While Bellmont has some 30 points to make up from a previous loss to Penn in the first round of the IHSAA Team State Wrestling Championships Saturday at Center Grove, Roncalli also has some ground to cover after losing to Perry Meridian 37-15 in a Dec. 11 meet. That was the only loss of the season for the Rebels, coached by former four-time state champ Lance Ellis of Indianapolis Cathedral.
Perry, a 52-15 winner over Bellmont in the BHS Super Duals in January, looks to be the winner there and will advance to the semis against the Bellmont-Penn winner. Jim Tonte's Falcons enter at 25-0. a 45-24 win over Cathedral in the Team Regional was the closest score of the season for the No. 2 rated team.
Crown Point, 21-0 and rated No. 1, takes on No. 3 and 10-time Team State champ Evansville Mater Dei in the opening round.
"I really don't look for any blowouts. There should be some exciting first round matches," figured Penn coach Brad Harper, who brings his Kingsmen into the fray for the first time since 1998.
The Delphi Oracles, who come from a school of just 520, are 23-9 and will meet 18-4 Lawrence North in the other first round matchup. Delphi has 171-pound Tanner Lynde, a third-place finisher at last week's state meet.
"Mater Dei has an outstanding dual meet team, one of the best they've had in years," states Evansville Courier sportswriter Steve Ford.
Jake Lannert at 140 and Josh Boots at 189 were fourth place finishers for the Wildcats last Saturday while John Sims at 160 was a state runner-up. They had six in the state fray, including heavyweight Justin VanWinkle, who yielded a late four-point nearfall to Bellmont's Daniel Meyer in the 285-pound quarter-final bout. VanWinkle placed seventh.
Sam Goebel at 112 and Josh Pierre at 119 were finalists.
Crown Point had a great individual tourney with Jason Tsirtsis at 140 and Eric Roach at 145 repeating as state champs while Josh Fuqua was runner-up at 103 and Kyle Kral third at 215. Kral defeated Bellmont's Travis Thatcher in a controversial 4-2 overtime decision.
Jake Fuqua was a finalist at 135, Dusty Schurg at 160 and Kyle Shrewberry at 171.
The winner of the Mater Dei-Crown Point match will likely be in the finals.
Bellmont has a history of wrestling well in the state tourney and two years ago was a nearfall call away from knocking off a strong Perry Meridian team in the quarter-finals. The Braves defeated Perry once before, coming from behind late, and also Bellmont knocked off Merrillville in a close match a few years back.
"It's a tradition. Our kids just seem to do their best this time of year, both at Team State and at Team Regional. Everyone is aware of it," stated Bellmont coach Brent Faurote, who is counting on turning around a few matches against Penn tomorrow.
"A lot of our kids have been there before and know what to expect. Penn hasn't been there in a long time, so we hope to have an edge there. It can't hurt," said Faurote.