Kicke'em while they're down ... but hurry!
"Somehow, it doesn't seem right, going into this week and not really being a factor," stated Bellmont coach Brent Faurote, who is very used to the rest of the NHC figuring a way to take Bellmont down.
It just never happened.
Never, however, is now.
"There's going to be a good team race, but it's going to be East Noble and Carroll," admitted the wrestling coach on the tourney set for DeKalb High School Saturday. "We're going to have to wrestle hard just to get third."
The Braves are having that hiccup year, when 11 wrestlers went out the door and there just weren't enough pieces to fill in. The team has never been smaller, at 25, and 12 are freshmen. That never happened before.
On Saturday, the Braves will have five freshmen in the lineup.
"We knew it was coming," admitted assistant coach Tim Myers.
"I could see it in the summer ... of 2011. Some of these guys just weren't ready to step in at the level we needed, the level we're used to."
The Braves had to rely on freshman, and after about 120 pounds, that's a lot to ask with the schedule that Bellmont keeps. The big boys at Perry, Penn, Mishawaka and Bloomington take no prisoners. Heck, Carroll and East Noble aren't letting many hang around this year.
The amazing thing is that the Braves were relevant every year, and not just in the NHC, but in the sectional, regional and state. And, if there was a talent gap, it always closed as late January approached when the Bellmont veterans responded and got ready for the big Team Regional showdown with Yorktown.
And this season is not over. Though Adams Central has to be the odds-on favorite to continue their storybook season next week at Jay County, it wouldn't take much, with four decent teams, to have a great team race.
"I want the kids to wrestle hard and carry it on to next week, and it will be a wide open sectional," hoped Faurote.
"AC will be favored but anything can happen. Last year we went in favored and some other teams threw some wrenches at us, got us in trouble and we battled back and won by five. Adams Central is the favorite this year, but South Adams and Jay County have solid squads with some excellent wrestlers," said Faurote.
That's next week. This week ... it's a tough challenge.
"We'd have to have several upsets, and there's been times over the years that in some big matchups we needed a couple of wins here and we got them, but to climb this mountain, we'd have to get a tremendous amount of help and we'd have to wrestle unbelievably well just to be in the hunt," described the coach.
Though this group has taken some unusual losses, like the second and third in the history of NHC dual meets to East Noble and Carroll, the squad hasn't wilted and actually made a very god showing at The Main Event, Bellmont's Super Dual a couple of weeks ago. The Braves went 2-3 and had a real shot at Mishawaka in a close meet. That resulted in a vote on the coaches poll the next week.
No one has really gloated, at least that I could see, over the Bellmont troubles. Even rival Adams Central, which had been looking for a dual meet win over Bellmont for over 20 years, didn't go overboard with excitement after beating Bellmont at Bellmont earlier this year. They obviously expected to win, and did it.
But the snubbing by the coaches on the state committee, which failed to issue Bellmont an invite to the first state "invitational," after the Braves clawed their way to state 15 times in 17 years, was just not right. Bellmont answered with that 51-27 win over Muncie South, which was invited.
And for those who do enjoy this year, well, they'd better get a belly full of it. Kick 'em when their down, so to speak. It's not going to last long.
After watching the Bellmont Middle School team steamroll three opponents last Saturday, it's safe to say that the talent void will be closed soon, and with some potentially very good young men. Two weeks back, the BMS squad finished second in the state middle school tourney, only to Perry Meridian.
It will be a special group, and with the guys returning from this year it will be a different story next season, and, especially there after.
And that's not surprising. Afterall, it is Bellmont wrestling.