KINGSLAND — A highly-motivated Bellmont wrestling team turned in it's top performance of the season Monday night at Norwell, denying No. 18 East Noble a second consecutive victory over the Braves. With the convincing 37-22 NHC win, Bellmont racked up a second win over a top-20 team in three days, and now leads the series with the Knights 27-1.
"I was very, very pleased with the whole team effort that round. We beat a very solid team," said Bellmont coach Brent Faurote, whose team approached the meet with a definite edge.
Along with the win Saturday over No. 2 Bloomington South at the BHS Main Event, Bellmont has two top-20 scalps, and both South and East Noble participated in the 3A Dual Meet State Tournament nine days ago.
The Braves took care of business against the lesser NHC teams, slamming DeKalb 64-7, and taking out host Norwell 78-6. The Braves are now 11-6 overall and 5-1 in the NHC with only Homestead left on the loop slate. The Spartans will be at Bellmont Wednesday in a make-up match.
From the first match against East Noble, when BHS sophomore Daniel Gunsett yielded only a third-period reversal in a 2-0 loss to two-time state placer Connor Knapp at 120 pounds, to the comeback pin by Mason Mendez against 12th ranked Nate Weimer at 106 pounds, the Braves never gave an inch.
Senior Brock Braun and sophomore Carter Friedt scored key falls, but key late drama in three close matches helped the Braves build the 8-6 advantage in wins that led to the victory.
"Trevor Gray knocks off an outstanding (126) 15-3 kid, and, honestly, they were favored in that match," said Coach Faurote, noting the strong double-leg takedown by the BHS junior in the 3-2 win over Sterling Lutter.
Senior Diego Hutker poured it on in period three of the next match, scoring a reversal and takedown to secure a 4-2 win over Nathan Householder. Later, at 160 pounds, BHS frosh Bryce Baumgartner dived in and got the takedown on East Noble senior Jesse Maley with 10 seconds left in triple-overtime. The Braves just outlasted the Knights.
"We wrestled hard, wrestled tough. The coaches really wanted us to go out there and beat these guys, and we're proud that we were able to do that," stated Braun.
"This was a big accomplishment. We wanted to be ranked, and we got this. We earned back some respect," added Braun, who had slapped on a hard side-cradle at 152 and turned Riley Jones in just 1:15 on a night when pins were hard to come by.
The Baumgartner-Maley bout was a classic brawl, with Maley answering the Bellmont charges with strong defense. It was 1-1 in regulation as Baumgartner could not finish a late shot when he got underneath Maley.
Late in the third OT, Baumgartner shot low again, went on through and popped out on top for the takedown. However, the freshman obviously thought the match was over and nearly yielded what would have been a catastrophic takedown at the buzzer.