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  1. 3 points
    By JEREMY HINES Thehines7@gmail.com “You’re still in this. It’s not over.” Elliott Rodgers kept hearing those words coming from his corner Saturday night in the championship match of the 152-pound weight class at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse. With under a minute to go in the match Rodgers trailed Greenfield’s Cooper Noehre 7-4. Rodgers was wrestling for an individual title and a chance to all but secure a team title for the Irish. “It was nerve wracking,” Rodgers said. “It’s scary to be trailing like that. I don’t like it. But, you just have to think if you win, you win. If you lose, you lose. The coaches are in my corner yelling that it’s not over. That kept me going.” Rodgers earned an escape point to cut Noehre’s lead to 7-5. Then, with under 10 seconds remaining, he earned a takedown to tie the score and force overtime. It was the third overtime meeting this season between the two rivals. This time Rodgers pulled out a move he has been working on in practice but hadn’t shown Noehre yet – an inside trip. The move worked, and Rodgers won the match. The victory gave him his first state title and helped Cathedral win its second team title in as many years. “Elliott just grinded it out,” Cathedral coach Sean McGinley said. “He was down points but he didn’t panic and he battled back. He didn’t just do it in the finals, he grinded out wins in the quarterfinals and on Friday night.” Rodger’s teammate, senior Jordan Slivka sealed the team championship for the Irish in the next match. Slivka took on Portage’s No. 1-ranked Donnell Washington Jr. in the 160-pound championship. Washington beat Slivka 8-3 during the regular season and appeared on his way to beating him again in the final. Washington took Slivka down early in the match and then cut him (gave him a free escape). Washington continued his dominance for most of the first two periods. Then, in the final minute of the match, Slivka came alive. The Ohio University commit scored seven points in the final minute to win the match 12-7. That victory ensured no other team could catch the Irish in points. Slivka won his first individual state championship last season, and coincidentally, that victory also sealed the team title for the Irish. “This title felt better than last year’s,” Slivka said. “My goal wasn’t to be the best wrestler at Cathedral. I didn’t think I could ever accomplish that with guys like Blake Rypel and Lance Ellis. But no other Cathedral team has won two titles, and I wanted to be able to say I was the best team captain.” Slivka’s wrestling shirt has the word “clutch” on the back of it – one that coach McGinley feels is appropriate for the senior. “He comes through when people count him out,” McGinley said. “Washington is extremely, extremely talented and tough. He was on us that first period. We just wanted to stay close and ride it out. Slivka never lost faith and he pulled out that win.” Going into the final Cathedral looked to be in great shape to claim the team title. The Irish had four wrestling for weight-class championships and a small lead in the team standings. But things got a little dicey in the early goings. Irish freshman sensation Zeke Seltzer lost the 113 pound final to returning state champion, No. 1-ranked senior Jacob Moran of Portage 3-0. Then Cathedral’s Alex Mosconi fell to No. 1-ranked Matt Lee, 5-2 in the 145-pound final. When Avon’s Asa Garcia earned a pin over Roncalli’s Alec Viduya in the 132 pound final, suddenly things got interesting. Avon still had Carson Brewer to wrestle at 182 pounds. Brewer was the heavy favorite in the match, and if he pinned his opponent, Avon had a chance to take the team title. That’s when Rodgers and Slivka stepped up and won back-to-back matches to eliminate that possibility. “If we polled everyone they would have probably said we were an underdog in three of the matches and probably a push in the fourth,” McGinley said. “We knew the odds were against us, and we just needed someone who was going to step up and pull it through.” In all, Cathedral sent five wrestlers to the state tournament. Rodgers and Slivka won their weight classes. Seltzer and Mosconi placed second and Lukasz Walendzak finished 8th at 126.
