DUNLAP – If Wawasee coach Frank Bumgardner’s summation of his team’s performance Thursday night was glib, it could be one heckuva second half of the wrestling season for the Warriors.
Noting his team’s performance “wasn’t the best”, the Warriors gave up a total of seven takedowns in a 56-9 drubbing of its Northern Lakes Conference rivals.
“We are getting better every day, but…” started Bumgardner, who then paused and continued, “Honestly, this wasn’t our best performance. Concord came and wrestled hard. Give their kids credit, new coach and first year in a new system. They are going through a transition. They made it hard on us. We still need to improve, we really do.”
Concord managed to score its only mat win in the final dual of the night, a 5-3 Bailey Stockman decision against Logan Baugh, and claimed a forfeit earlier in the night at 106.
Wawasee’s sparring and ground attack were more than stout in racking up some impressive wins. Xavier Ortiz and Ricardo Romo both won by major decision, Ortiz stacking up six takedowns to overwhelm Eric Gonzalez, 15-4, at 170, and Romo scoring a pair of takedowns in each period to claim a 12-4 win on Andrew BonDurant.
Elisha Tipping’s heavyweight match was over almost as quickly as it started, Tipping finding a window and taking down Brendan Casey-Fiedler for a pin in 12 seconds. Braxton Alexander shook off an early takedown by Kendrick Jordan to quickly pin the sophomore at 1:14 of the 132 match while Garrett Stuckman shook off several blood stoppages to score a pin of Brendan Stockman at 3:09 at 138 pounds. Dalton Pearish also scored six points via forfeit at 220.
Raymon Torres opened the night with a gritty pin of Azeal Acosta with two seconds left in the third period, Torres rallying from a 4-4 tie in the second period of the 160 match to grab a 13-6 lead before getting the mat slap. Chris Schuller also got the mat slap just before the horn, pinning Roemello Moon at 1:59 of the 126 card.
Scoring decisions for the Warriors were Alex Castro, 3-2, on Adrian Ubiles at 182, Castro getting a penalty point late in the third; Damien Rodriguez, 5-0, on Brandon Powell at 195; Branden Dilley, 11-7, on Cameron Galvan at 120, Dilley rallying from down 5-2 in the first period to score the next seven points; and Isiah Faroute, 7-5, on Kevin Sibal at 145, Faroute holding on after Sibal scored three late points to close the gap.
“We knew Concord wasn’t going to be a pushover, and they showed it with as many decisions as we had to earn,” Bumgardner said. “This wasn’t our best performance, but not our worst, either. Testament to Concord for their kids putting up a good fight.”
Wawasee, ranked No. 1 in Class 2-A for the second straight week, moves to 17-0 and 3-0 in the NLC. Wrestling without stars Jace Alexander and Geremia Brooks on weight casualties, Bumgardner expects both back in the lineup Saturday when Wawasee hosts perennial powers Plymouth and Northridge among the lot at the Wawasee December Duals. The matchups should give Bumgardner a clearer picture of where his team is headed with Team State awaiting the following weekend.
“We have a bigger picture, and that doesn’t stop with Saturday,” Bungardner said. “Our picture is in January and into February. We want to be ready for sectionals, regionals and onto the state finals. We expect teams to wrestle us hard because of our ranking. Guys are going to gun for us. Which is great, but for the concept that we are not holding on for anything. We are still hunting. We need to go through and battle every person and team in front of us.
“We’re still looking to win our first conference tournament in a while. Our first sectional since 2010, our first regional and so on. Having a great season so far, our season is not even close to being done. It’s trying to have the bigger picture in mind.”