No. 11 Mat Braves to open

    Bellmont’s wrestling Braves, rated No. 11 in the preseason Indiana Wrestling Coaches poll, will open their season at Columbia City Tuesday night
in the annual NHC opener. Veteran coach Brent Faurote, beginning his
23rd season at the helm, welcomes back most of his starting lineup after losing just three senior starters through graduation. However, the Braves may start the season without a regular 103-pounder.
    Key returnees include heavyweight Daniel Meyer, fourth in the IHSAA State Wrestling finals last year, and Travis Thatcher, seventh at 189 last year and
he’ll go at 215 pounds for his senior season. State streeter Ryley Hankenson returns, and will bump up a class to 171 pounds this season.
Last year’s 171-pounder, Anthony Stebing, will eventually move down to 152 pounds this year. Senior Will Busse will start out at 152 and will likely
shift down. Senior John Mahlan, a sectional and regional champ last year, shifts up to 160 pounds for Bellmont.
    Bellmont junior Brooks Faurote, who beat several eventual state placers last year, will start out at 140 pounds.
    The Braves have veterans in several lower classes: Jacob Girod moves up to 112,, Bobby Keuneke is at 119 and Blake Adams at 125. Dewey Melcher
will go at 135 pounds.
    Junior Isaac Birch will start out at 215 as a back-up and may go to 189 pounds. Landon Baker, Ben Baker and Brad Busse are fighting for
that spot.
    Sophomore Jacob Bergman, up from the jayvee team, and junior Zach Wetzel are competing for the 145-pound slot. Sophomore Willie Mahlan and
frosh Brock Braun are battling at 130 pounds. Coach Faurote notes he has one wrestler who may shift down to 103.
    “Starting a new streak,” is the theme this year, according to Coach Faurote as the Braves will seek to limit Yorktown’s reign as area regional champs
to one year. The Tigers stopped Bellmont’s 14-year stranglehold on the regional last year, keeping
    Bellmont from the Team State Finals for only the second time in the 15-year history of the event.Bellmont’s team will be profiled in tomorrow’s
Winter Sports Edition.