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  1. #MondayMatness: Family atmosphere, 'next gu...


    Penn has been an IHSAA state championship contender in most years since Brad Harper took over as head coach of the Kingsmen in 2006.

    In 2015, Penn won its first state team title.

    The goal every year is reach the top of the Indiana heap.

    It’s also to grow the program’s reputation in the state and beyond.

    At any given time during the high school season, there are around close to 100 wrestlers striving to get better while also forming a bond.

    “The family atmosphere — that’s huge for us,” Harper said. “That’s why we have 90 kids on the team.

    “We probably have 14 seniors and only three of them start. Why are you letting the seniors stay out? Because they want to be a part of it.”

    Long-time assistant coach Chad Hershberger, a 2000 Penn graduate, hears the word every time the Kingsmen break from a meet or a practice: “Family!”

    “That’s what we are,” Hershberger said. “We are a family from the time we step into that (practice) room until we leave. It’s 24-7, 365.”

    One of Harper’s teammates at Mishawaka High School (Brad won a state title in 1998 and was a state runner-up in 1999) was Mike Cramer, who is now associate pastor at New Life Baptist Church in Osceola.

    Cramer has been coming to Friday practices for years to give motivational talks that relate life to wrestling. Topics include hard work, teamwork, determination and — of course — family.

    Not every athlete buys into the family values that the coaching staff of 20 constantly talks about.

    But most do and thrive because of it.

    They gravitate to coaches like five men who have been at the core of the coaching staff for the past decade — Harper, Hershberger, Dave Manspeaker, Jim Rhoads and Tom Dolly.

    They also go to the many longtime volunteers to learn wrestling technique, but also to be motivated or to just have a friend and role model.

    “We mentor some of these kids,” Hershberger said. “Some of them don’t have much and they just want to be a part of something.”

    So while individuals set their own goals, the team goal is always a high one and everyone is expected to contribute.

    At some schools, they call them “program kids.”

    At Penn, it’s “next guy in.”

    “You’ve got to be ready because you never know when someone is going to go down,” Harper said.

    Getting wrestlers ready to jump into the fire is a schedule that has junior varsity wrestlers taking part in many varsity tournaments.

    “The only way that some of these kids were going to be able to step into that role is to have the varsity experience,” Hershberger said. “Are we always going to win? No. But that’s not what we ask. It’s about getting better and getting that varsity competition so when we do have injuries, that next kid is ready to step in. They are battle-tested.”

    Penn, which placed sixth in Class 3A at the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association State Duals Friday, Dec. 23 in Fort Wayne, also derives success from its feeder program. Three middle schools — Discovery, Grissom and Schmucker are all on the same page with the high school.

    The Penn Wrestling Club begins with pre-kindergarten grapplers and goes all the way through high school, where it’s known as Midwest Extreme Wrestling (MXW) and wrestlers come from all over to take part in national team events.

    It begins with the Kings Kids (Pre-K through First Grade) and goes to the Noble Kingsmen (Grades 2-5) Elite Kingsmen (Grades 2-6) and Black Knights (Grades (6-8) before high school.

    Chad Harper, Brad’s brother and a member of Mishawaka’s 1991 IHSAA team champions, is club’s event coordinator and vice president on the board of directors. He said there are currently 176 active wrestlers though eight grade and there are 40 or more in the high school club.

    When the high schoolers travel to Indiana events, they tend to go as the Penn Wrestling Club. At national tournaments, they tend to represent MXW.

    MXW promotes wrestling regionally, nationally and possibly at the world level.

    “It just makes for a good wrestling room,” Chad Harper said.

    Through fundraising efforts (each wrestler has their own account), club wrestlers travel all over the nation — from Las Vegas to the Fargo Nationals to the Disney Duals in Florida and more.

    “We’re seeing competition nationwide and that’s huge,” Brad Harper said. “Our goal is not just to be good in the state, we want to be No. 1 in the nation.”

    On April 7-8, 2017, PWC and MXW will again host a national dual tournament inside Compton Family Ice Arena at the University of Notre Dame. The 2016 duals — the first wrestling meet on the ND campus since 1992 — drew eight regional teams and the hope for 2017 is 16.

    “We want to grow it every year,” Chad Harper said. “We want to help build up the Notre Dame club.”

    Fran McCann, who helps coach at the high school and club levels at Penn, was the Notre Dame head coach when the school discontinued intercollegiate wrestling.

    Heading into 2016-17, Penn’s single-season leaders were Austin Kunze (217 takedowns in 2009-10), Tim Koch (37 reversals in 1987-88), Alex Gregory (35 pins and 50 wins in 2010-11), Derrick Jones (87 near falls in 1997-98) and Trevor Manspeaker (31 technical falls in 2012-13). Career leaders were Kenny Kaiser (331 takedowns from 1985-88), Tom Ginter (62 reversals from 2002-05), Alex Gregory (102 pins from 2007-11), Jeremiah Maggart (197 near falls from 2004-07), Trevor Manspeaker (93 technical falls from 2012-13) and Zach Davis (169 wins from 2011-14).

    Penn won its first Northern Indiana Conference title in 1980. The Kingsmen went into this season with a five-year streak of NIC crowns.

    • 12/26/2016
    • by Y2CJ41
  2. Injured Hildebrandt keeps head high, eyes anoth...



    IOWA CITY, Iowa — Sarah Hildebrandt’s U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials experience didn’t end the way she wanted.

    Wrestling with a right knee injury (impingement and torn meniscus) that few people knew about heading into the tournament, the Penn High School graduate went 3-2 in the 53 kg (116.5 pounds) bracket Sunday, April 10 at the University of Iowa’s Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

    The former King University grappler was dominant in her three victories, but her losses were by superiority and pin.

    “I actually felt pretty relaxed out there,” Hildebrandt said. “But I didn’t feel comfortable with my knee. I didn’t trust my body. I didn’t trust in my shots. When you have an injury, there’s always a little fear (of pain).

    “(My knee has) been bothering me. It’s really an everyday thing. Some days are better than others. Unfortunately, weight-cutting is part of this sport and running goes along with that. I put some time in on the treadmill — about an hour everyday — and it’s pretty hard on my knees.”

    Like most Olympic hopefuls, Hildebrandt works out multiple times a day and it takes a physical toll and it did on her knee.

    “I knew it could be a problem,” Hildebrandt said. “I just pushed through it and hoped the adrenaline would push me through. At times, it did, and at other times pain won out.”

    Hildebrandt’s day began with a 10-2 win over Cady Chessin. She lost out on a chance at the 2016 Rio Olympics (only the champion advances) with a 10-0 loss to Katherine Fulp-Allen.

    That was followed by two victories — 8-0 over Dajan Treder and pin of Amy Fearnside in 5:44. The day ended with a loss by pin to Michalea Hutchison in 2:44.

    “It’s a huge disappointment,” Hildebrandt said. “I know I had a lot of people cheering for me and supporting me. I wanted to wrestle well for them but for myself as well. Even if I have a bad day, I want to walk off the mat saying I did my best. I don’t feel like that. That’s rough. That’s hard for me to swallow.”

    Brad Harper, Hildebrandt’s coach at Penn, was in her corner at all her Iowa City matches and has continued to be there for her in the five years since she graduated from high school. The Kingsmen’s head coach marveled at her willingness to go hard despite the agony.

