FORT WAYNE — "We just had too many fifth places," admitted Bellmont coach Brent Faurote Saturday evening after Carroll knocked off the No. 8 Braves to win its first-ever NHC wrestling crown.
The Chargers, with all 14 placing and only one fifth place, compiled 240 points with four champions to the 228.5 points of Bellmont, which had three champs, but four fifth-pace efforts.
It was only the third time since the NHC was formed in 1989 that Bellmont did not win the NHC Wrestling Tourney. East Noble won in 1990 and Columbia City nipped the Braves in 2004.
Bellmont heavyweight Daniel Meyer won his third NHC championship as he headlocked and stoned Carroll's Matt McClure in 46 seconds, and after McClure surprised the state's No. 1 wrestler with a quick takedown. Meyer wrestled only 2:21 on the day as he took care of business with first-period falls.
Travis Thatcher scored his second NHC win for Bellmont, pinning Homestead's Brad Mills in 3:13 of the 215-pound title match. Ryley Hankenson outclassed the field with three falls, including a 2:24 pin of Carroll's Jeff Enrietto in the 171-pound title match.
"Placing all 14 was huge," stated Carroll coach Paul Voigt, who was voted NHC Coach of the Year following the meet.
"It was our guys who finished third and fourth that made the big difference today. We started out without Logan Ables (top seed at 112), but the kids overcame that and got some key wins early. The kids fought and scrapped and won this meet," said the coach.
"We hope to be able to give Bellmont a run every year."
Bellmont junior Brooks Faurote, wrestling with a huge brace which covered his surgically repaired left hand, made it to the finals but couldn't finish a move against East Noble's Lucas Rieke in an 8-3 loss. Faurote scored a fall over Justin Trigg of Columbia City and won 5-0 over Carroll's Riley Lefever to get to the title match.
Hankenson felt that he just did his job. "I had beaten those guys before, so it was no surprise. But this is disappointing. We needed to have some guys come out here and wrestle better than their seeds. Instead, some of the guys finished below their seeds. It was a rough day for us," said Hankenson.
"There were a lot of places that we could made up 12 points," said Coach Faurote.
"But that doesn't take away from what Carroll did. The lost Able and weren't shook up by it, and their kids came through.
"On the other hand, you have to be able to hold a kid off with a big lead like we had at 119, even if the kid is only once-beaten. Especially in a championship match, you've got to have some defense," added Faurote, noting the 9-7 loss of by junior Bobby Keuneke, who had a 5-0 lead going into the final period against Homestead's Kody George. "We had several guys that lost in the final seconds. You can't do that and be champions," said Faurote.
George he several single-leg takedowns, getting key two-pointers in the final 23 seconds to secure the win.
Bellmont's Dewey Melcher was seeded No. 1 and finished fifth, yielding late takedowns to eventual champ Josh Kryder of Homestead in an 11-9 semi-final loss. He then fell 4-2 in the wrestlebacks and placed fifth.