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Article: 2019 East Chicago Semi-State Preview

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By Chad Hollenbaugh

The annual region rumble will again invade the mammoth East Chicago Central gymnasium this Saturday morning.   And after an exclusive 12 month tour of Europe, Scandinavia and the Subcontinent, Karl Hungus has returned to both fix the cable and regale the region rats and rat wannabes with his potent predictions. 



            Three Duneland Conference powers look to battle it out for the Semi-State title.  Merrillville has used their outstanding depth to win both the conference title as well as sectional and regional crowns.  Rival Portage has been nipping at the heels of the Pirates and their frontline hammers could pull them through to a title this weekend.  Crown Point is not far behind and will definitely be a player this weekend.  Penn and upstart Culver Academies will be looking to break the region stranglehold over this semi state.

The bracket gods did not line up things right as the two prospective top lightweights are on the same side of the bracket in Culver Military’s 2nd ranked Brennen Cernus and Crown Point’s 5th ranked Stephan Roberson.  One of these two studs will be sent to the 3rd/4th match this Saturday.  On the other side of the bracket, Merrillville’s mighty mite Malik Hall appears to have an excellent shot at making it to the finals.  The final spot should come down to Lafayette Central Catholic’s regional champ Alex Skees and Chesterton’s Luke Steno.

The region is usually particularly tough in the lighter weight classes, and the 113 class Is no exception as number 1 ranked Jacob Moran of Portage continues in his quest of a state title.  Moran has not been seriously tested by anyone in state this year.  Look for him to cruise to the title.  4th ranked Gio Diaz of Wheeler is on the other side of the bracket and will most like make a return trip to Banker’s Life.  Mishawaka’s Brodie Fogerty appears to have gotten the sweetest draw in this bracket and Frontier’s Colin Reagan (ranked 10th) or Merrillville’s Martin Cruz (ranked 7th) have the death draw as both these potential podium placers will likely meet up in a ticket round tussle.

This weight class might produce the first real fireworks of the day and some legitimate dog fights for that coveted ticket to Indy.  3rd ranked Riley Battich of Crown Point and 8th ranked Trey Finnearty of Culver Military look to lock up a state birth in their quarter brackets.  The other two groups of 4 should produce some awesome match ups.  Wawasee’s sophomore stud, Jace Alexander was able to slide past rival Vince Sparrow at regional via an injury default.  As a result, he should be able to punch a ticket to state.  The final slot will likely come down to Duneland rivals Ty Haskins of Portage and Danny Tolin of Chesterton.  Tolin has had the slight advantage recently but anything can happen at semi state.

Karl’s favorite guitarist from the 1970s Smokey and Bandit series, Jerry Reed, once sang a song titled When Your Hot Your Hot, When Your Not Your Not.  No this was not a comparison of ontherise219 and Broken Towel Rack, but it does describe the Penn Regional and how those wrestlers will play out at semi state.  Mishawaka’s Brendon Mark got hot at the right time and won a regional title.  That put him in excellent position to make a semi state run to Indy.  Seniors Trevor Penrod from South Bend Riley and Logan Hill of Penn did not have the hot streak and face longer odds. McCutheon’s 16th ranked Evan Burge appears to be lined up to power through his quarter bracket and punch his state ticket.  The class of the bracket is in the bottom half where top ranked frosh Jesse Mendez of Crown Point and veteran stud Brock Peele of Portage will likely battle in the semi finals.

There looks to little drama in this weight class as the champs from the four regionals look to be the favorites to also qualify for state.  Geremia Brooks of Wawasee is ranked fourth in the state and only has one blemish on his record. Undefeated Andres Moreno of Lowell looms on the other side of the bracket with a possible semi state title on the line.  I like Rensselaer Central’s Elijah Hickman and Portage grinder Rickey Hegedus as the other two state streeters in this mix.

This bracket appears to be a little more topsy-turvy than 132 as several potential upsets appear to possible.  This should make for a very interesting weight class. Two great ticket round possibilities might take place in the top half of the bracket as Merrillville’s Anthony Rivera and Mishawaka’s Gabe Weeks will likely square off with a state berth on the line.  A similar prospect might emerge in the second quarter bracket with Chesterton’s Cade Johnson and Harrison’s AJ Poindexter likely to meet in the ticket round.  The bottom half of the bracket seems a little more settled with LaPorte Slicer regional champ Tyler Nicely and longtime Wawasee Warrior Braxton Alexander likely to meet in the semis.  Alexander is the class of this weight class.

A couple of relative upstarts look to control this bracket as 8th ranked Jacob Burford of Crown Point and small school stud Jorden Dougglas of Attica (6th ranked) appear on opposite sides of the bracket.  These two are looking to make a name for themselves on the state level next week.  The fight for the other two state berths will be hotly contested as Merrillville’s Jacob Maldonado should be tested by Wawasee’s Garrett Stuckman and Penn’s Jeffrey Harper will have his hands full with either Lake Central’s Daniel Park or Morton’s Isiah Watts.

Much like the 145 bracket, the 152 set of 16 will feature two state ranked grapplers and a host of others looking to break out onto the state scene.  The big dog in this weight class is eighth ranked Chesterton Trojan Brock Ellis.  He owns a big 17-5 victory over the other state ranked grappler in this class, Cole Cervantes of Griffith.  Both of these region rumblers possess the talent to win on Friday night in Indy.  Regional champs Drew Mason of Mishawaka and Spencer Phillips of McCutcheon appear to peaking at the right time and have the right draw to advance.