    “She said she didn’t do her best, but she did do her best with the situation she was in. To battle through what she had going on was amazing. I went out to the training center (in Colorado Springs, Colo.) and with her workouts, she was in pain at every practice.”

    Hildebrandt, who began her wrestling career at Discovery Middle School in Granger, was full of confidence in the months leading up to Iowa City.

    “I really, really believed in myself,” Hildebrandt said. “I’ve had tournaments where I didn’t believe in myself and losing didn’t sting as much. I definitely think I can be the best in the world.”

    Hildebrandt’s immediate plans call for knee surgery then quality family time and some relaxation.

    “I’d like to go somewhere warm and sit on the beach,” Hildebrandt said.

    But she won’t stay away from the sport she loves and still has Olympic dreams.

    “I love the sport,” Hildebrandt said. “I have lotta lotta fun with it. This was not as fun as some other days. But I’ll always crave getting back in the mat room.”

    The 22-year-old hopes to take a shot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and all that entails.

    “I’ve worked so hard and nothing’s going to change. I’ll just keep striving and burning the fire in my belly.”

    Harper believes in Hildebrandt’s mat future.

    “She just needs to get healthy and train smarter,” Harper said. “She needs to just keep getting better day by day. When 2020 comes, she will dominate.”

    And as for 2016?

    “I’m still an American and I want to help my team,” Hildebrandt said. “I know it will be a quick turn-around, but if I can get in there and help the girls on the Olympic team, I would love to.”

    • 04/11/2016
    • by Y2CJ41
  3. #MondayMatness: Hildebrandts Working Towards th...


    A bond shared between siblings is a big part of why they are among the top wrestlers in their realm — big sister at the national and international level and little brother near the top of the high school pinnacle.

    Sarah Hildebrandt, 22, is a member of Team USA and trying to earn a spot for the 2016 Rio Olympics. The 2011 Penn High School graduate, just completed a national team training camp in Iowa City, Iowa, the site of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling on April 9-10. She is among those going for spots at 53 kg (116.8 pounds).

    Drew Hildebrandt, 18, is coming off a runner-up IHSAA State Finals finish at 113 pounds and a key role in Penn’s 2014-15 team state championship. Now a senior, the Central Michigan University-bound grappler is currently ranked No. 1 in his weight class in Indiana at 120 and was just named MVP of the Northern Indiana Conference for the NIC team champions.

    Sarah will have an overseas tour and a few tournaments leading up to the Olympic Trials. One is scheduled for the weekend of the IHSAA State Finals, Feb. 19-20, in Indianapolis.

    “Yo! I’m not going to that,” Sarah stated emphatically while visiting family for the holidays and watching her brother compete during break from training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. “I’ve got to see my little brother.”

    Sarah, who got to coach from the corner at Mishawaka High School while her bro won an Al Smith Classic title in late December, is close to all her family members (Chris and Nancy have four children — Cory, Sarah, Amy and Drew).

    But the lofty wrestling goals and shared mat experiences have brought Sarah and Drew even closer.
    “We keep in touch (texts and phone calls etc.),” Sarah said. “We send each other silly stuff all the time. But before a competition, he will say, ‘I love you. You’re a beast.’ Drew knows I can do this. He’s been in this position. He trains with me. He knows me.

    “I love to hear from him . He’ll say, ‘Sarah, you’ve got this. Keep going.’ At the end of the tournament, he’ll say ‘I’m so proud of you.’”

    Through training and listening, Drew has benefitted from Sarah’s experience as a top grappler at King University and with the national team.

    Drew has adopted Sarah’s front headlock and slide-by to his bag of tricks.

    “People say, ‘you have a nasty slide-by’ and I say, ‘I learned it from my sister,’” Drew said.

    As a wrestler elementary school, Drew would get almost sick from anxiety before every match. With plenty of time in the spotlight since, that is no longer an issue.

    But Drew and Sarah do have anxious moments.

    “When she’s wrestling, I’m twice as nervous as when I’m wrestling and when I’m wrestling, she’s twice as nervous,” Drew said.

    On breaks from the national team — like the one in December — Sarah came into the practice room and shared her knowledge with all the Kingsmen, including head coach Brad Harper and his staff.

    “With the moves she shows us, she really focuses on the little things,” Drew said. “It’s more about the neutral position since she really doesn’t do bottom of top.”

    Harper, who started at Penn the same season as Sarah in 2007-08, appreciates the technician that she has become.

    “I told her back then that if she was going compete against boys, her technique and positioning had to be perfect,” Harper said. “She has taken that to heart. It has shown. She has even taken it to the next level.”

    Harper, a former standout at Mishawaka High School and Purdue University who has continued to coach Sarah past her high school days, said attention to detail is what she will need to have to earn a spot for Rio.

    “It’s about a lot of reps and a lot of practice and knowing you’re ready,” Harper said. “It’s hitting things over and over and over. That makes her makes her a great technician. She realizes her weaknesses and strengths.”

    Sarah said its her perfectionist tendencies that help her make adjustments and gives her confidence on the mat.

    “I love to just drill,” Sarah said. “Everybody knows I have a headlock and everybody knows I have a slide-by. Everyone in the country knows and people on the other side of the world know. But they don’t know the corrections I am making.”

    Sarah has also worked on her quickness.

    “I am a very heavy-footed wrestler,” Sarah said. “I’ve really focused on moving my feet, elevating the pace and moving in and out. The first time I executed it, people came up to me and said, ‘wow! you look like a different wrestler.’”

    Making Sarah and other Penn athletes better wrestlers is what Harper strives to do, not only with the teaching of technique, but with his encouragement.

    “That’s my secret sauce, it’s all about motivation,” Harper said. “I try to keep them focused on the ultimate goal.”

    With his current Penn grapplers — like Drew — that goal is individual and team championships.
    For Sarah, it’s an Olympic dream.

    Harper, who was in Las Vegas on a Friday night when Sarah qualified for the Olympic Trials and with his Penn team the next morning for a tournament in early December, likes to send motivational quotes.

    A recent one to the Hildebrandts came from legendary Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

    The quote read: “It’s not the will to win that matters — everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”

    The Harpers know Sarah as an athlete, but are very close with the whole Hildebrandt family. Sarah, best friend and national team training partner Jenna (Burkert) Lowry and others could be seen with Brad and wife Christina’s daughter and son — Mackenzie, 2, and Deuel, 5 months — at the Al Smith Classic.

    As a motivator and accountability partner, Harper watches film of Sarah and gives pointers. He talks to her about her diet (she has gone down a weight class), her training and her mental game.

    “We talk everyday,” Sarah said. “He’ll ask me, ‘have you visualized today?’”

    Dropping down to 53 kg (about four pounds lighter than her previous class and her lowest weight since high school), Sarah made a total change to her routine.

    “I took the cut very, very seriously,” Sarah said. “I probably started three months out. I complete changed my diet, my cardio and my lifting.”

    She continued with wrestling workouts five days a week (twice a day three times) and went from 20 to 40 minutes of running on the treadmill and a sauna session each day.

    Then a funny thing happened.

