MISHAWAKA — With its entire lineup present at the Penn Regional, Wawasee’s wrestling team had both hopes and a legitimate shot at winning the team title Saturday. But that climb became a lot steeper after a semifinal round in which the host Kingsmen advanced nine wrestlers to the championships while the Warriors advanced just three.
Penn finished with a total of seven weight class champions on the way to a dominant 184-point score and the team title in its home gym in Mishawaka, while Wawasee settled for third place with 119 points behind runner-up Mishawaka’s 145.5 score in the final math. The Warriors did claim nine berths to next Saturday’s East Chicago Semi-State at Penn. It was a nice consolation prize, but not the one the team wanted.
“It was a good day. It really was. It says a lot about where the program is right now to get nine out to semi-state, and we’re really disappointed,” said Wawasee head coach Frank Bumgardner. “That’s a good sign for the program. It says that we’re ready to compete. Now we just actually have to start to compete.”
The Warriors made the finals at three weights, but brought home only one title Saturday.
That championship belonged to freshman 106er Jace Alexander, who wrestled a total of just four minutes while pinning his way to the title. His championship match with Mishawaka’s Andrew Sinkovics was his only match to go past the first period, and three takedowns in that first frame left Alexander leading by a comfortable, 7-2 margin headed into the second. After starting on top, Alexander needed just 14 seconds in the second stanza to pin Sinkovics and claim his spot atop the 106-pound podium.
“It was a great, great performance by Jace,” said Bumgardner. “That kid is very, very tough. Putting him on his back three times in two and a half minutes, we just wrestled phenomenal.”
“It was just really exciting,” said Alexander, who credited his coaches with the win. “Going in it as a freshman, I didn’t think I was going to win or anything. It was just going in there head up, ready to wrestle anybody.
“I think that getting first may help my draw in order to get into state so that could be a big factor in getting to state.”
Alexander’s older brother Braxton also made the championship at 126 pounds, but after pinfall victories in his first two matches Saturday, the Wawasee junior found himself scrambling to hold off being pinned by Penn’s Tanner DeMien in the opening period of their title match and fell behind 5-0 early on his way to an 11-4 defeat. Braxton’s championship followed fellow junior Chris Schuller’s title bout in the 120-pound category. Schuller won his opener Saturday with a first-period pinfall of Mishawaka’s Taylor Taft, then won a 6-2 decision over South Bend Washington’s Todd Hardy, but Penn’s Vince Sparrow scored a trio of takedowns on the way to a 6-0 decision over Schuller for the title.
“They should have a decent draw in round one. The bottom line is if you don’t win your regional you still have to beat a regional champ whenever it is,” said Bumgardner of Braxton and Schuller’s semi-state chances. “We’ll see when the draws come out what their draw looks like, but we’ve now found areas with those two that we need to improve on. And really, with all nine there’s stuff to improve on. We’ve got to go back, and we’ve got to get to work on Monday. We don’t have time for a down day so we’ve got to get better pretty quickly.”
Six other Warriors made top four cuts to next week’s East Chicago Semi-State.
Geremia Brooks used the high single leg to good affect on the way to a 12-4 major decision over Penn’s Logan Hill in the 132-pound consolation final for third place there, Garrett Stuckman finished off Mishawaka’s Drew Mason with a late, second-period pinfall for third at 138, and Isaiah Faurote lost a competitive, 10-7 decision to Culver Military Academy’s Elijah Pack for fourth place at 145 as Wawasee collected three straight semi-state berths Saturday. Alex Castro pinned Plymouth’s Blake Davis early in the second period of their 182-pound console for third there, Damien Rodriguez battled for a 5-3 win over South Bend Adams’ Jonathan Thomas for third at 195, and in the heavyweight consoles, Elisha Tipping had to take a gamble late, giving LaVille’s Alex Cartwright a 3-0 decision in a rematch of the Plymouth Sectional championship after Cartwright led by a narrow, 1-0 margin with just 10 seconds left to wrestle.
