"We need that championship effort," stated Bellmont wrestling coach Brent Faurote, who has challenged his team to follow the Bellmont tradition and "find that switch and turn it on, take it to the next level" against a strong Penn team Saturday at Center Grove in the first round of the IHSAA Team State Wrestling Tournament.
"We definitely wrestled at a high level at Team Regional against Yorktown and Carroll. If we can find that performance, that level, we'll be fine."
The Braves avenged a 10-point loss to Yorktown during the season with the 30-28 regional upset win as every wrestler in the lineup seemed to do the job assigned. The Braves will need that same magic against a Penn team which defeated them 46-15 at Bellmont on Jan. 8.
"That score doesn't concern me," stated Faurote. "Brooks (Faurote) wasn't in the lineup and Travis (Thatcher) lost by injury default, and those were big points right there, and we lost some more close ones. We just have to find a way to pick up points."
"We caught them in the very last round of a meat grinder, especially for them. They were banged up," stated Penn coach Brad Harper, who was named coach of the Year if the Indiana State Wrestling Coaches Association.
Harper earned his award by getting Penn over the hump, beating arch-rival Mishawaka at sectional and getting his club to Team State for the first time in 13 years. Penn also won the Mishawaka Invitational, topping Bellmont by a couple of points for the crown.
"We're looking for a match that comes down to bonus points," said Harper. "We think it'll come down to the wire, a real close one. Bellmont has a tough tea
There are several spots where the Braves can cut into that margin that Penn recorded in January. Faurote is back and strong at 140, where Dan Ginter of Penn topped sub Trevor Love in 36 seconds. That could be a nine-point turnaround, as could the loss by Thatcher, caused when he ran out of blood time against Devin Reagan at 215.
A key match is 152 where Mike Hummer pinned Will Busse, who had beaten Hummer at the Mishawaka Tourney. Hummer placed eighth at the state tourney last week.
"They've split two matches. It's our turn there," said Faurote..
The Braves lost two overtime matches, one at 130, and the other at 189, where Brad Busse fell to Mike Hamm (state finalist) 3-1.
Daniel Meyer scored just a decision over Kade Maggart at heavyweight. Grant Angelmeyer at 145 scored a 10-1 major over Anthony Stebing, who stepped up big in the regional to lead the way for the Braves. Angelmeyer will have his hands full with the new Stebing.
Ryley Hankenson had the only fall for the Braves in the dual.
"We need pins and to stay off our backs. That is huge," said Faurote.
"It's been a tough week, with the death of (Coach) John Friedt. The kids are still recovering from that, and we used that as motivation. 'Let's do it for John.' He'd be proud of us if we were in the hunt for a medal," stated Coach Faurote.
"We're excited about getting down there because we haven't been in a long time. I hope they don't get rid of it because it keeps all the kids involved," said Harper.
The BHS coach likes the fact that about half his varsity has Team State experience, while it will be new to the Penn grapplers. "Our kids know what to expect. It can't hurt," said the coach.
"We just need some kids to step up, to be the guys that come through. We want those medals, and maybe a shot at Perry Meridian."