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Hook's Annual Central Sectional Preview and Analysis

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The 2016 Evansville Central Sectional—long considered as one of the toughest in the State—expects to hold its form.  In addition to the PAC champion Gibson Southern Titans, the Big 8 team champion Mt. Vernon Wildcats and SIAC champion Mater Dei Wildcats, the field is fortified with many state-ranked wrestlers.


In no weight class is the depth and quality of the field greater exemplified than at 145 pounds, where Mater Dei’s Joe Lee is the headliner.  The sophomore was the 2015 State runner-up and shows no signs of slowing.  At the SIAC meet, Lee spent less than three minutes on the mat.  North’ Nick Burke is an accomplished veteran with a 32-2 record and is the four seed.  Austin Bethel is a sixth-ranked senior and represents a State medalist hopeful for Mt. Vernon coach Tim Alcorn.  Bethel will have to get by Princeton’s very dangerous Chase Wilson to earn a shot at Lee.  In Lee, Bethel, Burke and Wilson, there are four potential State Qualifiers—and a possible State Champ.


When the last match of the day commences, all wrestling eyes in the state will be on the center mat, when Gibson Southern’s second-ranked Cory Klem could meet Mt. Vernon’s third-ranked Wade Ripple.  The pair could potentially lock up three more times, as both are working toward a State Title shot.  There are obstacles in the forms of Mater Dei’s Austin Fleck and Central’s Jordan Libby.  Libby and Fleck have traded wins, while Ripple owns a 5-2, December victory over Fleck.  At the Mater Dei Holiday Classic, Klem beat Ripple, 104.  Don’t miss a match at 285!


10th-ranked Mater Dei freshman Clay Egli is a big favorite and gets the top seed at 106.  North Posey’s Kameron Kendall and Central’s Cameron Amento will battle in hopes of a spot against Egli in the final.


Princeton sophomore, Kyler McKinney, is the top seed at 113.  The 32-4 junior looks to break out this year.  He will likely meet Mater Dei freshman Blaine Mayer in the semifinal.  Gibson Southern’s surging, Drew Dilbeck should meet North Posey’s Cameron Fisher in a PAC-title rematch for a title opportunity.


At 120, Mater Dei’s fifth-ranked Kyle Luigs hopes to capture his second sectional title.  On the other side of the bracket, 2015 State Qualifier, Levi Miller of North Posey should meet with Vincennes Lincoln’s Parker McNeely.


Gibson Southern’s Logan Dilbeck puts his 8th-ranking on the line while he pursues his second sectional title.  Mt. Vernon’s Harley Gorman and Mater Dei’s Joe Happe will compete for a slot in the final.  Either have a shot at beating Dilbeck; the 126 final should be entertaining.


North’s Josh Elpers faces the classic good news/bad news paradigm.  The good news is the Elpers had a break-out performance in winning his first SIAC title.  The bad news is that Mater Dei’s 2015 State Champ, Nick Lee, is back.  After battling injuries the entire season, the 3-0 Lee has entered the sectional to begin another quest for the top spot at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse. Vincennes Lincoln’s Colton McCrary and Mt. Vernon’s Noah Keller are in contention to advance to the regional.


Mater Dei’s 138-pound, fifth-ranked Blake Jourdan is in position to collect his third sectional championship.  Vincennes Lincoln’s Daniel Miller, North Posey’ Ryan Margin and Clay Singleton will race for a place on the podium.


Mitch Lehman, a Mater Dei senior ranked 16th, is the favorite to claim top honors at 152.  Lehman crushed the field at the SIAC to earn his one seed.  Hunter Baehl, Gibson Southern’s PAC champ, will likely meet Mt. Vernon’s Micah Keller, the Big 8 champ, for an opportunity to bang heads with Lehman.


While Mater Dei senior, Hunter Carr’s record of 2 wins and 4 losses is not impressive, his runner-up SIAC meet performance was. North’s Shawn Coane and Central’s Tyler Tasa would love another shot at Carr; both will likely get that opportunity.  No one should overlook Pike Central’s Colton O’Neal.  Last year, O’Neal pushed State medalist, Isaiah Kemper to the wall before dropping a narrow decision to him.  Gibson Southern’s Cole Dilbeck and Mt. Vernon’s Luke McGennis will also be in the mix.  160 is wide open; six grapplers have a shot at the gold, but only four will advance to the regional.


O’Neal’s team mate, 170 pound Jaylon Owens, has put together a stellar, 30-0 season and gets the top seed.  The Charger from Petersburg hopes to earn a sectional title.  Central’s Kiave Guerrier is dynamic and explosive; the O’Neal/Guerrier final should be exceptionally entertaining.  Top contenders to advance to regional are Wood Memorial’s Nate McDowell, Mater Dei’s Blake Chandler and Gibson Southern’s Lucas Plasse. 