    “The day of weigh-in, I was being nice to people. It was a whole new experience,” Sarah said. “(When cutting weight,) I can get a little cranky. I love being down at the other weight. I feel like I can move better.”

    While running back in northern Indiana, she noticed how training at 6,000 feet above sea level in Colorado helps.

    “I was running 2 to 3 mph faster here,” Sarah said.

    It has been quite a run for the Hildebrandts and that run still has miles to go.

    Here is a link to a previous story on Sarah Hildebrandt


    • 01/25/2016
    • by Y2CJ41
  4. Penn's team, Lowell's Drew Hughes win f...


    Five Penn wrestlers made it to the championship mat and helped the Kingsmen take the team title at Mishawaka High School’s famed Al Smith Classic for the fourth straight time.

    Seniors Drew Hildebrandt (22-0 at 120 pounds) and Kobe Woods (12-0 at 220) were winners and junior Kory Cavanaugh (21-2 at 106) and seniors Austin Slates (20-1 at 113) and Cameron Beam (19-4 at 145) were both runners-up in helping Penn hoist the hardware at Mishawaka for the fifth time in six years.

    “This was the most grinding,” Kingsmen coach Brad Harper said. “There were no easy matches.”

    While Woods won at 220, Hildebrandt, placed second at 113 at the 2015 IHSAA State Finals. He is taking it up a notch or two this winter.

    “I’m trying to open up a lot more,” Hildebrandt said. “I want to be more aggressive this year. I was second last year. There’s more to get.”

    U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier Sarah Hildebrandt helped coach her brother along with Harper.

    “It’s pretty nice,” Drew Hildebrandt said. “Sometimes I hear her and say that’s not coach Harper and coach (Chad Hershberger).”

    Penn, which took its first IHSAA team title last February at Bankers Life Fieldhosue in Indianapolis, tuned up for the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association State Duals (the event is Saturday, Jan. 2, at Fort Wayne’s Memorial Coliseum) by amassing 226 points. Rounding out the top five were Portage (191), Columbus East (150), Lawrence North (149) and Merrillville (136).

    The 32-team event wrapped up its two-day run and 37th year Wednesday, Dec. 30, with Lowell senior Drew Hughes (23-0 at 170) taking MVP honors (he pinned all five of his opponents in 6:50) and his fourth Al Smith Classic individual title.

    “I was sick Monday,” Hughes said. “It was about getting on and off the mat. I had to take care of business.”

    With a pile of early pin falls, Hughes said he has not wrestled in a third period yet this season.

    Senior Steven Lawrence (16-0 at 152) was a champion for Portage. The Indian is ranked No. 1 at his weight.

    Freshman Cayden Rooks (18-1 at 106) took a title for Columbus East. The Olympian is ranked No. 8. His last two wins Wednesday came against No. 4 Tanner DeMien (at NorthWood sophomore) and No. 3 Cavanaugh of Penn.

    Two Merrillville senior athletes — Jacob Covaciu (18-0 at 160) and Shawn Streck (21-0 at heavyweight) — were winners. The Pirates are both ranked No. 1 and coming off state titles in 2015 (Covaciu at 145 and Streck at heavyweight).

    A pair of Danville senior grapplers — Brock Hudkins (24-0 at 126) and Elliott Molloy (23-0 at 132) — took top honors back-to-back. Hudkins ranks No. 1 at 126 and Molloy No. 2 to three-time state champion Chad Red of New Palestine at 132.

    With his best move — the “blast double” — not paying off Wednesday, Molloy focused on continuous movement and said it benefitted both he and Hudkins that they are Warrior workout partners.

    “We are like brothers,” Molloy said. “He’s gotten a lot better at neutral. He keeps moving and gets a lot of points. He’s better on top, too. He can take someone down and finish them.”

    Three other first-placers came from The Region in Lowell junior Colton Cummings (23-0 at 113), Chesterton junior Andrew Davison (18-0 at 182) and Lake Central senior Jake Kleimola (20-0 at 195). Cummings is ranked No. 1 in his weight class while Davision is No. 2 and Kleimola No. 3.

    Jimtown junior Kenny Kerrn (145) turned up the intensity and took his weight class with father, Mishawaka graduate and IHSWCA Hall of Famer Mark Kerrn (Jimtown’s head coach) in his corner. The unranked wrestler who began the season at 152 said recent ramping up in practice was helpful for him at this tournament.

    “We’ve been working really hard in practice this past week,” Kerrn said. “We’ve got (IHSWCA) Team State coming up (Saturday in Fort Wayne). I’ve been practiced with (former Jimtown state champion) Nick Crume and (former Jimtown state runner-up) Colin Crume and athletes.”


    (At Mishawaka)

    Team scores (final): Penn 226, Portage 191, Columbus East 150, Lawrence North 149, Bellmont 146, Merrillville 136, Lowell 134, Prairie Heights 132, Chesterton 129, Fort Wayne Carroll 121.5, Jimtown 117, Garrett 114, South Bend Riley 104.5, Elkhart Memorial 103.5, Center Grove 98.5, Hobart 87.5, Lawrence Central 86.5, Danville 77.5, South Bend Adams 77.5, Zionsville 77, Peru 73, Goshen 69, Mishawaka 69, NorthWood 69, Warsaw 55, Princeton 48, LaPorte 42, Munster 40, Rochester 28, Calumet 25, West Noble 15.5.

    Championship Summary

    106 — Cayden Rooks (Columbus East) dec. Kory Cavanaugh (Penn) 8-3. 113 — Colton Cummings (Lowell) dec. Austin Slates (Penn) 5-0. 120 — Drew Hildebrandt (Penn) maj. dec. Graham Rooks (Columbus East) 12-4. 126 — Brock Hudkins (Danville) dec. Gaige Torres (Portage) 7-1. 132 — Elliott Molloy (Danville) pinned Brendan Black (Hobart) 4:23. 138 — Kyle Hatch (Warsaw) dec. Jason Crary (Munster) 3-0. 145 — Kenny Kerrn (Jimtown) maj. dec. Cameron Beam (Penn) 14-3.

    152 — Steven Lawrence (Portage) pinned Doug Levitz (Prairie Heights) 3:11. 160 — Jacob Covaciu (Merrillville) dec. Tavonte Malone (South Bend Adams) 9-2. 170 — Drew Hughes (Lowell) pinned Bryce Baumgartner (Bellmont) 1:24. 182 — Andrew Davison (Chesterton) dec. Cameron Jones (Lawrence North) 6-2. 195 — Jake Kleimola (Lake Central) dec. Erik Hobbs (Peru) 5-0. 220 — Kobe Woods (Penn) dec. Derek Paz (Goshen) 3-2. Hwt — Shawn Streck (Merrillville) tech. fall Ethan Bunce (Lawrence Central) 24-9.

    Consolation Summary

    106 — Tanner DeMien (NorthWood) pinned Brayden Shearer (Garrett) 1:26. 113 — Colin Poynter (Portage) dec. Jake Schoenegge (Columbus East) 3-1. 120 — Mason Mendez (Bellmont) dec. Isaac Castro (Lawrence North) 7-3. 126 — Marcus Mejia (Elkhart Memorial) dec. Michael DeLaPena (Merrillville) 6-3. 132 — Daniel Gunsett (Bellmont) dec. Jack Tolin (Chesterton) 5-2. 138 — Kris Rumph (Portage) dec. Riley Rasler (Prairie Heights) 6-4. 145 — Austen Laughlin (South Bend Riley) maj. dec. Logan Coyle (Center Grove) 13-4.

