Welcome to TripleB’s annual Evansville Semi-State Wrestling Preview Spectacular!!
Before we get into the good stuff, let’s cover what’s important:
TripleB presents the first ever Evansville Semi State Meet and Greet at The Gerst Haus, Friday night in Evansville at 8pm Evansville time. We’ll have 2 special guest as noted author and Evansville wrestling historian Hook and Half also known as John Johnson and incoming IHSWCA president Tskin himself, Tyson Skinner will be on hand to socialize with the Indiana wrestling community. This coincides with the Franklin Street Mardi Gras Pub Crawl. So come out and have a good time w/ The IndianaMat family!
This introduction and welcome to Evansville is brought to you by "literary titan and celebrated author Hook and Half”:
10,000 years after Paleo-Indians initially settled the "River City", wrestling fans will descend upon the Ford Center for what promises to be an outstanding day of semi state action.
When the Delaware Indians formally relinquished the Evansville area to General William Henry Harrison in 1805, they surely did not understand the value of the grappling space of which there were ceding!
Our 16th President grew up about 35 miles east of Evansville in Spencer County. One can ride a bicycle from his boyhood log cabin to Heritage Hills High School. Lincoln, who is honored in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, was said to have lost only one match in nearly 300 bouts. The presence of the Great Emancipator will felt this Saturday.
Wow, thanks hook and half! How can I be expected to follow that?? We’ll preview all 14 weights. Each weight will feature:
The Charles Barkley “Turrible” Draws - ticket round matches that shouldn’t be happening in the ticket round!
The Barry Horowitz Best Curtain Jerkers - Best first round matches!
The Built Ford Tough Locks - The Pickers of the Round Table has been assembled. There were very few, but any weight class where the pick for champion was unanimous, makes it a Ford Tough Lock. Ford Tough Locks were hard to come by this year as only 4 were given out.
Ford Fab 4 - After picks were gathered, points distributed, and the dust settled, we’ll have the Ford Fab 4.
Also at the end we’ll feature Hooks Picks as Mr. Johnson brings you a travel guide for things to do and places to eat in Evansville, along with some insider knowledge into the Ford Center.
Without further ado...UNLEASH THE PREVIEW!!
106: It’s appropriate that we start with this weight class, as it could be labeled “The Future Stars” of Evansville Semi-State. But for these guys their time is Now. 14 of the 16 wrestlers are freshmen and all 10 SS ranked wrestlers are here.
Barry Horowitz Best Curtain Jerker - No real matches jump off here, all the kids are solid. Trips will go with SS ranked #7 Tony Mosconi of Indian Creek vs. SS 8th ranked Dalton Craig of Jennings County. Mosconi has put together a solid Freshman season for the Braves. Craig’s 8 losses are a bit deceiving, he’s dropped multiple matches to conference Rival Graham Rooks. expect the winner here to push Levi Miller of North Posey in the the ticket round.
Charles Barkley Turrible Draws - #1 Noah Hunt vs. #2 Mason Miranda...Whaaaaat?!? Triple B likes Miranda to win the match and the weight class Saturday! But the Pickers of the Round Table disagree.
Ford Fab 4 - The first committee vote featured 3 different favorites, but Frosh phenom Graham Rooks was the clear leader.
1st - Graham Rooks Columbus East, 2nd - Noah Hunt Bloomington South, 3rd - Tyler Mills Brownsburg, 4th - Levi Miller North Posey
113: The biggest questions at 113 - “Is he healthy enough?” “Is he gonna pull a Danny Williams?” Of course “he” is #1 ranked Paul Konrath and Konrath dominates this 113 discussion. After defaulting out at Regionals, questions have been flying. The P.O.T.R.T. say...he’s defaulting out to fourth. This weight is loaded with ticket round matches full of state worthy guys including state qualifiers Jacob Skaggs and Noah Franklin meeting up, as will former state qualifiers Kyle Luigs of Evansville Mater Dei and Hunter Fox of Cascade, and the high light might be Konrath and #4 Nick Weaver of Brownsburg.
Barry Horowitz Best Curtain Jerker - Don’t be late Saturday! Freshman Phenom Tristan Sellmer has knocked off state qualifier Noah Franklin the last 2 weekends and his reward is….returning State Runner-Up Paul Konrath. Speaking of this Konrath kid…
Charles Barkley Turrible Draw - #1 Paul Konrath and #4 Nick Weaver headline a spectacular ticket round session here at 113. Weaver might punch his ticket in any other quarterfinal, but this obstacle might be too big for the Bulldog.
