"We wrestled better in that final round than I thought we would. We doubled 'em up, winning nine matches and most of those we stuck 'em," stated a proud Adams Central wrestling coach Doug Schultz, commenting on the Jets' historic championship in the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association first team tournament this past Saturday.
The Jets took the Class A section of the state tourney by storm. They not only doubled up Churubusco in the championship match, 49-24, but on the day it was Central 156, the challengers 60.
Adams Central proved beyond a doubt that they are the best small school wrestling program in the state, something that was suspected 20 years ago before the Jets went through a lull in numbers.
Schultz addressed that issue as well.
"There are always those who say 'We should've, could've and would've.' I told our boys all those other AC teams in the school's history might feel that way, but no one can take this away from you. Our performance leaves nothing to doubt. This team deserves the credit," emphasized Schultz.
“They beat Bellmont, obviously not the strongest Bellmont team, but they did beat Bellmont, and then took this tourney and doubled up Churubusco in the finals. They handled the pressure, stepped up and got it done," praised the coach.
"It was all good. We wrestled great. We had a tough match against South Putnam, who was much better than Prairie Heights. They had me scared coming down to those last few matches. They had physically strong kids, like Lewis Cass and 'Busco."
The Jets led just 16-15, then took two forfeits. AC won five of the next six, three by fall, and took out South Putnam 49-24. Luke Liter, Kaine Luginbill and Mason Call all won by pin to put Putnam out.
Five Jets went through the day unbeaten. Cody Walburn, named the Outstanding Class A Tourney Wrestler, and Ben Pfister, as expected, zipped through the competition, including Walburn's 12-4 major over 'Busco's 14-1 Chase Downing at 126. Derek Ellinger's perfect day at 138 was no surprise. However, Kaine Luginbill at 160 and Mason Call at 170 blitzed the field as well.
Both had three pins on the day.
"Our kids were excited, our fans were excited. In fact, the smaller schools had more fans and more enthusiasm than the other two classes," said the coach.
The Jets moved from the crowded fieldhouse after the first round to the main gym at Westfield for the semis and finals. The Jets crunched Prairie Heights for the second time this season, 61-13. In the finals.
After Shane Shroyer clipped AC's Hunter Bates just 16-14 at 132, the Jets won five of the next six as Ellingter, Luginbill, and Call all pinned, and Pfister won 8-2. Key in that final was a gamble by 'Busco, moving Brandon Wormcastle up to meet Luke Liter at 152. He nipped Liter 3-2, but at 145 Zac Yoder spoiled the ploy with a 3-1 win over Joey Heaton.
"They thought they could pick up two, but we almost got both. Liter was almost in on a takedown and needed just a few more seconds to win that match," offered Schultz.
The AC coach felt that there are schools with facilities better than Westfield, such as Huntington, but still it was a special day. Perry Meridian won as expected in 3A and Yorktown took the 2A tourney.
"Everyone liked the atmosphere and competition. From the big school perspective, I'm sure they'd like to go back to the one-class team tourney. This was great for the smaller schools, and even the 2A schools. I told coach (Brent) Faurote that this is a tourney that Bellmont can win. Sure, once in a great while they might be able to win a one-class tourney. They definitely can win at 2A," said Schultz.
"Against Perry, there are only a couple of matches we might win. Yorktown already proved they can handle us. It's like comparing apples to oranges. They have so many more big, athletic kids to choose from."
Schultz liked the setting, and feels it was a great step forward for Indiana High School wrestling. The IHSAA cancelled the 17-year team, one-class tourney after last year. It's likely that, if the powers at be in the IHSAA had made it a class tourney from the beginning, it would still be state sponsored and more popular than ever.
"It was great for Adams Central and for the small schools. The naysayers can say all they want, but everybody in the state agreed to this format, so, yeah, it's a state title. I'd say the coaches (association) hit a home run with this," offered Schultz.
"This is just like the NCAA format, a team tourney about now and an individual tourney, with team scoring, at the end of the season, in three classes. This is the greatest format and puts a lot of excitement into high school wrestling."
"This team wrestled well against Bellmont, and was strong and confident Saturday. This team is maturing and getting better. We may not have the best talent, but these kids are hard workers," said Schultz.
And state champs!