    152 — Denzyl Prentice (Penn) dec. Diego Lemley (Chesterton) 6-4. 160 — Jarod Swank (Penn) dec. Jordan Rader (Peru) 6-2. 170 — Tristan Goering (South Bend Riley) dec. Ricky Samuels (Lawrence North) 8-5. 182 — David Eli (Elkhart Memorial) pinned Isaac James (Lowell) 1:39. 195 — Lucas Davison (Chesterton) dec. Michael Leonard (NorthWood) 5-1. 220 — Maliq Carr (Lawrence North) dec. Tyler McKeever (Fort Wayne Carroll) 10-3. Hwt — Sean Galligar (Columbus East) dec. Robert Samuels (Lawrence North) 3-2.

    MVP: Drew Hughes (Lowell), five pins in 6:50.

    Other placers

    106 — 5th, Brock Peele (Portage); 6th, Lucas Finger (Lowell); 7th, Fernando Flores (Goshen); 8th, John Gobeyn (Zionsville).

    113 — 5th, Christian Mejia (Elkhart Memorial); 6th, Matt Gimson (Jimtown); 7th, Kyler Mckinney (Princeton); 8th, Joey Zahl (South Bend Adams).

    120 — 5th, Azariah Ellis (Zionsville); 6th, Joel Byman (Fort Wayne Carroll); 7th, Datrion Vaughn (Lawrence Central); 8th, Dylan DeMarco (Garrett).

    126 — 5th, Ryan Hardesty (Mishawaka); 6th, Jon Becker (Bellmont); 7th, Dawson Combest (Columbus East); 8th, Zane Standridge (Fort Wayne Carroll)

    132 — 5th, Preston Risner (Mishawaka); 6th, Cody Crary (Munster); 7th, David Roth (Center Grove); 8th, Kameron Hile (Warsaw).

    138 — 5th, Jacy Leon (Hobart); 6th, Trace Manspeaker (Penn); 7th, Anthony Williams (Center Grove); 8th, Malik Hoover (Merrillville).

    145 — 5th, Chase Wilson (Princeton); 6th, Kasper McIntosh (Portage); 7th, Dante Colza (Hobart); 8th, DeShawn Bayless (Peru).

    152 — 5th, Tavris Evans (South Bend Adams); 6th, Kassius Breathitt (South Bend Riley); 7th, Peyton Sturgill (Peru); 8th, Lucas Scott (Lowell).

    160 — 5th, Tony Busse (Bellmont); 6th, Josh Garman (Fort Wayne Carroll); 7th, Jed Levitz (Prairie Heights); 8th, Austin Wilson (Columbus East)

    170 — 5th, Ismael Cornejo (Portage); 6th, Steven Trammell (Lawrence Central); 7th, Jonah Hays (Center Grove); 8th, Coy Park (Columbus East).

    182 — 5th, Joey Blakeley (Prairie Heights); 6th, Caleb Hankenson (Bellmont); 7th, Cameron Simmons (Lawrence Central); 8th, Rhett Mappes (Center Grove).

    195 — 5th, Beck Davis (Garrett); 6th, Jarod Hayes (Jimtown); 7th, Jake Grossnickle (Fort Wayne Carroll); 8th, Nate Williams (Elkhart Memorial).

    220 5th, Blake Davis (Garrett); 6th, Andrew Brock (Warsaw); 7th, Cory Heinrichs (Center Grove); 8th, Dan Mochen (Chesterton).

    Hwt — 5th, Givoni Murillo (Portage); 6th, Braxton Amos (Prairie Heights); 7th, Jessie Lawson (Fort Wayne Carroll); 8th, Scott Fuller (Zionsville)

    MVP: Drew Hughes (Lowell), five pins in 6:50.

    • 12/30/2015
    • by Y2CJ41
  5. #MondayMatness Woods Excelling on the Mat and G...




    It makes some athletes wilt and others rise to the occasion.

    Put Kobe Woods in the latter category.

    Coming off an IHSAA championship season (he went 44-0 as a junior, beating Warren Central senior Courvoisier Morrow 7-2 in the 220-pound state title match while helping the Kingsmen to a first-ever team state championship), Woods continues to crave challenges inside the wrestling circle and on the football field.

    “What makes Kobe tick?,” says Penn wrestling coach Brad Harper. “He loves competition. He thrives off of that.”

    Penn football coach Cory Yeoman, who counts Woods among his inside linebackers on a squad bound for the IHSAA Class 6A championship game against Center Grove on Saturday, Nov. 28, sees the same kind of attributes in the 5-foot-11 athlete.

    “He competes at the highest level no matter what he’s doing and that’s a great trait of champions,” says Yeoman of the three-year football starter. “He does have great balance, leverage and strength. He is explosive. But by far, his best attribute is how he competes. There’s a lot of great athletes in the world, but they don’t all compete.”

    Woods has committed to compete at the next level. He recently signed to wrestle at Purdue University, where he expects to be a prospect at 197, and may also get a chance to walk on to the Boilermakers football team.

    If Woods plays Big Ten football, he will join roommate-to-be and athletic Merrillville High School senior heavyweight Shawn Streck in competing in both sports.

    Woods credits his atmosphere as well as his natural drive for his multi-sport success in high school.

    “Being in the atmosphere of Penn High School it’s really kind of motivating everyday,” says Woods. “You’re not really the big shot. The stakes are so high and the talent is so good at Penn, it’s awesome to know that if you stop working hard, if you start slacking, there’s someone there to take your spot.”

    It boils down to effort for the future Boiler.

    “It really comes down to how hard you want to work,” says Woods. “As an athlete, everyday I want to get a little bit better. That’s really my goal.

    “If you get a little bit better everyday, pretty soon you’re going to be pretty good.”

    Harper says it is rare to find an athlete who likes pressure situations.

    Woods excels in these tense scenarios because he is not overwhelmed by the chaos.

    “That’s why he’s been so successful,” says Harper, who first saw Woods crack the Penn varsity lineup at 220 as a 190-pound freshman. “He knows how to control his emotions.

    “He’s very calm,” says Harper. “He’s very focused. He’s very relaxed. He doesn’t get overhyped. Sometimes kids get a little too hyped or angry and let their emotions take over.”

    Penn’s wrestling title run included plenty of mental exercises as well as practice room moves.

    Woods prospered on the visualization drills.

    His refusal to give up in a wrestling match or on a given football play also makes Woods exceptional.

    “You can’t have plays off (in football),” says Yeoman. “Every now and then you’re in a bad position. You’ve got a choice to quit or keep going and do something special. Some guys give in, but Kobe never does. He just makes plays.”

    Woods says it does not make sense to stop on a play since that just might be the play where the opponent coughs up and a defender needs to be ready to seize that opportunity.

    Yeoman says one way to grade a player’s worth is his ability to handle adversity.

    Like his solid B classroom average, Woods grades high on persistence.

