MERRILLVILLE – Strong starts by a pair of area wrestlers carried them to state finals berths Saturday with impressive semi state performances.
Warsaw’s Kyle Hatch and Tippecanoe Valley’s Devin Childers each extended their prep seasons one more week with outstanding efforts in the Merrillville Semistate.
Freshman Hatch earned a fourth-place finish among competitors at 106 and junior Childers was a runner-up at 132.
Powerhouse Penn claimed the semi state team title with 125 points. The Kingsmen, who won their first title since 1998, will send nine wrestlers to the State Finals.
The top four finishers in each weight class Saturday earned a spot in the season’s finale next Friday and Saturday.
Hatch and Childers advance to the State Finals, which begins on Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Hatch defeated Hanover Central senior Isaac Cortez by a pin with 15 seconds left in the third period to start his day. He then topped Lafayette Harrison senior Daniel Davis by a 9-4 decision in the second round.
Hatch, who is now 35-9 on the season. did drop his final two semi state matches. He lost 20-3 in the semifinals to Griffith freshman Jeremiah Reitz and then was stopped 14-1 in the final round by Lowell freshman Colton Cummings.
“I think even though Kyle lost the last two matches of the day, he still had a successful semi state,” said Warsaw coach Justin Smith. “Other than giving up the first take down against Cortez, he dominated that match. In the ticket round he had a really tough match against Davis, I think he took 6-8 shots in the first and second periods before he was able to score off his feet. Davis surprised him with a shot at the start of the third and Kyle was able to defend, score and then put Davis on his back. I think that Kyle was so focused on the second round that he let the third round match get away from him. Reitz was able to stop Kyle’s shot and put him on his back at the start of the match. After that Kyle had trouble getting his offense going. However, he was able to throw Reitz in the third period, but Reitz was able to roll through.
“Coming out of semi state as a 4 seed is tough, but Kyle beat two good senior wrestlers to qualify for state, so I don’t think it is going to phase him. Like last week, we just need to help him keep his conditioning up and work on the little things that could be the difference between a win or a loss on Friday night down in Indy. Regardless, we are very proud of what Kyle was able to accomplish today, and also the way Anthony (Hendrickson) was able to end his senior campaign with a thrilling overtime match in the first round.”
Senior Anthony Hendrickson of the Tigers saw his career come to a close Saturday. Hendrickson lost 3-1 in overtime in the first round to Portage junior Matt Hedrick. Hendrickson finishes his senior season at 24-11.
Childers was able to come up with close wins to earn his semi state runner-up finish. He topped Delphi senior Walker Alderman 10-3 in the first round to start the day. Childers then beat Calumet senior Alec Noworul 6-4 in the second round before edging Mishawaka sophomore Daniel Hesch 7-6 in the semifinals.
Childers lost by pin to Seth Carithers of McCutcheon in 3:18 in the title match at 132. Childers is now 44-5 on the season.
Valley sophomore Garrett Bell lost in the first round Saturday. Delphi sophomore Hunter Mote topped Bell 9-2 in action in the 170-pound class. Bell finishes at 33-5 on the season.