By Chad Hollenbaugh
IndianaMat Senior Writer
The holiday season has been known in the prep wrestling world as a time for high school teams to travel and seek out great competition. Sometimes this competition is close to home, and sometimes squads will travel to other parts of the state. Connersville and the Mishawaka Al Smith Invitational both have a statewide reputation for attracting teams from all over the state. The Mater Dei Holiday meet has a more regional draw but its line up of teams is very strong.
In recent years, a new player on the holiday tournament scene has developed south of Indianapolis. The Mooresville tournament now is at the level where it will attract both high school teams and fans throughout the state. Mooresville is now attracting teams from three of the four semi-states and may provide the top holiday individual match-up if Indianapolis Cathedralâ€™s Blake Rypel and Mooresvilleâ€™s Randy Scott make their way to the finals at Mooresville. This would be a battle between the #1 and #2 ranked 195 pounders. Both are Fargo All Americans and exciting, dynamic performers.
Yorktown is the clear frontrunner for team honors but the defending state champions, Indianapolis Cathedral should test the Tigers. Castleâ€™s veteran coach, Bob Harmon, is not doubt interested to see how his young and talented Knights match up against some of the stateâ€™s best and donâ€™t sleep on the Panthers from Jennings County.
The little guys will bring excitement as state ranked grapplers from three semi states will battle it out for top honors at Mooresville. Hamilton Heights fifth ranked junior David Bryant is the pre meet favorite but he will likely be challenged by Castle freshman Baxter Annakin, who is ranked 12th and fourteenth ranked Christian Hunt of Yorktown. Will the Husky veteran be able to navigate against wrestlers from two of the better programs in the state?
Returning state placer Skylour Turner of Indianapolis Cathedral is the big dog in the 113 class. The Cathedral sophomore placed eighth at state last year. A couple of ticket round 106ers from last season will make the trip south from the Fort Wayne semi state looking to test themselves. 15th ranked Josh Stephenson of Yorktown and junior Jack Franklin of Homestead should both challenge Turner. Thirteenth ranked Carson Willis of Evansville Central adds depth to this class.
The 120 pound class looks like it might provide some fireworks due to both the strength at the top and the depth throughout the bracket. Cathedral has another returning state placer here with Breyden Bailey. Bailey was one of the stateâ€™s elite 106 pounders last year when he placed 3rd in the state. He is up two weight classes this year and might run into fourteenth ranked Isaac Gomez from Plainfield. Several semi state ranked grapplers led by Gibson Southernâ€™s Christian Pellacer.
Hamilton Height Husky Trezdon Oâ€™Neal and Evansville Central sophomore Conner Willis are the state ranked wrestlers at this weight. Oâ€™Neal comes into the Mooresville Invite ranked 14th in the state and Willis is currently slotted at number 12. Cathedralâ€™s Zach Melloh and Yorktownâ€™s Remo Hiestand are two wrestlers from tough programs that will push Oâ€™Neal and Willis. Terre Haute Southâ€™s David Lewis is the most likely Brave to perform well at Mooresville.
The Shamrocks of Westfield travel south of Indy for a nice warm up before wrestling in the team state duals. Their top wrestler, Evan Eldred will be the likely #1 seed at 132. He is currently ranked sixth in the state, was a Fargo All-American this past summer, and has a notable win over state placer Jack Chastain of Hamilton Southeastern. Looking to battle Eldred for Mooresville supremacy will be Yorktown senior Jacob Stephenson, currently ranked 11th in the state.
This class might be in the running for being the most competitive of the day. Hometown boy Mitch Anderson is a returning state qualifier that has yet to crack the state rankings this season.
The grappler he defeated to earn his trip to Bankers Life, Kyle Todrank of Gibson Southern is currently ranked sixth in the state. The fifth ranked Brad Laughlin of Yorktown will give the bracket a taste of the Tiger. Finally, Castle has yet another contender with semi state qualifier Austin Ramsey who comes in ranked thirteenth.
The top-heavy 145 class features two-time state placer Cael McCormick from Yorktown. McCormick keeps growing but still keeps winning and the Tiger is currently ranked third in the state. Ticket rounder Ethan Herrin of Jennings County is Hall of Fame coach T. Howard Jones top gun. Herrin is currently ranked fifth in the state. Castleâ€™s Patrick Schnell qualified for state last year at 138 and is currently ranked #12.
The 152 class has the least amount of established talent in the bracket so it might just be the most unpredictable and interesting to keep an eye on. Jacob Farmer of Castle is the only state ranked wrestler in this bracket. He may have to face Martinsville Cayden Whitaker in the finals. This match-up might be a preview for the semi-state in February.
A highlight weight class at the Mooresville Invite, the 160 division could feature a finals match-up that will be repeated at the Evansville semi-state and state finals. Second ranked Gabe Koontz of Edgewood will make the short trip north to battle at Mooresville. Koontz was third in the state last year. His likely finals opponent is Isaiah Kemper of Evansville Central. Kemper is a two time state qualifier. Excellent depth in this weight class is provided by Hamilton Heights Isaac Ray, Martinsvilleâ€™s Ethan Runyan, Castleâ€™s Turner Lockyear and Jennings Countyâ€™s Cole Chandler.
Not much depth here but the top two seeds could provide fireworks in the finals. Cathedralâ€™s Ben Harvey had a disappointing state finals last year but is rolling through this season with possibly the stateâ€™s best win, a 4-2 decision over defending state champion, Jacob Stevenson of Franklin. Yorktownâ€™s Dillon Jackson surprised many with his run to the semifinals last year at state and finished with a third place medal. Jackson has hit a couple of speed bumps this season and will look to get back on track with a win over Harvey.
The 182 weight class could be dominated by Yorktownâ€™s Myron Howard-Anderson. He is currently ranked 2nd in the state and finished fourth at this weight class last in the state meet. He, however, has not been very active this season and might be dealing with injury. If thatâ€™s the case, this weight class is wide open with Bloomington Northâ€™s Hunter Dalton, Castleâ€™s Evan Dowell, Jennings County Peyton Shepard and Homesteadâ€™s Wyatt Clem as contenders for the crown.
If there is one spotlight finals match-up that the entire state will keep an eye on, it is at 195. Top ranked Blake Rypel was a state runner-up last year, was a Fargo and Super 32 All American and currently is ranked 8th in the state by Flo and 11th by Intermat. His likely finals opponent will be hometown favorite Randy Scott. Scott finished third in the state last year and is also a former Fargo All American. On a busy day of wrestling state-wide, everyone will want to know the results of this brawl.
What the 220 class lacks in top end state level talent, it makes up for it with outstanding depth. Gibson Southernâ€™s junior Cody Klem lost a narrow ticket round match to Franklin stud Conner Talley. Klem might be under ranked at 8th. Martinsville sophomore big man Clayton Scroggs is currently ranked tenth in the state. Depth is provided by Cathedralâ€™s Ryan Guhl, Jennings Countyâ€™s Brady Shepherd, Westfieldâ€™s Daryn Milton and Yorktownâ€™s Noah Little.
The heavyweights have a trio of state ranked grapplers that will contend for top honors at Mooresville. The Quakerâ€™s of Plainfield have a sophomore stud in seventh ranked Bryce Biddle. Greenwood will likely counter on the other side of the bracket with number 13 Gavin Fuqua. The top end of Jenniings Countyâ€™s line up is in good hands with 16th ranked Brenden Sutton. Yorktownâ€™s Dax Hiestand provides balance for the Tigers.