Ford Fab 4 - The only thing of note here is that Konrath’s injury leaves the Pickers unsettled and because of that he is the first of five returning Semi-State champs to not get enough votes to be a Ford Tough Lock.
1st - Kyle Luigs Evansville Mater Dei, 2nd - Logan Dilbeck Gibson Southern, 3rd Jacob Skaggs Avon, 4th Paul Konrath Mt. Vernon
120: This weight class features dual winner for Curtain Jerker and Turrible Draw, 2 state qualifiers locking up first round does not make Sir Charles happy! Also of note, 120 features the second weight class where a returning semi state champ is not a Lock!
Barry Horowitz Best Curtain Jerker/Charles Barkley Turrible Draw - Ben Davis Junior James Pritchett was a surprise state qualifier a year ago for the Giants. This year he will have his work cut out for him as he will have returning 5th place finisher Tyler Ferguson of Evansville Reitz. Zoinks….that’s a bad draw!
Ford Fab 4: I had to double check the registry….Brock Hudkins is not a FTL?!?!? Unrest in the South after Will Egli’s big win over Ferguson last week has cause some to convert!
1st - Brock Hudkins Danville, 2nd - Tyler Ferguson Reitz, 3rd - Will Egli Evansville Mater Dei, 4th Isaac Gomez Plainfield
126: 2 returning state qualifiers Elliott Molloy and Alex Johnson will hook up in one semi, while the other side will look to benefit from having those 2 on the other side. 126 will also feature the first tie as the Round Table couldn’t come to an agreement over Braedon Clopton of Castle and David Lewis of Terre Haute South.
Barry Horowitz Best Curtain Jerker - Trevor Reese of Franklin might have something to say about the Clopton/Lewis match as he looks to crash that party when him and Clopton go at it in the first round. Consider Reese a dark horse here and could punch his ticket also.
Charles Barkley Turrible Draw - Chayce Young of Madison and Brody Boles of Mooresville are both returning Semi State Qualifiers. It looked like Boles was possibly gonna punch his ticket a year ago before getting caught on his back late in his first round match and dropping a tough 8-6 decision to eventual SQ Austin Bethel. Young jumped out to an early 5-0 lead over Molloy in the ticket round before Molloy turned on his takedown machine and went to work. 2 questionable calls late in the match (I’m biased) cost Young his chance as he dropped a 10-8 OT decision. Now both seniors should put on the fireworks in their ticket round match...Charles can only shake his head….
Ford Fab 4: This was close on who wins Molloy/Johnson, but Molloy just pulled it out at the Table. Which could set up a nice revenge match in the finals w/ Young.
1st - Elliott Molloy Danville, 2nd Chayce Young Madison, 3rd Alex Johnson Evansville Mater Dei, 4th Winner of Clopton/Lewis.
132: Many people would expect this to be our first Ford Tough Lock….but stop the presses...Not So! You’ll have to skip ahead one weight class to see a Lee has our first FTL. The Hobbit from the North beLEEves in a Lee, but not the Wildcat. No he think’s Brayton Lee will shake Evansville to the core on Saturday.
Barry Horowitz Best Curtain Jerkers - Keep an eye on Tristin Dowell and Josh Elpers. Dowell has been a popular name on Indianamat this year, did New Albany just get the internet installed? Elpers has 13 losses, but wrestles in a tough area and could be ready to pull off a #4 over #1 come Saturday. Also Jaylen Lee vs. Cale McCoy. McCoy is a pick to get be Ford Fab 4 but Lee only has 3 losses and Ben Davis does not wrestle slouches. Could Jaylen Lee be this year’s James Pritchett?
Charles Barkley Turrible Draws - #2 Brayton Lee vs. #4 Austin Bethel, Freshman vs. State Qualifier. #1 Nick Lee vs. #5 Mitch Anderson. Bad draw’s abound here, all 4 of these guys are worthy of being SQ’s.
Ford Fab 4 - Once again the biggest shock is the Nick Lee is not a Ford Tough Lock, but we’ll see what happens come Saturday. Lee vs. Lee!!
