PLYMOUTH — It is probably a safe bet that Plymouth head coach Bob Read has never heard Taylor Swift’s song “22” in which the pop star reminds the listener frequently that she is, indeed, “feeling 22.” Nevertheless, Read and Swift had that same feeling in common Saturday afternoon, as did the rest of the Plymouth wrestling program.
The Rockies found themselves in third place heading into the championship rounds of Saturday’s wrestling sectional in Big Red country. But when all was said and done, Plymouth had rallied to pass both Wawasee (199) and Culver Academies (216) to claim its 22nd team sectional title in program history with a final score of 218.5. This marked the fourth title for the Rockies in the past five years.
Though it was Plymouth that held the ultimate bragging rights, there was plenty of noise being made by other area wrestlers as well.
Wawasee was hoping to hoist its first sectional trophy since 2010, but ended up in third. Despite not getting the team results they wanted, the Warriors still advanced 10 wrestlers to next week’s regional at Rochester. That total tied CMA and Plymouth for the most amount of individuals moving on.
The Warriors placed four wrestlers into championship bouts, yielding two first place finishers.
Ricardo Romo found himself in a great position as the top seed at 106 and defended that ranking by winning his class’ respective bracket. Romo received a bye and then forfeit to start his day before pinning Tippecanoe Valley’s Haley Hoover in the first period of their semifinal match. Romo then earned a major decision over Triton’s Connor Pitney in the title with a final score of 13-5.
Braxton Alexander also held his bracket’s top seed at 120. The sophomore picked up his second-career individual title (113 pounds, 2016) with a 7-1 decision over Zane DeVault of Plymouth in the title tilt. Alexander earned pins over Bremen’s Matthew Harmon and Caston’s James Kell to get to the championship round.
Geremia Brooks represented the Warriors in the 126-pound title but fell to CMA’s Adam Davis by way of a 6-2 decision. Brooks was the No. 2 seed in the bracket to Davis’ top seed.
The other Warrior in a championship bout was Jeremiah Dilley at 220. The senior found himself in a unique situation as his championship match against top-seeded Sam Stayton of Plymouth would be the deciding factor in the sectional team standings.
Stayton had a wall of his teammates taking up the one sideline during the match, shortly thereafter, CMA wrestlers surrounded the opposite end of the mat, cheering on Dilley as his victory would ensure the Eagles team victory. An electric scene put on by CMA and Plymouth spectators was met with a 2-0 lead from Dilley, but Stayton flipped the script, and Dilley, to earn a win by fall and a team title for the Rockies.
The Warriors were proud to put four into finals, but Wawasee also knows it could have accomplished more at the sectional than it did.
“You could tell that we were just wrestling other people’s matches,” said Wawasee head coach Frank Bumgardner. “We weren’t stubborn, like we talked about earlier in the year. Other teams just did a great job at sticking to what they do and we need to improve on that.
“I don’t know the last time Wawasee got 10 through, that’s a good day. That’s a step in the right direction. We were hoping to win, we were in a position to win, we didn’t capitalize so we’ll go back and get better.”
Wawasee’s 10 regional qualifiers are the most for the program since sending 11 through in 2011. Wawasee also sent 10 through in 2010.
Garrett Stuckman (113), Raymon Torres (152), Jeremiah Ponsler (160), Alejandro Castro (182), Damien Rodriguez (195) and Elisha Tipping (285) rounded out Wawasee’s list of regional ticker holders.
The Triton Trojans sent seven through to regional after placing three into finals.
Connor Pitney fell to Wawasee’s Ricardo Romo in the title match at 106 after earning a fall over Mason Shively (Rochester) in the semifinals.
At 113 it was Nate Riggins that found himself having a surprise day. The sophomore upset top-seeded Garrett Stuckman (Wawasee) after being on the verge of losing a major decision. Riggins rallied to beat Stuckman with a pin before falling in the championship to Robert White of CMA, 14-4.