    “He never backs down,” says Yeoman his defensive signal caller. “There’s no moping on the sideline (after a are bad sequence). There’s not time for that. You can do something about it. That’s what he wants to do.”

    Woods is also not afraid of leaving the comfort zone. In fact, he likes to do that during wrestling practice to extend his knowledge of the sport.

    “That way I can push my levels when I’m actually competing,” says Woods.

    Woods has come along way since his days of giving up 30 pounds and sometimes three years to his opponent while making it all the way to the IHSAA State Finals as a freshman.

    “That was really fun,” says Woods of the challenging experience. “That is really what did it for me. At some point I said, ‘I don’t care if you’re older, I don’t care if you’re stronger, I’m just going to go out and wrestle.’

    “Looking back, it was a benefit for me. I’ve really grown from that.”

    • 11/23/2015
    • by Y2CJ41
  6. 2015 State Finals Preview

    Chad Hollenbaugh
    IndianaMat Senior Writer

    Cathedral Looks to Repeat, Red to Three-Peat

    A number of great storylines accompany this weekend’s festivities in Indianapolis at the 2015 IHSAA State Wrestling finals. The incredibly deep 120 weight class should have outstanding matches starting early Friday evening and contains this year’s most compelling in season rivalry between Jeremiah Reitz of Griffith and Brendan Black of Hobart. The 170 pound class is wide open with five to six wrestlers that can legitimately make a run for the top of the podium and the heavyweight bracket contains three Division One athletes at the top of the rankings.
    Although all three of these stories will quite compelling, two other stories have a special appeal. The team race currently has Penn High School in the pole position but last year’s champ, Indianapolis Cathedral, has the pieces in place to repeat should Penn falter. Other teams that should be in contention include Perry Meridian, Warren Central, Yorktown, and Avon.
    The second major story will be the Chad Red show. Unbeaten in his first two seasons of high school, Red is a heavy favorite to continue his dominance and win a third straight state championship. If anyone was unsure of just how great Red is, Cael Sanderson’s recent visit to New Palestine should remove any doubts. In his junior season, Red is currently ranked first in the country by Flo Wrestling and number three by Intermat. Much like Stevan Micic last year and Jason Tsirtsis before him, Red appears to be that type of wrestler that seems to be destined to be a factor at the next level.


    This year’s crop of flyweights contain the usual high number of new faces (9 freshmen) that look to make their bones on the Banker’s Life floor. Columbus East semi-state champ Graham Rooks, Hobart’s Tylor Triana and Avon’s Mason Miranda are the frosh poised to make the deepest run in this bracket.


    COLTON CUMMINGS – LOWELL (41-1). Cummings will look to erase his Friday night memory of last year where he was pinned by Columbia City’s Hunter Langeloh in fifty nine seconds. Cummings has been nothing short of dominant (He has a win over Rooks) this year with his only loss coming while wrestling two weight classes up against Perry Meridian’s David Clayton.


    JON ANDERSON – LAFAYETTE JEFF (47-2) and CAINAN SCHAEFER – SOUTH DEARBORN (45-2). Anderson was a surprise runner up at Merrillville where he looked very solid against competition with more press clippings. Schaefer wrestles in the southeast corner of the state and gets very little press but he had a break out performance at the New Castle semi state where he pinned highly regarded Klayton Anderson of Hamilton Southeastern. These two hard chargers may meet Saturday morning with a trip to the semis on the line.


    TYLOR TRIANA – HOBART (37-4) VS. MASON MIRANDA (20-5) – The winner here has a great opportunity to make a run to the finals. Triana is the higher ranked wrestler (5th vs 9th) but Miranda is wrestling very well and his team is in the hunt for state hardware.

    DRINKING THE MILK – Cummings.

    East Noble’s Garrett Pepple has established himself as a force in this weight class but there is also outstanding depth here. Pepple season started with an All-American run at the pre-season Super 32 (4th) and has not been seriously tested. He currently holds top ten rankings nationally by both Flo and Intermat. Last year’s state runner up at 106, Paul Konrath of Mount Vernon seems to be wrestling with a bum leg but dominated the field at the Evansville semi state. Others looking to rain on Pepple’s parade include Hamilton Southeastern’s Austin Holmes, Penn’s undefeated Drew Hildebrandt and Fairfield’s Blake Glogouski (who has only lost to Pepple).


    GARRETT PEPPLE – EAST NOBLE (42-0). All the pieces seem to be in place for the Indiana recruit. Pepple has experience (two runner-up finishes), training (teammate Conner Knapp and coach Andy Uhl), and confidence. If anyone were to topple Pepple, it would be considered a fairly substantial upset.


    BLAKE GLOGOUSKI – FAIRFIELD (49-2). Glogouski was knocked out in the ticket round last year but don’t be surprised if he has an outstanding weekend. The Falcon does have a brutal draw which might include Paul Konrath and Drew Hildebrandt to go along with Friday night’s tussle with New Pal’s Alec White.


    ALEC WHITE – NEW PALESTINE (40-4) VS. BLAKE GLOGOUSKI. White was one of the favorites to win the New Castle semi state but was pinned by Cathedral’s Skylour Turner in the semis. This set up the Friday night fight with Glogouski who finished second at Fort Wayne to Pepple.


    This insanely deep class will be one of the best to watch starting on Friday night. Nearly a half dozen different wrestlers have a legitimate shot at taking the crown. Top ranked Breyden Bailey of Cathedral is undefeated and has won a couple of close matches with contender Cornelious Elliot of Perry Meridian. The state’s best in season rivalry between Brendan Black of Hobart and Jeremiah Reitz of Griffith could be played out one more time under the lights.


    BREYDEN BAILEY – CATHEDRAL (43-0). Bailey has run the table this season and Cathedral’s schedule is no joke. Hobart’s Black is as hot as any wrestler in the state right now. No easy draws in this bracket.


    TYLER FERGUSON – EVANSVILLE REITZ (10-2). Ferguson has a fifth place medal from last year and started the year ranked first. He has been out of action for most of the season and many thought a comeback was not in the cards. This Panther certainly has the skills to sound that siren.


    BRENDAN BLACK – HOBART (30-3) VS. WILL EGLI – MATER DEI (29-4). Two medalists match up on Friday night in this battle. Other Friday night matches between returning medalists include Elliot vs. Langeloh and Ferguson vs. Reitz. Wow!


    Whereas there was no front runner at 120, the 126 class is about as sure bet as any class this weekend. Chad Red of New Palestine has shown no weaknesses in his game. On his feet, Red dominates. On the mat, Red dominates. He is the complete package. The drama here is who will Red meet in the finals. Portage’s Gaige Torres, Perry Meridian’s Ngun Uk, East Noble’s Nathan Weimer and Cathedral frosh Zach Melloh all could be under the lights.

    POLE POSITION – CHAD RED – NEW PALESTINE (43-0). Red….’Nuff said.


    ZACH MELLOH – CATHEDRAL (36-7). Don’t call him Melloh Yellow, this Irish freshman has flown under the radar but has wrestled tough all season and run to the semi-finals is not out of the question.


    BRANDON TRUVER – LAKE CENTRAL (29-10) VS. DANIEL GUNSETT –BELMONT (32-9). Nineteen losses between these two does not mean either caught a break or were lucky in some way to qualify. These are two high quality kids that can beat anyone in the bracket not named Red.


