By JIM HOPKINS
If both area conference wrestling tourneys follow the seedings Saturday, then the two champions will be Adams Central in the ACAC and ... East Noble in the NHC.
The Jets came out of their seeding meeting with four No. 1 seeds, three seconds, three thirds and a fourth. South Adams, which appears to be the only team who can give the Jets a run, has two top seeds, three seconds, a third, and five fours.
In the meet slated for East Noble Saturday, the hosts will have four No. 1 seeds, along with Bellmont, then three No. 2 slots to one from Bellmont. The Knights have 12 seeds to 10 for Bellmont and DeKalb in what could be a three-team race.
Of course, this situation is nothing new to Bellmont. The Braves get beat up in the seeding room because of their schedule, which is by far a lot tougher than all of the other NHC teams. If a wrestler doesn't meet and beat all of his foes during the dual-meet season, then it comes down to overall record, and the losses against some of the top teams in the state do not help.
"We'd like to win this tourney (after losing last year to Carroll), and last year we had some kids wrestle below their seeds. We can't have that. The kids have to wrestle up to their seeds and even better than their seeds," stated Bellmont coach Brent Faurote.
The situation is opposite for Adams Central. The Jets, like Bellmont in the NHC, went 7-0 in the ACAC to claim that share and can complete the rare domination in the league with the win at home on Saturday.
"The seeding was good, as far a draw goes. if we wrestle to our seeds, we should win the thing. Everybody there will try to keep us from doing that," stated Jets' coach Doug Schultz, whose grapplers finished the regular season with a sterling 27-5 record.
A Jets' win Saturday would snap a string that South Adams is trying to extend. The Starfires have won or shared the ACAC mat crown for four straight years. The Jets held off the Starfires in the dual between the teams early this season, and that settled the dual portion of the title. The Starfires have to score some upsets to win the tourney Saturday and extend that skein to five.
The Jets, and the Braves, know all about conference domination. The Jets won or shared the title for 23 consecutive years up to the 1990 season. Bellmont dominated the old NEIAC, then lost to East Noble in the first year of the NHC Tourney in 1990, then have won or shared the crown since then. There was no dual-team race in 1990.
Only Columbia City, a few years back, and Carroll last year have topped the Braves in the NHC tourney after that first year.
Faurote was disappointed in two particular seedings: at 113 and at 126 as seniors Jon Poling and Blake Adams took fourth seeds. Poling have beaten his East Noble foe in the dual, but the Knights put another wrestler, 15-4 Sterling Litter, at the meeting, and he took the No. 3 seed over the 19-9 Poling. Adams had a rough Super Dual at will take an 18-10 mark into the postseason.
Bellmont will be without senior heavyweight Brian Hakes, who has a hockey engagement Saturday. Skyler Hayes, who has shown definite improvement this year, is unseeded in that slot for BHS and should score some points.
At 195, Ben Baker goes for his first NHC crown, but will have to find a way to beat nemesis Spencer Raypole of Carroll, whom he lost to last year in the tourney finals.
"We just have to find a way to score, but the Raypole kid is very good defensively. Ben just has to find a way," said Faurote. This match will definitely be 2-1 or 3-2. It will come down to one takedown. I like Baker's chances.
Of course, the conference tourneys are just prelims to the real deal, the Jay County Sectional, set for a week from Saturday. Bellmont will put a 21-year skein on the line in that one, with Adams Central and South Adams in the chase. The loss of Taylor Isch to the Marines ... is going to make it tougher for the Jets.
Adams Central comes off their toughest super dual of the season, going 2-3 at Warren Central this past Saturday. The Jets were two individual match wins away from walking out 4-1.
"Against (No. 14) Warren Central and Ben Davis we were right there. In a couple of matches we were ahead, then were pinned," noted Schultz.
"The majority of kids wrestle well, though we did give up some pins," said Schultz.
" (Cody) Walburn beat two quality kids, from Warren and Roncalli, really dominated both of them. Ben Pfister beat ranked kid Roncalli 8-0," pointed out the coach.
"(Derek) Roe wrestled super, beating the Moss kid from Ben Davis (rated No. 4), Zeke (Schultz) had a big day and a couple of our young kids, Luke Liter and Andy Oliver both beat quality kids and went 3-2."
Things are going to heat up in a hurry.
BHS SEEDS for NHC: ONES-Bobby Keuneke, 120; Brooks Faurote, 145; Brad Busse, 182; Isaac Birch, 220; TWOS-Ben Baker, 195; THREES -Dewey Melcher, 152; Brett Baker, 160; FOURS-Jon Poling, 113; Blake Adams, 126, and Jacob Girod, 132.
ACAC SEEDS: Ones-(AC) Cody Walburn, 120; Derek Roe, 132; Zeke Schultz, 152; Ben Pfister, 182; (SA) Todd Batt, 138; LJ Moser, 113; TWOS-(AC) Chantz Luginbill, 160; Derek Ellinger, 126; Joe Fuelling, 285; (SA) Sawyer Miller, 106; Eric Pimentel, 120; Jordan Landers, 170; THREES-(AC) Adam Cook, 113; Luke Liter, 138; (SA) Klayton Hinshaw, 195; FOURS-(AC) Andy Oliver, 106; Taylon Elzey, 220; (SA) Austin Grabau, 132; Boaz Marbach, 126; Charlie Hirschy, 145; Shea Pyle, 160; Isaac Werst, 182.