FORT WAYNE — "If the kids wrestle anything like we did today this Friday night, we'll be in good shape. We just had an outstanding day," stated a euphoric Bellmont wrestling coach Brent Faurote Saturday night after the Braves foursome took the tourney by storm.
The Braves went an incredible 17-4 on the day, winning their last eight matches as Bobby Keuneke at 120, Brooks Faurote at 145, Brad Busse at 182 and Ben Baker at 195 stood atop the podium as champions in one of Bellmont's best-ever Fort Wayne showings.
Adams Central had a tough day, getting only one of eight wrestlers through as senior Chantz Luginbill took fourth at 160. South Adams advanced three to next Friday's state finals, including 132-pound champ Todd Batt. Frosh Sawyer Miller took second at 106 and junior LJ Moser was fourth at 113 pounds.
The Braves just missed on getting five to state when a battered Isaac Birch fought back to tie Elkhart Memorial's Chase Spears, but lost by fall in overtime.
"Birch was right there, so that loss was a tough one, but it was just apart of his bad week. He had back trouble and then popped a rib on Thursday," said Faurote.
The Braves lost seniors Jon Poling (113), Blake Adams (126) and Dewey Melcher (152) in the first round. The Jets lost Andy Oliver (106), Zeke Schultz (152) and Rob Shoaf in the first round, then former state streeters Cody Walburn and Derek Roe (132) were clipped in the quarter-finals, with Roe's loss a controversial one. Matt Ellinger, who stormed back to win his opening match 13-12, lost in the quarter-finals by fall to eventual champ Crume of Jimtown. Ben Pfister won his first match at 182, then lost in overtime 3-1 to Carson Volheim of Elkhart Central in the match to go.
Roe was in control of Evan Loe of Peru, leading 6-5 as the final seconds wound down. Leo made a bid for a reversal, but Roe had a leg hooked and seemed in good shape as the match ended. Following a protest and discussion, Loe was awarded a point post-match, then countered the aggressive Roe to get the OT takedown for the 8-6 win, ending Roe's prep career.
Loe was later felled by Batt in 2:16 of the final.
Walburn fell behind Erique Early of Snider, rallied but fell short 6-5 in the quarters. Early was pinned by Keuneke in 3:04 of the semi-finals.
Keuneke then did something he had never accomplished before: winning a high school wrestling tournament.