As we move to the 2nd round on Saturday morning, the following commentary is based purely on my opinions. Please feel free to use anything said as motivation. In this article, I will feature what I believe will be outstanding quarterfinal matches. It could be based on rankings, rivalries or just a hunch.
Karlâ€™s Quarterfinal Clashes
Donâ€™t stay out too late on Friday night as the lightweights will be rocking and rolling early Saturday morning. My top potential match up at 106 is a doozy:
#7 Drake Campbell â€“ Brownsburg vs. #4 AJ Black â€“ Shenandoah
Coach Snyder will have his flyweight ready as he will be firing up his troops in order to make a run at the state title. Campbell getting to the semi finals would be a huge bonus for the Bulldogs. To reach the semis Campbell will have to be the sophomore Black. Black is from little school Shenandoah but donâ€™t sell him short. He as wrestled and beaten some of the best.
The final quarterfinal clash in the 113 bracket is most definitely semi final or state final quality:
#4 Kory Cavanaugh â€“ Penn vs. #1 Asa Garcia â€“ Avon
Cavanaugh went into last weekends semi state as the prohibitive favorite. A little hiccup puts him in the same quarter bracket with the defending 106 champion Garcia. This match up has the makings of a classic. Penn kids are always able to execute a game plan and Garcia is wrestling with extreme confidence this post season.
If you only look at the ranking, my pick for the outstanding second round match in the 120 pound class might not make much sense because it pits the 5th ranked wrestler versus the 18th ranked. If you dive deeper you see details that make this a great Saturday morning scrap.
#18 Tyce Freije â€“ Roncalli vs. #5 Colin Poynter â€“ Portage
Freije navigated a wicked 120 bracket at New Castle to come out as champion. In the preseason, he was one of the most highly touted freshman in the state. After a few hiccups during the season, Freije has turned it on in the post season. Striving to be his kryptonite is the talented junior from Portage, Colin Poynter.
In the bottom half of the bracket looms a whale of a potential semifinal battle between #1 ranked Blake Mulkey of Brownsburg and #6 ranked, semi state champion from Cathedral, Jordan Slivka. Slivka avenged an earlier season loss to Alec White at New Castle and like several other Irish, appears to be peaking at the right time. Mulkey was on the same side of the semi state bracket as 2nd ranked Graham Rooks. He lost a narrow one point decision which put him in this quarter bracket. The entire bracket is awesome but this match up stands out.
The top quarterfinal match up at 132 might be dubbed the â€œ2018 State Finalsâ€. The potential tilt pits the two top ranked juniors in the state. Yorktownâ€™s 4th ranked Christian Hunt is the semi state champ from Fort Wayne. He has just two losses on the season, one of which was to 2nd ranked Breyden Bailey of Cathedral. 5th ranked Ethan Smiley of Beech Grove suffered his first loss of the season last weekend to Bailey. This should be a beauty of a match in order get to the semi finals.
The unstoppable force versus the immovable object. Yes it is a clichÃ© but it aptly describes the best potential quarterfinal match in the 138 pound class. From the region, it is the very offensive takedown artist, #3 ranked Kris Rumph of Portage. Rumph broke out last year with a fourth place medal at the state meet. His likely opponent from the deep south is Tristan Sellmer of Floyd Central. Sellmer sent notice to the state that he was a contender with an out standing effort at the Calumet Traicoff tournament where Rumph narrowly edged him 3-2. This should have the feel of a semi final.
The bracket gods were unkind to Portageâ€™s 2nd ranked Kasper McIntosh this year. After being upset by Jason Crary of Munster at the semi state, McIntosh got placed in the one quarter bracket he would have liked to have avoided. Brownsburgâ€™s returning state champ, # 1 ranked Brayton Lee is likely to be waiting for McIntosh on Saturday morning. A matchup of a state champ and a state runner up on Saturday morning is just awesome for the fans.
