher t.f. Meyer (Pri) 17-0; McLeod (Riley)( d. Melcher 5-4.
140-Faurote (B) p. Foust (Peru) 3:54; Faurote p. Wison (NWD) :54; Faurote p. Reicke (EN) 4:37.
145-Stebing (B) d. Hill (Jim) 7-4; Logan (Mish) m.d. Stebing 18-6; Stebing P. Nuracy (Mun) 2:32; Steing p. Croy (EN) 2:10; Stebing d. James (C. Grove) 5-2.
152-W. Busse (B) p. Stevens (Go) 2:56; Busse m.d. Koberstein (Pri) 14-3; Matteson (E. Mem) d. Busse 4-3; Busse p. Baxter (L. Cent) 1:43.
160-J. Mahlan (B) d. Treely (Penn) 6-2; Mahlan p. Adams (Jim) 4:24; Mahlan d. Stewart (Lap) 3-1.
171-Hankenson (B) p. Burning (Mish) 1:18; Hankenson p. Miller (Roc) :49; Hankenson m.d. Coddens (Riley) 15-4
189-Hoover (War) p. B. Busse 1:38; Busse p. Housholder (Ean) :55; Busse m.d. Coffinger (NPR) 12-2; Busse p. Valnciano (Jas) 2:07; Busse d. Habig (Pri) 6-1.
215-Thatcher (B) by def. over Moore (EN), Thatcher d. Robinson (L. Central) 4-3; Thatcher by def. over Kukla (Mish).
285-Meyer (B) p. Henderson (E.Mem) 2:25; Meyer p. Kerrick (Mun) 2:19; Meyer m.d. Eby (Mish) 8-0.