    Handicapping this bracket is much like the 126 bracket. All you have to do is substitute Mater Dei’s Nick Lee for Chad Red. Lee has been every bit as dominating as Red. The only difference is that Lee ran into the top wrestler in the country at 126 last year in Stevan Micic and finished third. The other side of the bracket offers up a few potential finalists in East Noble’s Conner Knapp, and Griffin Schermer of Bloomington South.


    NICK LEE – MATER DEI (31-0). Lee is currently ranked 4th and 6th in country by Intermat and Flo. He had to spend less than six minutes on the mat last Saturday in winning his second semi state crown. He should not be seriously tested this weekend. He IS that good.


    SAGE COY – DELTA (39-1). Coy has had a series of unfortunate events during his first two high school seasons and his move from the closed down Muncie South to Delta has brought better luck. Coy brings a high energy attack that should be highly entertaining to watch this weekend.


    CONNER KNAPP – EAST NOBLE (41-2) VS. AUSTIN BETHAL – MT. VERNON (37-4). Bethal shocked the state with his stunning pin of super frosh and second ranked Brayton Lee of Brownsburg. Standing in his path on Friday night is veteran stud Conner Knapp of East Noble. Knapp already has two state medals on his resume. Honorable mention goes to Westfield’s Evan Eldred vs. Merrillville semi state champ, Austen Laughlin of South Bend Riley.


    A third straight class where one wrestler stands above the field. Amazingly, that wrestler is not returning state champion Tommy Cash but it is Perry Meridian’s Brandon James. James has three top-5 medals to his name and national rankings of 9th and 12th. You can’t count out returning champ Cash even though he has been beaten a couple of times by James. Out of the south is freshman Joe Lee, who has taken down James earlier in the season during his only loss. Clarence Johnson of Merrillville is wrestling awesome right now and Maldonado Magic always seems to strike during the state finals weekend.


    BRANDON JAMES – PERRY MERIDIAN (41-0). James has been a formidable force in the Falcon line up and a threat to win a state title since his freshman season. The stars seem to be aligned for Coach Tonte’s star grappler this season. He will be relaxed, focused and motivated to win his first title on Saturday night.


    KYLE TODRANK – GIBSON SOUTHERN (43-3). Todrank is largely unknown but has progressed tremendously the past couple of years. He has wrestled Mater Dei super frosh Joe Lee tough the last couple of weeks.


    KASPER McINTOSH – PORTAGE (29-9) VS. CLAYTON MOORE – MANCHESTER (35-1). A four over one potential upset lurks here. Both are big and physical 138s who will mix it up. McIntosh is a freshman who wrestles one of the toughest schedules in the state. Moore is a returning qualifier from a small school where he rarely is tested.


    We finally have a weight class where there is real drama involved. A nice Duneland conference rivalry has developed between returning runner up Jacob Covaciu of Merrillville and returning medalist Steven “Bam” Lawrence of Portage. Covaciu has a win over New Castle champ Trenton Pruitt of Warren Central on his resume. It’s strange to say but Yorktown’s Cael McCormick has kept a fairly low profile despite a dominating season where he often wrestled up a class. It would not be a huge upset if he were to topple Covaciu in the semi-finals.


    JACOB COVACIU – MERRILLVILLE (40-1). Despite his loss in the semi state championship match, Covaciu still has to be considered the front-runner in this class. Lawrence and McCormick are not that far back.


    ANDREW HERRIN – JENNINGS COUNTY (46-2) – Herrin wrestled awesome last weekend at semi state. He avenged one of his regular season losses with a win over Castles Patrick Schnell. Along the way he put the hammer to Mater Dei’s Blake Jourdan. A deep state run would not be out of the question.


    EVAN SMILEY – BEECH GROVE (39-5) VS. ANTHONY VAUGHN – ELKHART MEMORIAL (40-3). Two stud seniors will face off on Friday night. Both have been previous state qualifiers and appear to be evenly matched. Expect a very tight match here.

    DRINKING THE MILK – McCormick.

    Tommy Forte of Mishawaka is the wrestler to beat at 152. He has not been tested this season and I would be surprised if anyone gives him much resistance this weekend. Tommy’s knee is a little dinged up but it doesn’t show and he cruised to the semi state title last weekend. The other side of the bracket holds a few potential finalists in Yorktown’s Dru Berkebile, Lebanon’s Kellen VanCamp, and Forte’s conference rival Jarod Swank of Penn. Evansville Central’s Isiah Kemper deserves mention as he is a three time state qualifier.


    TOMMY FORTE – MISHAWAKA (33-0). Forte is ranked 9th and 15th respectively by Intermat and Flo. He is wrestling next year for Buffalo and former coach Bryce Hasseman. It would be a huge upset if anyone were to beat Forte this year.


    MARQUIS SCHIEBER – JIMTOWN (30-8). I saw Schieber wrestle during a couple of mid-season tournaments and frankly was quite disappointed. He looked disinterested and ready for it to end. After watching him at his conference meet, I saw a rebirth. Athletic and skilled this Jimmie is a difficult match up for anyone and has great momentum going into the state meet.


    ELIJAH DUNN – INDIAN CREEK (42-2) VS. JAROD SWANK – PENN (32-5). A contrast of styles between the funky Dunn and the controlled, methodical Swank should prove interesting. It will likely come down to who can impose their will on the other.


    Another weight class where the state’s top ranked wrestler also has national credentials and rankings on his resume. Lowell’s Drew Hughes is a favorite to become Lowell’s second state champ in 2015, joining Colton Cummings. He wrestled under the lights as a frosh and got spladled by Ty Fleenor last year on Saturday morning. Experience and motivation along with an unparalled ability to turn guys on top make Hughes a tough package to deal with.


    HUGHES – LOWELL (40-0). A clear front runner but must face Edgewood’s Gabe Koontz in the quarter finals and possible Delta’s Jacob Gray, Avon’s Brandon Helm or local rival Darden Schurg from Crown Point in the finals.


    TRISTAN GOERING – SOUTH BEND RILEY (37-11). Goering got an absolute great draw for a fourth place finisher and has a good chance to reach the semi-finals for coach Bill Flatt and the Wildcats.


    ADAM DODSON – JOHN GLENN (36-2) VS. ETHAN BRIGGEMAN – CARDINAL RITTER (36-4). Two evenly matched senior studs from lesser known programs make this an interesting matchup. Each will be fighting to get on that podium and wrestle on day two.


    The furious five (Stevenson, Lydy, Jackson, Harvey, Mammolenti) became the splendid six after watching the Google Hangout with state’s ‘experts’. I am convinced that Lawrence North’s Cameron Jones has the goods to challenge for a title as well. It did appear that returning state champ Jacob Stevenson might have seriously injured his leg at semi-state. Let’s all hope he can end his high school career on the mat.


    DYLAN LYDY – BEN DAVIS (42-0). Lydy has wins over Stevenson, Jones and Dillon Jackson of Yorktown. This is just enough to edge Ben Harvey of Cathedral as the pre meet favorite. The top tier here is incredibly close and this should be one of the marquee weights to watch because just about any results are possible.