Wood Memorial’s Louis Hoover is the top dog at 182.  Central’s Austin Hall will likely meet Mater Dei’s Seth Orth in the semifinal for a date with Hoover.  As there is no dominant wrestler at 182, if Mt Vernon’s Kaleb McCaffry, North’s Justin Naylor or Parker Rose of Gibson Southern can assert himself, each could find himself going home with the bracket board.


195 is a defensive football player’s dream:  a chance to go one-on-one with a quarterback.  The problem here is that the aforementioned quarterback is Mater Dei’s 10th-ranked Kurtis Wilderman.  No pampered signal-caller, Wilderman is hard-nosed on the mat and the favorite to win the title at 5400 First Avenue.  Chris Alvey of Pike Central, Kyle Lang of Mt. Vernon and Vincennes Lincoln’s Bishop Coomer also look to advance to the regional.


10th-ranked Tristan Choate of Mt. Vernon gets the top seed at 220.  Choate has been solid and looks to top the podium on Saturday.  In his way is Mater Dei sophomore Michael Boots.  Boots has a ton of big match experience and is battle-tested.  On the other side of the bracket, Pike Central’s Jake Sisk brings a 34-3 record, while Payton Halbig of Princeton earned the two seed. 


If you attend, 2016 promises to be a great year.  Mater Dei coach Greg Schaefer graduated 7 starters—five of them regional champions—from last year’s team, yet retains a top-notch squad.  Gibson Southern’s first year coach, DJ Asay, has maintained Gibson Southern’s momentum, while Mt. Vernon celebrates their second, consecutive Big 8 title.  Mike Lapadat’s Central Bears only has two seniors on its roster, while North’s first-year coach, Joe Hancock, brings tremendous energy to the Husky program.  In his second year at the controls in Poseyville, Cody Moll is moving the Vikings in the right direction.


All ten of the schools have competitive grapplers with opportunities to advance.  Regardless of the color of your jersey, Central sectional wrestling fans have cause for excitement.


Vincennes Lincoln, Princeton, North and Central will battle to finish in the top half of the team race.  Expect for Gibson Southern and Mt. Vernon to pile up points and compete for the runner-up slot. 


Whether you are a “Lover” or “Hater”, the outcome will be the same:  Late Saturday afternoon, the crew from 1300 Harmony Way will raise the championship trophy for the 40th consecutive time.  The Wildcats are too strong and too deep for the string to be broken in 2016.


Hook’s Picks:


Don’t miss these semifinals:  113- Mayer vs. McKinney, Dilbeck vs. Fisher.  120- Miller vs. McNeely.  152- Keller vs. Baehl.  160- Coane vs. Carr/Tassa, O’Neal vs. Malone.  170- Brown vs. Garnett.  182- Hall/Orth vs. Brown.  195- Shaw vs. Rolley.  220- Choate vs. Boots, Sisk vs. Halbig.  285- Klem vs. Fleck, Libby vs. Ripple.


Best semifinal matches:  126- Harley Gorman vs. Joe Happe.  Happe beat Gorman 1-0 in December.  Both athletes are big-effort grapplers.  As this match has semi-state ramifications, expect an intense six minutes. 

145- Bethel vs. Wilson.  Wilson upset Bethel at the Big 8 championships.  Bethel will be bent on evening the score.


Best finals matches:  170- Owens vs. Guerrier. These two are wide-open.  Expect fireworks.


220 & 285- Normally, toward the end of the day, the bleachers clear.  If you look to beat the traffic, you will likely miss some of the day’s best matches.  In the semifinal and finals, there will be significant upsets at 220 and 285.




*Get up early and have breakfast at the Pie Pan. After your omelet, (Hookticia prefers pancakes) have a piece of pumpkin or pecan pie...you don’t have to make weight! 
*If home takes you north or east, ask any Central or Mater Dei fan for directions to the Hornville Tavern.  They have a family room and a smoked pork chop that is to D-I-E for. 

At the corner of 41 and I-64, you will find Stoll’s County Inn.  This is the best buffet you will find and has an Amish influence.  Tell ‘em Yoder sent you!

If you like sushi or hibachi, Fujiyama offers the best value for Japanese cuisine in the city. It is Mrs. Hook's favorite place to eat. Banzai! 
*Founded in 1854, Evansville Central It is the oldest high school in continuous operation west of the Allegheny Mountains. Revel in the history! 

Edited by hook and half
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I have to ask, you REALLY think Happe will be involved in a sectionals match that has Semi State Ramifications?


The Happe vs Gorman match looks to be very important if they want to advance to Semi-State. The loser will most likely get 3rd in this Sectional and then face the loser between Craig and Willis first round Regionals to get to Semi-State.

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