The last Trojan finalist was James Snyder at 170. Snyder pinned CMA’s William Kearney and used a major decision (17-9) to get by Bryce Baker of Rochester in the semifinals. Top-seeded Colten Schuler proved to be too much for Snyder as the Plymouth stud pinned Snyder for the title.
Joining that trio at the regional will be Bryce Swihart (120), Malachi Greene (126), Marcus Brown (132 and Cam Scarberry (195).
“They had great effort all day,” Triton head coach Ron Brown said of his athletes. “I think our coaches did a good job at preparing them through the week.
“Nate Riggins, who would’ve seen that coming? What a great job he did Malchi had a great match with Brooks of Wawasee and we’re looking forward to what’s going to happen next weekend. Just looking at how this sectional is shaking out right now, you can see why it’s rated fourth in the state. We have a bunch of great kids from different schools and it says great things about the coaches around the area and what they’re doing.
“Vincent Helton had a disappointing day, but, I’ll tell you something, he is probably one of the top two hardest workers on our team. He’s really turned a corner and his matches were tight today, but unfortunately it didn’t happen for him this year. I can say right now that he’ll be a kid next year that we’ll see moving on to regional.”
Warsaw found itself boasting one champion and a total of three regional qualifiers after all was said and done Saturday afternoon.
Kyle Hatch rolled through the 152-pound bracket to claim his fourth career sectional title. Hatch was a winner by fall in both of his first two matches. The senior pinned Culver’s Zach Ditmire in 29 seconds in the quarterfinals and used 1:25 to pin Triton’s Lee Mullet in the semifinals. In the championship match Hatch defeated CMA’s Jacob Trefren with a 20-3 tech fall.
Hatch will be joined at the regional by teammates Jose Grimmett (132) and Christian Taylor (145).
Grimmett downed Wawasee’s Isiah Faurote 4-3 to start his day and then punched his regional ticket with an 8-2 decision over Noah Wootten (Rochester). Taylor, meanwhile, fell to top-seeded Gavin Banks in the semifinals after beating Valley’s Chevy Teeter 4-1. Taylor earned his regional berth with a 12-0 major decision over Triton’s Ryan Snyder.
Warsaw head coach Kris Hueber was focused on his young squad making the little improvements from last week’s conference meet.
“I thought we did a pretty good job today,” Hueber stated. “We had a few 50-50 matches, we thought we had a good chance. A couple of our young guys did a nice job, I was happy with their execution. Whether it was mental fatigue or the tournament catching up with them, we hit a couple of rough bumps, but I was still pretty happy. The intensity in the room isn’t where I need it to be, but we did a pretty good job on the stuff we talked about last week, not giving up the easy stuff and giving wins away. I thought we did a nice job with that.”
Saturday’s story from Valley’s camp came by way of 106-pound Haley Hoover.
The sophomore took fourth at 106 to become the first girl in Valley wrestling history to advance to the regional and the only girl to advance from Plymouth’s field on Saturday.
Hoover received two forfeits on the day and fell to top-seeded Ricardo Romo in the semifinals. In the place match Hoover fell to Rochester’s Mason Shively.
Hoover will pack her bags for regional and be joined by teammates Jordan Owens (138) and Tyler Manuszak (182).
Owens punched his regional ticket in the wrestle-back rounds with win over Triton’s Riley Chickering (9-5) and Culver’s Dakota Bennett (5-3). Ownes then fell in the place match by fall to Rochester’s Haydn Prater.
Manuszak beat Triton’s Vincent Helton 8-7 to start his day then fell in the semifinals before wrestling back to a regional berth by defeating Rochester’s Xavier Ivan by fall. Manuszak fell to Alex Castro (Wawasee) in the third place match.
“We’re definitely making progress,” Valley head coach Kyler Kearby said upon sending three on to the regional after having no berths last season. “My goal going into it was to have at least three, it would have been nice to have a few more. But, three is definitely better than last year. It hurts for the guys that are going out, but it feels good to have three advancing.”