  2. 2 points
    Wrestlers of the Year 1A- Silas Allred of Shenandoah 2A- AJ Fowler of Calumet 3A- Jordan Slivka of Cathedral Coaches of the Year 1A- Tony Currie of Adams Central 2A- Chad Shepherd of Western 3A- Sean McGinley of Cathedral Mr. Gorilla Asa Garcia of Avon 1st Runner-up Nick South of Columbus East 2nd Runner-up Cayden Rooks of Columbus East
  3. 1 point
    By STEVE KRAH stvkrh905@gmail.com Jesse Mendez had a “blast” in punctuating his freshmen wrestling season at Crown Point High School with a 2019 IHSAA title. The 126-pounder started off his finals match with a “blast double” takedown and went on to a 6-0 win against Avon junior Raymond Rioux to cap a 42-0 season. Mendez reigned in a stacked weight division. He pinned Western freshman Hayden Shepherd in 1:02 Friday and Mt. Vernon (Fortville) senior Chase Wilkerson in 3:58 in the quarterfinals before earning a 13-4 major decision against Jimtown senior Hunter Watts in the semifinals. “He’s a tough wrestler and a tough opponent to get by,” said Mendez of Watts, who was a champion at 120 in 2018, runner-up at 113 in 2017 and sixth at 106 in 2016. Rioux, who had placed third at 120 in 2018 and sixth at 106 in 2017, beat Yorktown senior Brayden Curtis 3-1 in the semifinals. Curtis was a champion at 113 in 2018 and at 106 in 2017 after finishing seventh at 106 in 2016. And yet Mendez was dominant. How did that happen? “I work hard in the (practice) room,” said Mendez. “My coaches and I are always trying to get to my attacks more often. I just trust in what they’ve been teaching me and it’s been working.” Bulldogs coach Branden Lorek has been impressed with the ability and work ethic of Mendez. “He’s got all the attributes — he’s fast, strong, physical, smart,” says Lorek. “He listens very well. He’s very coachable and a student of the sport. “He’s the first guy in the room and the last guy to leave. For a freshman, he’s not afraid to speak up and pick guys up. He’s a welcome addition.” While there plenty of eyes on him at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and on television, Mendez was not intimidated. “I’ve been wrestling in big tournaments my whole life,” said Mendez, 15. “I’ve been in tight situations in front of big crowds. “I think I thrive off of it.” Mendez is confident in his abilities. “If I wrestle my match I can beat anybody,” said Mendez. “If I get my attacks going, there’s nobody who can stop me. “I think I can really open kids up a lot. I’m really good at moving my feet and my hands.” As his head coach puts it, Mendez wants to “be the hero.” “He wants to go out and get bonus points and do whatever he can for the team,” said Lorek. “If we bump him up a weight class, he has no problem doing that. If we need him to wrestle for a major, he’ll get the job done.” Around 7 or 8, Mendez put aside his other sports and focused on the mat. He hooked up with the Region Wrestling Academy. “Those coaches are great,” said Mendez, who grew up in the Lake Central district before moving to Crown Point in middle school. Hector and Monica Mendez have three children — Payton, Jesse and Lyla. “My family’s really important to me,” said Jesse. “They sacrifice a lot for me.” There won’t be much time spent basking in his state title for Mendez. After a brief break, he’s going to start working again to get ready for meets like the FloNationals, Iowa Folkstyle Nationals, World Team Trials, Super 32, Fargo and Who’s No. 1?. In other words, the wrestling world will be hearing more from Jesse Mendez.
  4. 1 point
    The top ranked 195lber in the state an our top Junior wrestler, Silas Allred, has committed to wrestle for Nebraska. Allred, hailing from Shenandoah just north of Indianapolis, will join four-time state champion Chad Red on the Husker roster. Allred is ranked anywhere from 5th-7th by all the national ranking services and atop 30 prospect for the class of 2020. Currently he sports a spectacular 90-2 record over his three years that includes a 5th place finish at state in 2018. His long list of national accolades includes placing 3rd at the Super 32 this past fall, a Cadet Folkstyle National title, and a 4th place finish in Cadet Greco-Roman. Allred had plenty of offers from many of the top programs in the country. The programs on his final list included state schools Purdue and Indiana along with North Carolina State and Maryland. Currently he is undecided on a major, but is leaning towards a business degree at Nebraska. Projecting at 197lbs for his collegiate career, Allred stated he was drawn to Lincoln for a plethora of reasons. “I chose Nebraska because it felt like home. After visiting a few colleges, no place made me feel even close to the way Nebraska did,” Allred said in response to his commitment. “I knew in my spirit the search was over. Not to mention the coaching staff and RTC is absolutely incredible. It is the perfect fit for my athletic and academic goals.” Good luck to Silas as he pursues not only his state goals, but national and international goals thi off-season.
