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Mishawaka celebrates state title

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Mishawaka celebrates state title

By TIM CREASON

Tribune Correspondent

 

GREENWOOD, Ind. - The end result, really, had been expected from day one.

 

 

 

A season focused entirely on winning the Indiana high school team wrestling championship drew to a successful conclusion Saturday as Mishawaka dominated Yorktown, 37-17, in the final round of the 15th annual IHSAA team state finals. It is Mishawaka's second state crown in the team tournament in three years.

 

Danny Abu-shehab's fall in 2:31 over Yorktown's Grant Brown - bouncing back barely 30 minutes after he had watched his grandfather collapse in the bleachers and be taken to the hospital - sealed the victory on the mats at Center Grove High School.

 

The Cavemen and their fans broke into celebration as they finished a remarkable run through the three-match tournament, during which they defeated - in order - the state's No. 2, No. 4, and No. 3-ranked wrestling teams. And the Cavemen stormed to their crown by an average of 24 points per match against the state's best competition.

 

But really, the victory was ordained months ago, when practice began in Mishawaka's sweaty wrestling room, with coach Darrick Snyder reminding his team constantly about what happened at the state meet one year ago.

 

?We were undefeated and ranked No. 1, and we went to the state finals and lost in the first round,? said Snyder. ?All week, I kept telling the guys to remember how that felt.?

 

After dispatching No. 2 Crown Point and No. 4 Perry Meridian in the prelims, the No. 1-ranked Cavemen faced possibly the only team in the state that could match up with them in the finale.

 

The championship match stayed close through seven weight classes, with Yorktown actually leading 11-7 after five bouts. Starting with the 103-pound class, the two teams traded victories for close to an hour.

 

But then Matt Guerra scored a 5-4 victory over Yorktown's Andrew Hiestand at 135, Anthony Eddy nipped Josh Rench 7-1 at 140, and Darius Marshall took out Cody Harper, 6-3, at 145.

 

Then, the dam broke. Ryan Stahl broke the contest open by pinning Caleb Smith at 152.

 

?I'm on Cloud 9 right now,? said Stahl, who was suffering considerably from a back injury. ?Before the match, I was thinking about my back and already making excuses in my head. But when I went out there, I realized that I had to get six (points) for the team. I didn't think about the pain, just getting the pin.?

 

It's Mishawaka's second state championship in three years, and the third in the history of the school. And it was, by far, the easiest of the three.

 

?Ever since I started wrestling, we've been preparing for this,? said 112-pound senior Paul Beck, who scored Mishawaka's first points in the finals with an 11-1 victory over Schuyler Phillips. ?We came down here with the attitude that we had a job to do, and we got it done.?

 

?That's just the way these guys are,? said Snyder. ?This is the most focused, unselfish group I've ever been around. It's the best class of seniors we've ever had. Seriously.?

 

One of those seniors, two-time individual state runnerup Christian Lentz, closed Mishawaka's scoring with a takedown-fest against Yorktown's Scott Neff. He concluded his season with a 14-1 major decision.

 

?It was kind of frustrating, because you could tell they weren't wrestling us, they were just trying to not get pinned,? said Lentz. ?That's OK, we're used to that kind of stuff.?

 

If there was a low point, it only occurred after the 135-pound match, when Guerra cost the Cavemen a team point by doing a celebration dance on the mat after his overtime victory.

 

?I felt like, in the finals, we had a few guys who let their emotions get carried away a little too much,? said Snyder.

 

But that was quickly forgotten. Layten Binion's big win at 119, as well as wins from Alex White (160) and Richard Morin (171), were far more important.

 

?Honestly, if we wrestled Mishawaka 10 times, I don't know if we would win any of them,? said Yorktown coach Trent McCormick. ?I'm proud of the way our kids wrestled, but Mishawaka is just at a different level.?

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