Penn's team, Lowell's Drew Hughes win fourth straight Al Smith Classic
By STEVE KRAH
Five Penn wrestlers made it to the championship mat and helped the Kingsmen take the team title at Mishawaka High Schoolâ€™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.
â€œThis was the most grinding,â€ Kingsmen coach Brad Harper said. â€œThere were no easy matches.â€
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.
â€œIâ€™m trying to open up a lot more,â€ Hildebrandt said. â€œI want to be more aggressive this year. I was second last year. Thereâ€™s more to get.â€
U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier Sarah Hildebrandt helped coach her brother along with Harper.
â€œItâ€™s pretty nice,â€ Drew Hildebrandt said. â€œSometimes I hear her and say thatâ€™s not coach Harper and coach (Chad Hershberger).â€
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 Wayneâ€™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.
â€œI was sick Monday,â€ Hughes said. â€œIt was about getting on and off the mat. I had to take care of business.â€
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 â€” Jacob Covaciu (18-0 at 160) and Shawn Streck (21-0 at heavyweight) â€” 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 â€” Brock Hudkins (24-0 at 126) and Elliott Molloy (23-0 at 132) â€” 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 â€” the â€œblast doubleâ€ â€” not paying off Wednesday, Molloy focused on continuous movement and said it benefitted both he and Hudkins that they are Warrior workout partners.
â€œWe are like brothers,â€ Molloy said. â€œHeâ€™s gotten a lot better at neutral. He keeps moving and gets a lot of points. Heâ€™s better on top, too. He can take someone down and finish them.â€
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 (Jimtownâ€™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.
â€œWeâ€™ve been working really hard in practice this past week,â€ Kerrn said. â€œWeâ€™ve got (IHSWCA) Team State coming up (Saturday in Fort Wayne). Iâ€™ve been practiced with (former Jimtown state champion) Nick Crume and (former Jimtown state runner-up) Colin Crume and athletes.â€
AL SMITH CLASSIC
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.
106 â€” Cayden Rooks (Columbus East) dec. Kory Cavanaugh (Penn) 8-3. 113 â€” Colton Cummings (Lowell) dec. Austin Slates (Penn) 5-0. 120 â€” Drew Hildebrandt (Penn) maj. dec. Graham Rooks (Columbus East) 12-4. 126 â€” Brock Hudkins (Danville) dec. Gaige Torres (Portage) 7-1. 132 â€” Elliott Molloy (Danville) pinned Brendan Black (Hobart) 4:23. 138 â€” Kyle Hatch (Warsaw) dec. Jason Crary (Munster) 3-0. 145 â€” Kenny Kerrn (Jimtown) maj. dec. Cameron Beam (Penn) 14-3.
152 â€” Steven Lawrence (Portage) pinned Doug Levitz (Prairie Heights) 3:11. 160 â€” Jacob Covaciu (Merrillville) dec. Tavonte Malone (South Bend Adams) 9-2. 170 â€” Drew Hughes (Lowell) pinned Bryce Baumgartner (Bellmont) 1:24. 182 â€” Andrew Davison (Chesterton) dec. Cameron Jones (Lawrence North) 6-2. 195 â€” Jake Kleimola (Lake Central) dec. Erik Hobbs (Peru) 5-0. 220 â€” Kobe Woods (Penn) dec. Derek Paz (Goshen) 3-2. Hwt â€” Shawn Streck (Merrillville) tech. fall Ethan Bunce (Lawrence Central) 24-9.
106 â€” Tanner DeMien (NorthWood) pinned Brayden Shearer (Garrett) 1:26. 113 â€” Colin Poynter (Portage) dec. Jake Schoenegge (Columbus East) 3-1. 120 â€” Mason Mendez (Bellmont) dec. Isaac Castro (Lawrence North) 7-3. 126 â€” Marcus Mejia (Elkhart Memorial) dec. Michael DeLaPena (Merrillville) 6-3. 132 â€” Daniel Gunsett (Bellmont) dec. Jack Tolin (Chesterton) 5-2. 138 â€” Kris Rumph (Portage) dec. Riley Rasler (Prairie Heights) 6-4. 145 â€” Austen Laughlin (South Bend Riley) maj. dec. Logan Coyle (Center Grove) 13-4.