1st - Nick Lee Evansville Mater Dei, 2nd - Brayton Lee Brownsburg, 3rd - Griffin Schermer Bloomington South, 4th - Cale McCoy Northview
138: It took 6 weight classes, but 138 gives us our first Ford Tough Lock - Evansville Mater Dei Freshman Joe Lee. There are some nice first round matches but overall it looks like the Castle Regional will reign supreme as projected top 3 all come from The Castle
Barry Horowitz Best Curtain Jerker - 2 matches both highlight the opening ceremonies at 138. Returning state qualifier Quinn Harris and Castle junior Austin Ramsey will both be looking to get to Bankers but first thing’s first… Also Franklin’s Shane Wilkerson and Gibson Southern’s Kyle Todrank will go at it. Wilkerson has been wrestling good as of late but is it enough to upend Todrank who is wanting a third match at Joe Lee
Charles Barkley Turrible Draw - No complaints here, all looks good!
Ford Tough Lock - Our first one, Joe Lee Evansville Mater Dei. Todrank has kept it close, but expect the same result this weekend.
Ford Fab 4 - 1st Joe Lee Evansville Mater Dei, 2nd - Kyle Todrank Gibson Southern, 3rd - Austin Ramsey Castle, 4th - Nick Weddle Ben Davis
145: This weight features our second Ford Tough Lock, and he’s also a Wildcat, Blake Jourdan joins teammate Joe Lee as being a Ford Tough Lock. The Pickers also project 2 upsets, in terms of SS rankings, at this weight as Ethan Herrin (#5) is favored over Thomas Dull (#2) and Brennan Barlow (#8) is favored over returning state qualifier Bryant Haynes (#4)
Barry Horowitz Best Curtain Jerker - Potential #4 over #1 Madison’s Trenton Dempler and Mooresville’s Christian Warren look to go. Expect this match to be all go and Dempler’s matches never seem to be boring.
Charles Barkley Turrible Draws - Herrin and Dull features a match where 2 kids that have been at the top all year is going home. Herrin’s come from behind win last week at regionals and Barlow finally catching Dull both show how close this match was from not happening, anything falls different and we are looking at different match ups here.
Ford Tough Lock - Blake Jourdan, Evansville Mater Dei
Ford Fab 4 - 1st - Blake Jourdan Evansville Mater Dei, 2nd - Patrick Schnell - Castle, Ethan Herrin Jennings County, Brennan Barlow Bloomington South
152: 3 weight classes in a row with a Ford Tough Lock. This one is also from Evansville but not from Mater Dei! Central’s Isaiah Kemper looks to bring the Bears another Semi-State Champ. The Mooresville Regional will have some chances to take some cracks at Kemper as 1 loss junior Elijah Dunn and 4 loss junior Cayden Whitaker look to punch their tickets
Barry Horowitz Best Curtain Jerker - Nothing really jumps off the page. Look for some seniors to give favorites tough first round matches. Heritage Hills’ Cordell Miller will battle Whitaker and Brownsburg senior Brandon Gay, who is relatively new to 152, might frustrate Kemper.
Charles Barkley Turrible Draw - #5 Tre Lynch finds himself in a tough spot after dropping some tough losses at Sectionals and Regionals, he now finds himself against #2 ranked Dunn in the ticket round. Does the Bulldog senior have what it takes?
Ford Tough Lock - Isaiah Kemper Evansville Central
Ford Fab 4 - 1st - Isaiah Kemper Evansville Central, 2nd - Cayden Whitaker Martinsville, 3rd Elijah Dunn Indian Creek, 4th - Jacob Farmer Castle
160: 160 features returning Semi-State Champ Gabe Koontz, but is he a lock, not according to the Round Table. Brendon Helm has an off season win over Koontz and some think he will win again come Saturday. Trips went against the grain and took Turner Lockyear in the upset, but he was voted down at the Table!
Barry Horowitz Best Curtain Jerker - #8 Nick Buedel of Evansville Mater Dei is described as a high intense wrestler and his first round opponent, Wes Ferguson of Jennings County has worked his way into the Panthers line up and has a stellar 21-2 record. Neither senior wants their season to end in the first round!
