SYRACUSE – It’s an unfamiliar sound, feel and mood within the Wawasee wrestling program. And all of that was on display Thursday, as a swagger-filled Warrior team took its new No. 1 ranking into the Hardwood Teepee and overwhelmed Goshen 45-18 in the NLC dual.
Wawasee, ranked No. 1 by Indianamat.com in Class 2-A, started slow against the perennial power RedHawks but recovered with a pair of signature wins and a lot of moxie.
After Goshen took a 15-8 lead following a forfeit, Wawasee used a gutty 3-2 decision from Chris Schuller over Braxton Rodriguez and an impressive 19-5 major decision from Braxton Alexander over Christian Santos to tie the score.
Garrett Stuckman earned a forfeit and was piggybacked by a pin at 1:50 by Geremia Brooks against Noah Caouette. Goshen got three points back on a 7-1 William Shively decision over Logan Baugh, but perhaps a highlight reel win for the Warriors was about to come. One that could benchmark the Warriors in what has been a fantastic start to the season.
Raymon Torres was in trouble in the 160-pound match against Goshen’s Rene Guiterrez Villa, trailing 11-5 after two periods and only registering one takedown through the first four minutes. Something clicked in Torres, however, in the third period, scoring three takedowns and a near fall to tie Guiterrez Villa at 13 with just 10 seconds left in the match. Needing to come up with a miracle, Torres found some room on a rapidly tiring Guiterrez Villa and smashed a takedown with four seconds left, also scoring a near fall in the process to gain a miraculous 17-13 decision and sending a packed Hardwood Teepee into hysterics.
“I was thinking the whole time ‘I might as well go for it’ and if I’m going to lose, I’m going down throwing hands,” Torres said. “I dug down deep and did enough to get it done. Coach (Jamie) Salazar, he tells me every day, you got it, and it’s not easy but I got it.”
Wawasee would close out the night in style, with Xavier Ortiz and Damien Rodriguez both landing pins and Alex Castro getting a late takedown to finish off a very good Daniel Hidalgo.
“We have three sayings in this program,” began Wawasee coach Frank Bumgardner, “be Warrior Tough, score points and have fun. It’s pretty easy to have fun when you score points. When you have a philosophy about having fun, kids have and will buy in. It’s not just hanging around with a lead, it’s about scoring more points and building a lead. When you get the confidence to take control of your matches, success is what follows. Torres found that late, and a lot of our guys found that tonight.”
Wawasee, which now sits at 16-0 overall after the win, claimed 5-0 results from all three of its previous appearances in the Warsaw, Wawasee and LaPorte invites. At 2-0 in the Northern Lakes Conference, Bumgardner is guiding a speeding train, but one he says is filled with perspective.
“We didn’t overlook Goshen,” Bumgardner said. “We had a great weekend at LaPorte, come into this week ranked No. 1, but our next objective was Goshen. We knew they were a tough, tough team. We came into practice and worked hard. We talked about the ranking, but we moved past that and had a job to do this week. Our coaches did a great job keeping the guys focused and we came out tonight ready to compete.”
Also grabbing wins for the Warriors were Elisha Tipping in a 5-2 decision over Steven Worlds and Jace Alexander in a 19-4 tech fall over Rasheek Bonds, Alexander’s win gutty by definition after the freshman needed attention to his ankle after the second period, but rolled on to outscore Bonds 10-3 in the final period.
Wawasee, the first team at the high school to be ranked No. 1 in the state since the 2008 girls basketball program held the lofty status, will send its JV to work this weekend at the Goshen JV Invite and then prepare for another NLC dual next Thursday at Concord.