Only two state ranked wrestlers are in this bracket as the rest of this semi state seems to be trying to avoid Portage super stud, Donell Washington.  The leader of the Indian squad is a runaway favorite to dominate at East Chicago.  All others will be fighting for runner up status barring a huge upset.  13th ranked Brock Merkel of Harrison will likely have his hands full with Abel Verbeek of Lowell. LaPorte Slicer Matt Neff and Culver Academy’s freshman Braden Welch appear to be peaking at the right time and have good draws to make it to the Circle City.

A deep and talented field of middle weights will entertain wrestling fans in the region this Saturday.  Most non-partisan fans will be hoping for the rubber match between junior class rivals Graham Calhoun of Plymouth (2nd ranked) and 4th ranked Joseph Walker of Mishawaka.  They have split two previous matches this year.  This could be a potential match for all the marbles next week.  Portage wrestles a killer schedule and that should prepare grizzled vet Josh Warmick to make a state run in the bottom half of the bracket.  The last spot will be hard fought with three super sophs battling for the final state slot.  Culver Military’s Eli Pack, Merrillville’s Jason Streck, and Kankakee Valley’s regional champ Aiden Sneed will bet duking it out for that 4th ticket to Indy.

Karl Hungus loves watching the upper weights battle and the 182 weight class is a personal favorite.  East Chicago’s Semi State will not disappoint this year as a host of studs populate bracket.  In the top quarter bracket, regional champ Jack Hargan of Attica will be in a dogfight with the physical Noah Perez of LaPorte. Frosh phenom Andrew Donahue of Culver Military look to have the easiest path to Indy in this bracket.  In the bottom half….Whoa Nelly!  5th ranked Jacob Bates of Chesterton will likely brawl with 2nd ranked Jake LaPlace of Mishawaka with a state berth on the line.  This one will be worth the price of admission. The last spot in this tough, tough class will likely come down to Penn’s Noah Brown and Merrillville’s Khris Walton.  A match that might play a role in the team race. 

Wow!  Another absolutely loaded class with athletic brawlers. Four state ranked studs will be in the fight of their lives with other lesser known studs trying to punch that elusive ticket to Banker’s Life.  Each quarter bracket features matches that will be so tough to call.  One loss Jacob Trefan of Culver Military will likely battle 2nd ranked Ewan Donavan for the golden ticket.  Seniors Braden Oakley of Harrison and Rockne Hurley of Penn will duke it out for the second slot.  The third quarter bracket is a best.  Any of the four grapplers could take that ticket to state.  Sophomore Bobby Babcock is Hungus’ pick to click.  Triton’s James “Bo” Snyder avenged his sectional loss and will be in a slobber knocker with veteran Crown Point Bulldog Ethan Potosky.  Wow!

These upper weight classes at East Chicago are absolute meat grinders and so difficult to predict.  Merrillville’s Drew Bailey came up big at regional and defeated neighborhood rival Art Fowler.   This put the 10th ranked Bailey in a great position to qualify for state this weekend.  The 2nd ranked Fowler dropped to the last quarter bracket where he will have to contend with the sensational John Thomas of South Bend Adams.  Two of the best big man athletes in the state will be on display in this ticket round tilt.  Joey Kidwell of West Lafayette has a sparkling 40-1 record but must contend with Caveman Garrett Sandefur for that elusive state slot.


Wrapping up the East Chicago Semi state with the Big Boys.  It appears that three of the four quarter brackets should go the way of chalk and the final slot will be a great ticket round match.  Massive Alex Cartwright of LaVille is 5th ranked and coming off his best win of the year defeating 2nd ranked Yehezequal DeVault of Penn in the regional finals.  Cartwright has been a stud for 3 years and has just had a some bad luck at semi state.  He can contend for a state title. DeVault is on the other side of the bracket but will have no cakewalk in his ticket round as he will likely face regional champ Nick Garcia of Lake Central.  Will Crider of Harrison and Anthony Atria of Merrillville will look to continue the tradition of fine heavyweight wrestlers at their respective schools.

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The final match at 170 seemed to last 45 minutes.  But the last 5 seconds made it well worth the wait.  Last second (or last 10th of a second) takedown by Calhoun steals the match.  

The super duck that LaPlace had in the first round was a thing of beauty.   I think his opponent sprawled so hard he left teeth marks on the mat.

I was very impressed with Cartwright from LaVille.  He has very good balance for any weight, especially a big man.

Also wanted to say congrats to Lafayette CC on getting what I believe is their first ever qualifier.  This was a program that was discontinued only to be started up again just a few short years ago.  They have produced some good kids in a short time.  

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1 hour ago, hogleg said:

Also wanted to say congrats to Lafayette CC on getting what I believe is their first ever qualifier.  This was a program that was discontinued only to be started up again just a few short years ago.  They have produced some good kids in a short time.  

If....only....there.....was a place to fact check.



He's actually the second state qualifier

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That is waaaaaay too much searching for my simple mind to grasp.  I stand corrected.

I don't search around enough on here to even know how to get to that page.  Learn something new every day

Edited by hogleg

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9 minutes ago, hogleg said:

That is waaaaaay too much searching for my simple mind to grasp.  I stand corrected.

I don't search around enough on here to even know how to get to that page.  Learn something new every day

That should take 30 seconds to find a team's profile page. 

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