New Castle semi state winner Noah Warren of Perry Meridian is ranked 2nd in the state. He was a 7th place finisher at 160 last year and has come down a weight for the 2017 season. His likely Saturday morning foe should be Mount Vernonâ€™s Austin Bethel. Bethel is a four time state finalist but has never wrestled on Saturday. A 4th ranked kid versus the second ranked kid is deserving of a semi final or even final match. Fans should be treated to an high energy, exciting tilt.
Gleason Mappes of Center Grove might be the most under appreciated wrestlers in the state. A 39-1 record, an Al Smith title, and a fourth place medal from last year have only resulted in a sixth place ranking for the Trojan senior. Another trip to the semifinals might be on the line Saturday morning and his adversary should be Oszkar Kasch of Crown Point or it could be the one wrestler that has beaten Mappes this year, Matt Wertz of Zionsville. Kasch is a junior with a fine 33-3 record and is ranked just behind Mappes in 7th.
Can you believe that we get to see another epic #1 vs. #2 showdown early Saturday morning. A narrow win by Eli Stock of Monrovia over the stateâ€™s top ranked Burk Van Horn, has put Van Horn in a quarter bracket with non other than the stateâ€™s second ranked wrestler, Tanner Webster of North Montgomery. Van Horn was a state runner up last year at 160 and Webster, a Purdue recruit, finished sixth at this weight class a year ago. Plan your potty breaks accordingly because this one is not to be missed.
As we move to the 182 class, the bracket shows that the top four ranked kids in the state are in four separate quarter brackets. Second ranked Thomas Dull of Terre Haute North, is in the same semi state as top ranked Nathan Walton of Brownsburg. Walton defeated Dull last week in the semi finals at Evansville. Dull probably got the best state draw he could have hoped for when he was put in the same quarter bracket with the champ from the New Castle semi-state, Alec Jessop of Hamilton Southeastern. Jessop is largely unknown to fans statewide so it should be an interesting battle versus last yearâ€™s 5th place finisher at 170.
A whale of a Saturday morning match should be on tap between Cathedralâ€™s Ben Stewart and Elkhart Memorialâ€™s David Eli. The second ranked Stewart has finished 3rd at this weight class last year. Strong and fast, the Irishman is tough to deal with as his 33-1 record indicates. The fourth ranked Eli will not take a backseat to any one in this weight class. He has an outstanding 42-1 record, two state medals to his name, and a ton of confidence after blitzing the field at Fort Wayne last week. He pinned all four opponents and spent about six total minutes on the mat. Eliâ€™s lone loss was in the championship match at the Al Smith, where he was defeated by Chestertonâ€™s Andrew Davison.
The light heavyweight class might have been the most difficult of the fourteen to select an outstanding quarterfinal bout. Sixth ranked Donnie Crider of Lafayette Harrison should tackle top dog, Mason Parris of Lawrenceburg. Interesting, but until someone proves me wrong, I think Parris will dominate anyone in his path. My choice then for the top second round match is between Dalevilleâ€™s Corbin Maddox and Brownsburgâ€™s Isaac McCormick. Maddox is currently ranked 4th in the state and has state hardware on his resume. However, the 8th ranked McCormick will be wrestling, not only for himself, but also for his team in their efforts to get a state crown. The match up also pits a wrestler from the smallest school with a qualifier against the prohibitive favorite for the team title. Interesting indeed.
The big fellas have always held a special place in my heart and this year is no different. All four 2nd round bouts have an appeal bu the first one stands out in my mind. A potential match up between third ranked Wade Ripple from Mount Vernon and defending state runner up, Robert Samuels of Lawrence North. Ripple has torn through everyone this year after coming up one match short of making the state finals last year. Mount Vernon has an outstanding tradition in the heavyweight class. Samuels, currently ranked 9th, has had a few hiccups this year but obviously has the talent and experience needed to make a deep run this weekend.