Cody Walburn may have had a premonition about his first round foe at the 75th annual IHSAA State Wrestling Finals.
"Brandon James finished third at New Castle," Walburn noted Saturday after he finished second at the Fort Wayne Semistate 126-pound division. Seconds and thirds square off Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the preliminary round. Winners move on and place on Saturday, losers head to the seats.
Sure enough, James of Perry Meridian, rated No. 2 in the class, is Walburn's first-round foe Friday. The Falcons' wrestler was beaten in the New Castel semis, 4-3, by Tom Gettinger of Connorsville. Gettinger went on to pin Harvey of Cathedral to win the New Castle tourney. It was James first loss in 34 matches.
Walburn is one of six Adams County wrestlers and one of three Adams Central competitors to earn a state ticket. He made the field two years ago and lost on Friday night.
Walburn roared through the first three rounds this past Saturday, scoring a tech fall and two quick first-period pins. He trailed top-ranked Nick Crume of Jimtown 4-0 going into period three, but ran out of gas and lost 14-0.
Bellmont's Brad Busse had plenty of fuel and earned his second straight semistate crown, taking down Adams Central's Ben Pfister for the third straight week in the title match, this time in 3:35.
Busse, who placed seventh at 182 in last year's state finals, drew 38-6 Seth Riley of Fishers for his Friday night match. Busse is on the same side with Jake Masengale of Perry Meridian, ranked third. Masengale handed Busse one of his two losses this year back in early January.
The top-rated 182-pounder is Matt Hurford of Culver Community, who is the only unbeaten grappler in that class at 44-0. He finished fifth last year and is in the opposite bracket from Busse.
"There are four or five guys who could win that class, and Brad is one of them. It's wide open," said Bellmont coach Brent Faurote.
Pfister will take on fifth-rated Brian Wagner, 38-5, of New Palestine. Second-rated Dakota Thacker of Bloomington South is in Pfister's quarter-bracket.
Adams Central 160-pound sophomore Kaine Luginbill will meet Bloomington South's Seth Seitzinger, 36-7, ranked No. 6, in his first-round match Friday. Riley McClurg, 33-3, of Perry Meridian is in that quarter-bracket.
South Adams sophomore Sawyer Miller, third at Fort Wayne at 113 pounds, will meet a familiar foe, Jack Chastain, 37-1, of Hamilton Southeastern. Miller rated sixth, lost 7-6 to the fifth-rated Chastain earlier this season. Damon Kuhn, 54-2 of Evansville Reitz, is also in that quarter-bracket.
Top-rated Stevan Micic of Hanover Central, a state champ last year, is on Miller's side.
SA Senior LJ Moser, 28-1, will face Warsaw senior Luis Munoz, 26-4, on Friday. No. 7 Bailey Lahue, 38-2, of Corydon Central, is in Moser's quarter-bracket.
"Hopefully, we can learn a little bit of something from our losses Saturday, and we're not going in as fourth placers, so we have winable matches at Bankers Life," stated South Adams coach Eric Myers.
Perry Merdian and Bloomington South both qualified eight while Yorktown and Merrillville will both put seven in action on Friday night. Penn and Warren Central advanced six each.