BOURBON — Triton’s wrestling team had to endure some extra distractions in the lead-up to its Senior Night.
A busted water pipe in the boys locker room — which was discovered leaking into the main gym at Triton High School back on Jan. 8 — has created all sorts of difficulties for THS athletic teams, and the wrestling squad hasn’t been totally spared, either. Add to that the start of the junior high wrestling season, and there was some serious shuffling going on during Tuesday’s practice.
Hoping to send their seniors out with a win, the Trojans stayed focused, however. And in the end they gave their upperclassmen the send-off they wanted, holding off visiting Northfield for a 40-30 win in a Senior Night meet rerouted to Triton Elementary Wednesday night.
“I’m proud of the kids. We’ve had kind of a weird couple weeks with all the weather and with the gym floor being busted up and stuff,” said Triton wrestling coach Matt Arvesen. “It’s been kind of interesting with practices and keeping everybody focused so I was really glad that we could squeeze a good practice in yesterday and carry that into tonight and make sure we got a good win like we wanted to finish out the year. That was one of our biggest goals — to make sure we got a win on Senior Night and to make sure we could send those guys off with a good memory.”
A forfeit at 171 pounds put the home team on the board, and Bo Snyder’s 8-0 Major Decision over Jasper Donaldson wrestling up at 182 put the Trojans out front 10-6, a lead they would never relinquish.
Snyder scored his first takedown with just 37 seconds to go in the first period, and after starting the second period on the bottom, an escape and a rolling takedown midway through the round gave him a 5-0 lead headed into the final frame. The Triton junior nearly finished off Donaldson late but was only awarded three points as the final buzzer sounded on the match.
“He’s got his own way of wrestling. He will perform the technique that we like sometimes but then he’s also got some kind of weird stuff that he pulls out from time to time,” said Arvesen of Snyder. “It’s frustrating for me as a coach sometimes. It works for him. Sometimes I’ve just got to kind step out of my chair for a little bit and sit back and watch.”
“He’s one of our leaders. He’s one that we can count on going out there,” Arvesen continued. “I don’t mind bumping him up a weight class tonight against a stronger kid to get a solid win like that. And that was big for the team; that ended up being a 10-point victory. We don’t bump him up and we just take the forfeit, it might be a little bit closer at the end.”
A 5-1 decision by Ethan Berry over Logan Cooks at 195 and a 4-1 win by Sheldon Rolston over Micah Higgins at 220 gave the Trojans a 16-6 cushion before Northfield heavyweight Zac Pennington reversed Billy Smith and pinned him at the 4:57 stop of the clock with Smith leading 2-1 to cut the Norsemen’s deficit to four points. Another Northfield forfeit at 13 pushed Triton’s advantage back out to 22-12, and sophomore Connor Pitney scored the home team its only pinfall of the night midway through the third period at 120 to balloon his team’s lead to 28-12.
Pitney scored five takedowns over the first two periods and led 10-4 before rolling an outmatched Roger Red onto his back at the 5:04 mark of the third.
“He buys in every single day so I’m not surprised to see him go out there and actually perform the way he did,” said Arvesen of Pitney. “I’ve felt very comfortable the last couple of weeks with him working hard in his neutral and his takedowns, and you saw that tonight. He’s really developing that nice single leg he’s working on. He’s not afraid to go into some other technique as well, but honestly he’s smart enough to know when something is working, just keep going back to it. He loves to be on top and try to turn people, but you saw tonight I was asking him to let him go and let’s keep going; we’ve got a good thing going. I was glad to see that it didn’t frustrate him at all. He was like ‘OK. Let’s go get another one.’”
The Trojans benefitted from two more Northfield forfeits at 26 and 32, putting the match out of reach at 40-12. A pair of pinfall wins by the Norsemen at 38 and 45 and a Triton forfeit at 52 brought the team score to its final margin as Triton closed out its dual meet season at 16-4.
The home team recognized seniors Vincent Helton, Riley Chickering, Bahley Davis, Alejandro Cabrera and Ryan Snyder prior to the meet, and Arvesen praised them all afterward. Davis and Cabrera — a recent Argos transfer — are both first-year wrestlers with the program, and Snyder has been struggling with an ankle injury as tournament season approaches. Unfortunately, none of Triton’s upperclassmen was able to earn an individual win Wednesday.
Helton suffered a first-period pinfall loss to Kade Kennedy at 160 to start Wednesday’s meet. Chickering lost via pinfall to Ethan Gailbraith in the second period at 45 in the last live match of the night, an unfortunate turn of events with the Trojan senior leading 4-0 following a pair of takedowns in the first and second stanzas.
“Vincent Helton, he’s probably one of the kids that’s worked the absolute hardest out of everybody. Over the last year he’s learned more about hard work and life than anything, and I couldn’t be more proud of him,” Arvesen said. “Riley Chickering is another one that’s worked super hard in the offseason. These guys aren’t showing off the undefeated records, but I’m telling you these kids are going to do great things in life. It’s almost hard to talk about a little bit because I’m really going to miss them next year.”
With the dual meet season now wrapped, the Trojans head into Saturday’s Hoosier North Athletic Conference Tournament hoping to earn a championship three-peat. With the damage to the gym floor at Triton, Culver Community has agreed to host this year’s conference tourney, and Arvesen expressed gratitude at their willingness to help. The Trojans already boast dual meet wins over Culver, Winamac, Caston, Knox and LaVille in dual meet action this season, and North Judson-San Pierre and Pioneer will join those teams at Saturday’s conference capper. Despite his team being the favorite, Arvesen isn’t taking anything for granted.
“We’ve won the last two years, and I feel good but I know we’re going to have some challenges,” he said. “I know there’s a few other teams there that will challenge us, and it’s all about how do we respond. Do we go in there focused and ready to battle or do we go in there kind of feeling like we’re the top dog and someone is going to knock us off easy? That’s going to be a challenge I’m going to give them over the next couple days is to stay really focused. Everybody needs to wrestle the best that they can, and that’s all I’m going to ask.”