WARSAW – A top four finish.
That’s the goal for a quartet of area prep wrestlers, including a pair from Warsaw, for the Merrillville Semistate Saturday.
A top four finish punches a ticket for a spot in the State Finals.
The Warsaw dymanic duo of freshman Kyle Hatch and senior Anthony Hendrickson, along with standouts Tippecanoe Valley junior Devin Childers and sophomore Garrett Bell, will hit the mats at Merrillville with that in mind.
Hatch continued his fine freshman campaign with a runner-up finish last weekend in the 106-pound class at the loaded Rochester Regional, which was dominated by Penn. Hatch, who earned a sectional championship two weeks ago at Plymouth, takes a 33-6 mark into semi state action.
Hendrickson extended his high school career by taking fourth at 195 in the regional round at Rochester. He boasts a 25-11 mark in his final season.
Warsaw coach Justin Smith likes the draws on Saturday for both of his grapplers.
“I think that both boys have competitive draws for the semi state on Saturday,” said Smith. “Kyle is wrestling a kid from Hanover Central with a similar win loss record, and even though Anthony is wrestling a number one seed from one of the other regionals, he has a lot of confidence going in because he beat a higher seeded wrestler in his first round at Rochester.”
Smith says it’s been all about just fine-tuning this week in preparation.
“At this point we are just working on keeping their conditioning up and working to their strengths on the mat,” Smith remarked. “We are not making any major changes to ether Kyle’s or Anthony’s wrestling. It is just important this week to fix little things here and there, make sure they are ready to execute their offense on their feet, and working on any specific things that we feel their opponents might run in the first round.
“Both boys are excited for the chance to wrestle at semi state. It is a great learning experience for Kyle as a freshman, and for Anthony semi state is a continuation of a great senior season. The goal for Saturday is to take things one match at a time, and to get to the ticket round with a chance at qualifying for state.”
Valley will be well-represented Saturday by its outstanding duo of Childers and Bell. Childers placed third at 132 and Bell was fourth at 170 at the Rochester Regional. Childers, who was runner-up at the sectional, is 37-4. Bell, who was a sectional titlist at Plymouth, boasts a 34-5 mark.
The Merrillville Semistate commences Saturday at 9:30 a.m. ET. The site contains qualifiers from regionals at Rochester, Calumet, Crown Point and Logansport.
The top four wrestlers in each weight class Saturday earn a berth in the State Finals set for Feb. 21-22 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.