  5. 1 point
    By STEVE KRAH stvkrh905@gmail.com Jake Lone has developed an edge in his junior season as a NorthWood High School wrestler. Lone was second at the Elkhart Sectional, third at the Goshen Regional and a qualifier for the Fort Wayne Semistate as a 160-pound freshman. As a 170-pounder junior, Lone won sectional and regional titles, placed second at semistate and then eighth at the IHSAA State Finals. As a 182-pound junior, he is 30-3 after winning another sectional title. The 2019 Goshen Regional is Feb. 2. Lone, who first competed in Indiana State Wrestling Association events at age 4, is gaining confidence. “As the season has progressed, I think I’ve developed a little bit of an attitude out on the mat,” says Lone. “There’s a little more aggression.” Shoulder surgery after the 2018 State Finals meant that Lone was away from competition for the spring and summer. He was only cleared to play football for NorthWood during the week of the season opener. Switched from linebacker to defensive end, he had a sensational season while helping the 2018 Panthers aka “Black Crunch” go 11-1 under head coach Nate Andrews. Lone was selected for Class 4A honorable mention all-state honors by the Associated Press. Then it was back to the mat. “I think I’ve gotten tremendously better,” says Lone of his progress since the beginning of the 2018-19 wrestling season. “I’ve been getting back in the swing of things after surgery last spring, getting my conditioning up and knocking all the rust off.” “Having Coach Andrews is the room to push me has been great.” Andrews, who won a 171-pound IHSAA state title as a NorthWood senior in 1996, took over as wrestling head coach this winter. He has watched Lone get better and better. “It certainly opens up his offense when he’s lighter on his feet and when his motion is vertical and horizontal at the same time with 1-2 and 3-4 combinations,” says Andrews. “When he opens that up and puts pressure on people, he can be dangerous. “A lot of he team aspects and leadership qualities that he learns in football he brings to the wrestling mat.” Lone has fed off Andrews’ enthusiasm and intensity. “What I get from him is always pushing the pace, staying aggressive, never stop,” says Lone. “It’s that never-quit attitude.” Lone knows that there are differences and similarities in his two sports. “Football shape is short bursts,” says Lone. “Wrestling shape you have to go the full six minutes without stopping.” While he played some wide receiver or tight end on offense, Lone really enjoyed playing on the other wide of the ball. The hand and body fighting and one-on-one battles that a defensive linemen encounters translate to the wrestling circle. “I love defense,” says Lone. “I was able to use by wrestling technique for tackling.” Andrews, who counts Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Famer Dennis Lewis plus Jim Matz and Elisio Roa as assistants, says beefing up the NorthWood schedule was helpful for Lone. “He was able to see a little tougher competition,” says Andrews. The Panthers took on LaPorte, Merrillville and Knox at the LaPorte Super Duals, Churubusco, Eastside, Garrett and Jay County at the Fort Wayne Carroll Super Duals. NorthWood also faced Wawasee, Goshen and Jimtown in duals at home and took part in the 32-team Al Smith Classic at Mishawaka. Inclement weather Jan. 19 caused cancellation of the Northern Lakes Conference varsity and junior varsity tournaments. “For our program and where we are now, we were devastated,” says Andrews. “A week ago we were really in good shape to do our best and climb another rung on the ladder as we try to build our program.” That meet was to be the last for JV grapplers. “The kids who come out and go through this grinder of a season, they didn’t get rewarded,” says Andrews. “They didn’t get to play in their Super Bowl. It’s very, very unfortunate.” Andrews said the focus turns to individuals still alive in the state tournament series, but he is still trying to “rally the troops” for those who saw their season come to an end. The Panthers are young with just two seniors on the squad. “I’m looking forward to the future,” says Andrews. Jake has been in wrestling practice rooms since age 3. His father, Rod Lone, was head coach at NorthWood for seven seasons. After two years as a volunteer assistant at Jimtown, he has returned to NorthWood as head middle school coach. He is also a volunteer with the high school and helps the NorthWood Wrestling Club. A former wrestler at Clinton Prairie High School and then for Tom Jarman at Manchester College (now Manchester University), Rod Lone has witnessed a rise in his eldest son’s confidence level. “With that confidence he’s gotten more aggressive and that’s shown in his matches,” says Rod Lone. “He’s never been that fast-twitch, go-get-em kind of kid. This year, he’s finally starting to get there.” “He’s trying to control the match instead of letting the match come to him.” Says Andrews, “He should be a pretty confident kid the way it is. He’s been on the mat a long time. He had a good sophomore campaign.” Getting down to Indianapolis and competing at Bankers Life Fieldhouse has helped fuel the self-assurance. “After going to State last year and having all that experience, I feel I know what it’s like,” says Jake Lone. Rod and Denise Lone’s second son — eighth grader Kaden — just won an ISWA Middle School State title at 132 pounds. He has a chance to be the first NorthWood wrestler to go unbeaten through their middle school career (sixth, seventh and eighth grade) with three Big 11 Conference championships. Jake and Kaden work out together and use the wrestling room in the family basement. “We go down there and roll around a lot,” says Jake Lone. “It’s fun.” Given the size differential, Kaden has to use his quickness against his big brother. “He can’t muscle things and just rely on strength,” says Jake Lone. “That’s been great bond at home,” says Rod Lone. “They push each other in a very positive way.”
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