    CAMERON JONES – LAWRENCE NORTH (38-6) – If things fall right for Jones, he could find himself wrestling under the lights. However it shakes out, Jones has clearly put himself in position to be a serious state title threat as a senior next year.


    ISHMAEL CORNEJO – PORTAGE (29-7) VS. JACOB STEVENSON (34-6). Keep an eye on this match to see how last year’s state champ Jacob Stevenson is wrestling on his injured leg. He can’t expect any sympathy from Portage’s Cornejo.


    Penn’s Chase Osborn is a returning state runner up and has been ranked #1 all season. That should make him the favorite to take home title but I have seen probably more variety of picks in this weight class than any other. Western’s Corey Hinkle, Chesterton’s Andrew Davison, Avon’s Evan Elmore and Lawrenceburg’s Mason Parris are all receiving some love as potential state champions. Osborn and Hinkle have the most experience, Elmore is coming in hot, and both Davison and Parris represent the future will be filled with great upper weight wrestling.


    CHASE OSBORN – PENN (35-0). As mentioned before, Osborn has experience under the lights and an unblemished record this year. This adds up to a number 1 ranking and front runner status.


    GAGE GARPOW – WINAMAC (37-3). Garpow was one of the big surprises of the Merrillville semi state. He had Osborn on the ropes in their match up and dominated state ranked Jake Kliemola of Lake Central.


    CONNER JAMES – RONCALLI (44-1) VS. ANDREW DAVISON – CHESTERTON (38-2). An absolutely brutal Friday night matchup between two wrestlers with three losses between them. The winner will get the honor of facing Western’s undefeated Corey Hinkle. A nasty quarter bracket.

    DRINKING THE MILK – Davison.

    This is one of the few brackets that should hold chalk through the semi-finals with all four semi state champs winning. That does not mean that the winner is in much question at this weight class. Cathedral’s junior Blake Rypel season has been every bit as dominating as Chad Red or Nick Lee. He is just too explosive for anyone to handle in the state of Indiana. Mooresville’s Randy Scott, Perry Meridian’s Tristan Tonte and Yorktown’s Myron Howard will battle it out for the chance to meet Rypel under the lights.


    BLAKE RYPEL – CATHEDRAL (43-0). Rypel has the skills to lap the field here. Ranked seventh by Flo and tenth by Intermat, no one should challenge Rypel this weekend.


    TANNER BRADLEY – MISHAWAKA (26-4). Much like Sampson, there is much power in the hair of Tanner Bradley. Don’t get mesmerized by the mullet, Bradley is an athletic freak who can put you on your back at any time. A run to the finals is not out of the question for this Caveman.


    TRISTON TONTE – PERRY MERIDIAN (40-2) VS. MATT HEDRICK – PORTAGE (29-7). Tonte is a very exciting sophomore who will wrestle with no fear of the big stage. Hedrick wrestled smart tactical matches at semi state to earn his bid to Indy.


    The 220 class is led by preseason top ranked Kobe Woods of Penn. Woods has maintained that ranking by fashioning a perfect 40-0 record. In fact, Woods has even cracked the national rankings at #19 by Flo. This class is by no means a slam dunk (sorry) as several challengers could step up if Woods were to falter. Conference rival and returning state placer, Eliseo Guerra of Elkhart Central has had two tight matches with Woods. Warren Central Courvoisier Morrow was narrowly defeated by Woods at the Al Smith tournament.


    KOBE WOODS – PENN (40-0). The Penn big man has gone wire to wire and has the experience, skill and coaching to bring home the gold.


    EVAN ELLIS – EASTERN (44-2). Ellis was a ticket round causality last year and wrestling at small school Eastern has kept him off many people’s radar. He is a talented wrestler that could make a run deep in this bracket.


    BLAKE DAVIS – GARRETT (47-4) VS. MORGAN KRAL – CROWN POINT (36-2). Davis has been largely over shadowed by his higher ranked older brother but one could argue that Blake has had a slightly better season than his brother Bo. He will face Kral, who is looking for his first state medal and has a state champion older brother in Tyler Kral.


    It looks like a two horse race for the big boys between nationally ranked top ten wrestlers Shawn Streck of Merrillville and Norman Oglesby of Ben Davis. There looks to be lots of purple under the lights on Saturday night. Both big men have state medals and lots of experience wrestling on Banker’s Life floor. Oglesby, a senior, has already accepted a football scholarship to Cincinnati while Streck is a junior who will likely have his pick of offers in both football and wrestling.


    SHAWN STRECK – MERRILLVILLE (42-0). The bracket gods were kind to wrestling fans by putting Streck and Oglesby on opposite sides of this bracket.


    BRYCE BIDDLE – PLAINFIELD (30-3). Plainfield’s promising sophomore Bryce Biddle has had one of the toughest roads to qualify for state going clear back to his sectional. He got a nice draw and could parlay this to a semi-final trip in his sophomore campaign.


    QUINN YORK – FRANKLIN (40-4) VS. JASION BROGAN – WARREN CENTRAL (38-5). These two juniors are just a shade under the top tier heavyweights and will battle Friday night for state hardware.


    • 02/19/2015
    • by Y2CJ41
  7. Rochester Regional Preview

    By Chad Hollenbaugh
    IndianaMat Senior Writer

    #15 Cavanaugh – Penn (24-7)
    Kazmierczak –SBSt.Joseph (32-6)
    Greene – Triton (29-7)
    Zahl – SBAdams (22-8)

    Records are deceiving here, at first glance this appears to be a balanced class of flyweights. Penn’s Kory Cavanaugh is the clear favorite due to the tough schedule that the Kingsmen wrestle. Cavanaugh is ranked 15th in the state and his losses are all to ranked kids. Triton’s Greene is intriguing because he wrestled 113 all season before a sectional cut to 106.

    Rochester Royal Rumble (Match of the Day) – Malichi Greene vs. Joey Zahl – This battle looks to be even on paper and the winner will possible avoid an early morning date with Cummings or Triana next week.

    Fans should be treated to a reunion of sorts in the finals at 113. Drew Hildebrandt is a clear front runner but fellow St. Joe County resident Adam Davis has quietly put together an outstanding frosh season for Culver Academy. The third ranked Hildebrandt should breeze here, he has too much experience for the young Eagle. Davis will be fun to follow as he continues his state series run.

    Royal Rumble – Aaron Brooke vs. Bryton Goehring (South Bend Riley) – Brooke has the far better record but Riley’s Goering has wrestled a much better schedule. Should be an early morning donnybrook with the winner earning a trip to Merrillville.

    #3 Hildebrandt – Penn (28-0)
    Davis – CMA (29-5)
    Brooke – Bremen (36-4)
    DeVault – Plymouth (18-7)

    #9 Hatch – Warsaw (36-1)
    #10 Hartman – SBClay (41-0)
    Hardesty – Mishawaka (27-6)
    Tyler – SBWashington (20-5)

    The finals at 120, should Warsaw’s #9 Kyle Hatch and Clay’s #10 Jake Hartman hold chalk, will be one of the marquee match ups of the day. With a combined record of 77-1, regional supremacy should be a whale of a match. Both are hammers in their top game so the margin might comedown to an escape, reversal or even an overtime scenario.