Charles Barkley Turrible Draws - #3 Tristan McDaniel vs #5 Ethan Runyan - Runyan is battle tested as he’s had a tough path through the state tourney, will the battle tested Runyan be able to knock off the Tecumseh senior? #2 Brendon Helm vs. #4 Turner Lockyear - these guys have a total of 5 losses between them. Both started the season at 170 and dropped to 160 midway through. Both are seniors...Who wins?!?!?!?
Ford Fab 4 - 1st - Gabe Koontz Edgewood, 2nd - Tristan McDaniel Tecumseh, 3rd - Brendon Helm Avon, 4th - Kody Caudle Danville
170: A returning state champ, and not the favorite, Franklins Jacob Stevenson has ran into rough competition w/ a bullseye. He took a loss last weekend to Ben Davis’ Dylan Lydy. Stevenson also got a late start and could still be feeling the effects of a football injury. With all of those factors the Pickers had to go with Lydy here.
Barry Horowitz Best Curtain Jerkers - #3 Nathan Walton vs. #4 Noah Huelsing, Cra-Cra…. The freshman from Brownsburg has been in behind Lydy and Stevenson...now that pays off with #4 Huelsing in a great opening round match. This will definitely be better than Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania 28 (worst curtain jerker ever).
Charles Barkley Turrible Draw - See above, the winner probably punches their ticket, but it’s a shame one of these guys are going home early.
Ford Fab 4 - 1st - Dylan Lydy Ben Davis, 2nd - Jacob Stevenson Franklin Community, 3rd Nathan Walton Brownsburg, 4th - Blake Jeffress Castle
182: Undefeated Super Sophomore Kyle Shaffer from South Putnam seemed like sure lock, but not this year. However it does seem like we’ll see another round of Shaffer vs. Elmore. Can the senior from Avon finally knock off Shaffer? Super sleeper, 2 loss frosh Ryan Hammond from Whiteland got some love from the Pickers, not enough to get into the Fab 4 but enough to take notice.
Barry Horowitz Best Curtain Jerker - 8th ranked Peyton Shepherd of Jennings County vs. the aforementioned Hammond. The winner will look to spoil Hunter Dalton’s ticket round.
Charles Barkley Turrible Draws - #2 Evan Elmore vs. #3 Sam Bassemeier. Why wasn’t Shaffer a lock you ask? Some believe that Bassemeier will crash the North’s party and skate out of the Ford Center as Semi State Champ. Bassemeier’s one loss was a 5-2 decision to Elmore at the Mater Dei Classic. Turrible says Charles….just Turrible
Ford Fab 4 - 1st - Kyle Shaffer South Putnam, 2nd - Evan Elmore Avon, 3rd - Matt Hayes Providence, 4th - Hunter Dalton Bloomington North
195: Randy Scott...need we say more? Well yes we do b/c Scott was not another victim of one of the pickers thinking he’s ripe for the upset this weekend. Scott had a big ticket round last year knocking off Dakota Thacker and rode that win to Semi-State runner up and 3rd place finish at state. Will Scott be the victim this year as he’ll likely face #2 Adam Lytle from Tecumseh in the ticket round.
Barry Horowitz Best Curtain Jerker - None of these first round matches really made Barry give himself a pat on the back. He wound up going w/ #7 Chase Thompson of Jeffersonville vs. #4 Garrison Lee of Monrovia. Sometimes styles clash, can Thompson keep the Red Devils state streak going?
Charles Barkley Turrible Draws - #1 vs. #2, #3 vs. #4….all in the ticket round. What’s up with that??? Jasper’s #3 Ian Songer vs. #4 Lee...The Table likes the upset here. #1 Scott vs. #2 Lytle Scott got the votes and was unanimous here. Sir Charles said that this weight was worse bad, just bad. He asked about going best of 7??
Ford Fab 4 - 1st - Randy Scott Mooresville, 2nd - Chase Anslinger Evansville Mater Dei, 3rd - Garrison Lee Monrovia, 4th - Quade Greiwe Columbus East
220: 220 was a mess at The Table. Pickers chose everybody, I think DJ Radnovich even got a vote. 8 different wrestlers got votes, the most by any weight class by far. At one point there were 2 ties, we had look for hanging chads and almost drew straws. The consensus was the winner of Gunnar Lason and Corey Klem is the favorite to win state.