152 â€” Denzyl Prentice (Penn) dec. Diego Lemley (Chesterton) 6-4. 160 â€” Jarod Swank (Penn) dec. Jordan Rader (Peru) 6-2. 170 â€” Tristan Goering (South Bend Riley) dec. Ricky Samuels (Lawrence North) 8-5. 182 â€” David Eli (Elkhart Memorial) pinned Isaac James (Lowell) 1:39. 195 â€” Lucas Davison (Chesterton) dec. Michael Leonard (NorthWood) 5-1. 220 â€” Maliq Carr (Lawrence North) dec. Tyler McKeever (Fort Wayne Carroll) 10-3. Hwt â€” Sean Galligar (Columbus East) dec. Robert Samuels (Lawrence North) 3-2.
MVP: Drew Hughes (Lowell), five pins in 6:50.
106 â€” 5th, Brock Peele (Portage); 6th, Lucas Finger (Lowell); 7th, Fernando Flores (Goshen); 8th, John Gobeyn (Zionsville).
113 â€” 5th, Christian Mejia (Elkhart Memorial); 6th, Matt Gimson (Jimtown); 7th, Kyler Mckinney (Princeton); 8th, Joey Zahl (South Bend Adams).
120 â€” 5th, Azariah Ellis (Zionsville); 6th, Joel Byman (Fort Wayne Carroll); 7th, Datrion Vaughn (Lawrence Central); 8th, Dylan DeMarco (Garrett).
126 â€” 5th, Ryan Hardesty (Mishawaka); 6th, Jon Becker (Bellmont); 7th, Dawson Combest (Columbus East); 8th, Zane Standridge (Fort Wayne Carroll)
132 â€” 5th, Preston Risner (Mishawaka); 6th, Cody Crary (Munster); 7th, David Roth (Center Grove); 8th, Kameron Hile (Warsaw).
138 â€” 5th, Jacy Leon (Hobart); 6th, Trace Manspeaker (Penn); 7th, Anthony Williams (Center Grove); 8th, Malik Hoover (Merrillville).
145 â€” 5th, Chase Wilson (Princeton); 6th, Kasper McIntosh (Portage); 7th, Dante Colza (Hobart); 8th, DeShawn Bayless (Peru).
152 â€” 5th, Tavris Evans (South Bend Adams); 6th, Kassius Breathitt (South Bend Riley); 7th, Peyton Sturgill (Peru); 8th, Lucas Scott (Lowell).
160 â€” 5th, Tony Busse (Bellmont); 6th, Josh Garman (Fort Wayne Carroll); 7th, Jed Levitz (Prairie Heights); 8th, Austin Wilson (Columbus East)
170 â€” 5th, Ismael Cornejo (Portage); 6th, Steven Trammell (Lawrence Central); 7th, Jonah Hays (Center Grove); 8th, Coy Park (Columbus East).
182 â€” 5th, Joey Blakeley (Prairie Heights); 6th, Caleb Hankenson (Bellmont); 7th, Cameron Simmons (Lawrence Central); 8th, Rhett Mappes (Center Grove).
195 â€” 5th, Beck Davis (Garrett); 6th, Jarod Hayes (Jimtown); 7th, Jake Grossnickle (Fort Wayne Carroll); 8th, Nate Williams (Elkhart Memorial).
220 â€” 5th, Blake Davis (Garrett); 6th, Andrew Brock (Warsaw); 7th, Cory Heinrichs (Center Grove); 8th, Dan Mochen (Chesterton).
Hwt â€” 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.