    Royal Rumble – The potential 3rd/4th place match between Washington’s Tondrew Tyler and Mishawaka’s Ryan Hardesty should be filled with scoring as both these young men fight for the right not to face a regional champ next week.

    After a promising freshman campaign, Wawasee’s Tristin Ponsler struggled last year and didn’t even qualify for regionals. Much like Austin Powers, Ponsler has found his mojo this season. He looked very sharp in the sectional finals where he defeated state ranked John Hunting of Rochester. These two should face off again this week.

    Royal Rumble – Season survival will be on the line in the first round when Penn’s Jarrett Selis and Plymouth’s Cody Allmon do battle. The outcome between these to savvy vets should be very close in this deep weight class.

    Ponsler – Wawasee (38-1)
    #20 Hunting – Rochester (32-5)
    Allmon - Plymouth (28-7)
    Beaver – Mishawaka (18-13)

    Another very deep and talented weight class with very little separation at the top. Valley’s Devin Childers has a state ranking and state experience. Riley’s Austen Laughlin has had an outstanding season with a conference and sectional title to add to his third place finish at Al Smith. Rishod Cotton of Clay has taken losses to both by the narrowest of margins. Throw in Bremen’s Joey Bailey, who wrestled most the season at 138, and you have a real meat grinder here.

    Royal Rumble – Both semifinal matches should be wars. I love the talent in this class.

    #15 Childers – Tippy Valley (37-1)
    Laughlin – SBRiley (41-4)
    Cotton – SBCotton (36-6)
    Bailey – Bremen (35-3)

    Wow! The great wrestling continues in this weight class where any of six grapplers have a legitimate shot at making the finals. Penn’s Cameron Beam was the titlist at Mishawaka and Culver’s Triston Rodriguez took the crown at Plymouth. Tippy Valley’s Wyatt Nelson is wrestling as well as I have ever seen him in his senior season. Rochester’s Josh Heckathorn and South Bend Adams’ Tarvis Evans are studs. Culver Academy’s young Miles Krintz will look to continue his season.

    Royal Rumble – First round tilts featuring Nelson/Beam and Heckathorn/Evans would be the equal of final matches in many of the regionals around the state. Great weight class.

    #17 Rodriguez – Culver Community (33-1)
    Beam – Penn (9-0)
    Krintz – CMA (28-9)
    Evans – SBAdams (27-7)

    A couple of super sophs headline the 145 class where Adams’ Tavonte Malone is the big dog. Not far behind is his conference rival Kassius Breathitt. Malone won by a single point in the sectional final. Rochester’s Justin Schroder had a disappointing Al Smith tourney but is wrestling lights out right now. He was very impressive in shutting out Culver Academy’s Noah Trevino last Saturday.

    Royal Rumble – I’m keeping my eye on the semifinal matchup between Rochester’s Schroder and Riley’s Breathitt. It should be a doozy.

    #14 Malone – SBAdams (29-2)
    #20 Breathitt – SBRiley (28-8)
    Schroder – Rochester (32-4)
    Hochstetler – Penn (24-11)

    This class is obviously top heavy with Tommy Forte and Jared Swank. They both have an excellent change to medal at state. Forte seems to be rounding into form as he stuck Swank last Saturday. Swank is a tough customer and will be back for more this week. Triton’s Stichter impressively beat Bremen’s Bollenbacher in the sectional final.

    Royal Rumble – The finals match is state semifinal quality.

    #1 Forte – Mishawaka (26-0)
    #4 Swank – Penn (27-3)
    Stichter – Triton (27-9)
    Bollenbacher – Bremen (30-8)

    Penn’s Denzyl Prentice has had an outstanding first full season in the Kingsman lineup as evidenced by his #9 state ranking. Triton’s Gage Waddle and St. Joe’s Norm Hezlip are not that far behind. The athleticism in this class will make many of the matches highly entertaining.

    Royal Rumble – The potential semifinal matchup between Waddle and Hezlip will be epic. They matched up about six weeks ago in the same gym and Hezlip came away with an exciting one point victory.

    #9 Prentice – Penn (26-2)
    Waddle – Triton (26-6)
    Hezlip – SBSt. Joseph (36-3)
    Goering- SBRiley (33-8)

    The Penn parade of champions will continue here as #3 ranked Joey Mammolenti should have little trouble with this field. Mishawaka’s Chase Deal had a nice upset win over James Malone of South Bend Riley last week. Triton’s Nate Spangle is the Plymouth sectionals best and looks to be the fourth Trojan to qualify for semistate.

    Royal Rumble – A semifinal tilt between Caveman Deal and Triton’s Spangle has potential to be a good one. Deal is wrestling well at the right time and Spangle has a sterling record mostly fashioned at the 182 pound weight class.

    #3 Mammolenti – Penn (29-2)
    Deal – Mishawaka (24-9)
    #20 Malone – SBRiley (36-9)
    Spangle – Triton (33-3)

    Penn’s top ranked Chase Osborn should dominate the field at 182. If he has to spend more than five minutes on the mat it would be surprising. That is not a knock on the rest of the field, it is a testament to how dominant Osborn has been this season. He should be tested again at semi state.

    Royal Rumble – If the bracket holds, we should see a 3rd place matchup between Plymouth’s Jeremy Splix and Clay’s Mason Cao. These two battled in the semis of the McKee invite six week ago and Splix came away with a narrow one point win.

    #1 Osborn – Penn (28-0)
    Bell – Tippy Valley (35-2)
    Splix – Plymouth (29-4)
    Cao – SBClay (39-4)

    The list of weight classes deep with talent is long at the Rochester regional this year and the 195 pound class is more evidence of the point. Wes Beck was dominating in the Plymouth sectional and Tanner Bradley battled to a slim one point victory Gabino Perez of South Bend Riley.

    Royal Rumble – A semifinal matchup of Beck and Perez has great potential. Beck is a clear favorite but if he is looking past Perez he could find himself on the short end of a tight match.

    #14 Beck – Rochester (36-3)
    #16 Bradley – Mishawaka (20-3)
    Perez – SBRiley (23-8)
    Nolin – Warsaw (32-4)

    #1 Woods – Penn (32-0)
    Ernst – Mishawaka Marian (22-7)
    Troxel – SBRiley (31-14)
    Hess – Mishawaka (12-12)

    Top ranked Kobe Woods is in much the same situation as his teammate Chase Osborn. He should dominate this field and not have to spend much time on the mat. Athletic, strong, experienced and technically sound, Woods is joy to watch on the mat. The battle here is for 2nd place.

    Royal Rumble – I like the first round match up between big Andrew Brock of Warsaw and the .500 Caveman Jake Hess. Hess was able to clip him at the Al Smith Invite. He will have to repeat to continue his season.

    Penn big man Cory Christman is a strong favorite to become the 7th Kingsman regional champion. His pin over Riley’s Brian Shaw makes me think he is peaking at the right time.

    Royal Rumble – The semifinal matchup between Shaw and Jordan Shafer of Rochester is probably the most compelling contest in this bracket. Both are athletic heavyweights who like to score.

    #9 Christman – Penn (27-3)
    Shaw – SBRiley (24-9)
    Shafer – Rochester (34-4)
    Koebel – SBSt. Joseph (25-13)

    • 02/02/2015
    • by Y2CJ41