Barry Horowitz Best Curtain Jerker - #9 Brady Shepherd vs. #7 Kurtis Wilderman Evansville Mater Dei. 2 young, athletic big boys are gonna get after it. I don’t think this match will go 6 minutes. The winner here hopes to knock off the senior state qualifier from Ben Davis, Kasha Wilder.
Charles Barkley Turrible Draws - Another #1 vs. #2 here as Gibson Southern’s Corey Klem was upended last weekend by La’Terrance Kyles, setting up this ticket round battle. The P.O.T.R.T. went with Larson here in a close one, however both guys were picked to win in all ballots. Another close one on the ballots was Kyles vs. #4 Martinsville Sophomore Clayton Scroggs. Trips likes Scroggs, but votes were close as Kyles ending getting the nod.
Ford Fab 4 - Due to the rare nature of Larson and Klem splitting votes, Larson ended up tying with Kasha Wilder. BBB gives Larson the nod and breaks the tie.
1st - Gunnar Larson Avon, 2nd - Kasha Wilder Ben Davis, 3rd - La’Terrance Kyles Evansville Harrison, 4th - winner of Tristin Choate and Dakota Short
285: The last of the weights features the last lock of the preview, Stormin’ Norman Ogelsby will look the gridiron in the fall with the Cincinatti Bearcats but hopes to finish up his season with a 3rd Semi-State title and push for a state title. This only the only weight that featured 4 locked picks as everybody agreed on the Ford Fab 4 here, but there were some disagreements on order.
Barry Horowitz Best Curtain Jerkers - #3 Bryce Biddle, Plainfield vs. 3 loss senior Colten Dossett of Tecumseh. Tough first round match, with the winner jumping right into a Turrible Draw match. #6 Adrian Butler Evansville Mater Dei vs. #8 Brett Henson Avon is another great first round match. Avon and EMD always bring their best stuff to the Ford Center, this one should be no different.
Charles Barkley Turrible Draws - Biddle vs. #2 Nathan Hayes Greensburg. Hayes hasn’t had the best of tournament runs and if the Pirate wants to finish his career in the Bank, he’ll need to knock off a game Biddle.
Ford Tough Lock - 3x Semi State champs are rare, and even rarer at HWT, but Norman Ogelsby should do just that Saturday in Evansville
Ford Fab 4 - 1st - Norman Ogelsby Ben Davis, 2nd - Quinn York Franklin Community, 3rd - Adrian Butler Evansville Mater Dei, 4th - Bryce Biddle Plainfield
We’ll end this article with Hook’s Picks:
· Dinner- Turoni's has two Evansville locations and a microbrewery. Their pizza is special. DiLegge's is a locally-owned Italian restaurant whose food is out of this world. Visit theHilltop Inn, recently voted the Manliest Bar in America. The adventurous should order a brain sandwich. Non-adventurers will be safe and happy with a bowl of Burgoo (trust me). Mrs. Hook loves their chicken livers. I am a Stromboli fiend, accordingly, I have eaten them everywhere. Nobody beats Pizza King for Stroms. Nobody. The Gerst Haus serves authentic German cuisine and has over 30 varieties of beer on tap. Get ready for a carbohydrate and protein load up!
· Franklin Street has a vibrant night life featuring restaurants, bars, taverns and a night club. Park your car, as the city offers shuttle service for the Mardi Gras pub crawl taking place this weekend.
· Get your ticket early. There is only one door to enter the Ford Center and it is going to be cold and windy on Saturday morning.
· Bring money. The Ford Center is one of Indiana's premier venues; it comes at a price. They get NBA-style prices for the concessions. Methinks that the good people of Castle should take over food duties...
· Bring a hoodie. An ice rink is beneath the mats. The place is fa-rosty.
· 70 years ago, 130,000 Americans hit Normandy's beaches, liberated Europe and altered the course of western civilization. Many of our boys caught a ride to the shoreline on the LST, built right here in Evans-Vegas. The LST 325 is downtown and available for tours. You will not regret it.
· John Reitz was a 19th-century lumber baron along the magnitude of a Bill Gates or Donald Trump. His son is the namesake of FJ Reitz High School and Reitz Memorial High School. The Reitz home is open for tours. The Mrs. and the kids will enjoy this.
· The Children's Museum of Evansville (CMOE) is within walking distance of the Ford Center and is a grand slam. When my three children--Hooksly, Hookticia and PowerHalf--were tikes, it was one of their favorite things to do.
- by TripleB