“Nine is a really good number to advance to the semi-state tournament,” Bumgardner said. “It’s disappointing; we had aspirations to win. We’ve now seen multiple areas where we have to improve in a very short amount of time. It’s kind of an awakening moment, but it’s still moving the program in a positive direction to move nine on.”
Triton head coach Ron Brown reckons you’ve got to dance with the one that brung you.
Trojan junior Bo Snyder is known for a unique brand of wrestling, and it’s one that has done pretty well for him with 32 wins on the year and the 170-pound championship at last weekend’s Plymouth Sectional. Snyder was cruising through the brackets at Saturday’s Penn Regional with a pair of pinfalls on the way to the championship, when that same style got him into a little trouble in his championship bout with Penn’s Noah Brown.
Trailing by a manageable 3-0 deficit early in the third period, Snyder landed in some awkward positions and suddenly found himself trailing by an 8-0 margin with under a minute to go. He battled back to as close as 7-4 but ultimately lost a 10-4 decision to his Penn opponent and had to settle for second-place.
“It’s kind of like a home run hitter — sometimes they knock it out of the park, and sometimes they strike out,” said Ron Brown of Snyder’s style. “In his case, one of his scrambles early on in the match prevented a takedown from happening and later on it put him on his back for a little bit; it gave him some points that weren’t really necessary. So you take it as it comes — if you’re going to win by it then sometimes you’ve got to expect that you’re going to give up some points, and it could cost you matches. It’s his style, it makes him hard to prepare for, and we’ll just scout our opponents to see what we can match up to put him in the best position to win next week.”
While Snyder punched his ticket to next week’s East Chicago Semi-State, the rest of the Triton wrestling lineup bowed out at Saturday’s regional tilt.
The Trojans advanced a total of six wrestlers out of last weekend’s Plymouth Sectional, but only one was able to earn a top four finish at Penn. Likely the most disappointing was D’Angelo Shumpert, who earned himself a second seed via a thrilling, 4-3, victory in the 113-pound championship at Plymouth, but it was illness that ultimately took the talented sophomore down at Penn. Shumpert lost his opener with South Bend Washington’s David Hudson by an 8-0 Major Decision, thus slipping out of the running for spot at semi-state.
“D’Angelo Shumpert showed up here this morning sick as a dog. It was obvious when he was wrestling that he just wasn’t at full strength, but it says a lot for a kid who is willing to gut it out and put it out there for everyone to see instead of just mailing it in and saying that he’s too sick to compete,” said Brown. “You can’t ask anything more of him.”
Sophomore Connor Pitney suffered a 6-1 loss to Washington’s Todd Hardy in their 120-pound opener, Nate Riggins closed out his junior season at 132 pounds with a 14-5 Major Decision loss to Penn’s Logan Hill, senior Vincent Helton fell midway through the second period to Mishawaka’s Ben Kensinger — although the Triton senior may be an alternate at East Chicago after Kinsinger won the 160-pound title with a 4-2 sudden victory over Penn’s Cole Wilson Saturday — and Billy Smith had the misfortune of drawing No. 1-ranked undefeated Washington senior heavyweight Isaiah McWilliams in the first round, falling in the second period.
They weren’t the outcomes the Trojans were hoping for, but their coach couldn’t fault any of their efforts, either.
“I’m not disappointed in any of the kids,” Brown said. “It’s not the results that we want, but most of them are very young. We will be training and we will be getting ready, and we will be back next year.”
Warsaw head coach Kris Hueber knew his team’s best shot at a semi-state berth would likely come at 106 pounds, but sophomore Isaiah Owens would still have to wrestle well.
Owens did just that, knocking off Penn freshman Hunter Boynton in the first round via late second-period pinfall to qualify for next weekend’s East Chicago tournament. Owens ran into eventual champion Jace Alexander of Wawasee in the second round and succumbed to a first-period pinfall, and he gave up a second-period pin to Plymouth’s Dominic Smith in the consoles to finish fourth at Penn, but he lives to wrestle another week.
“I was really happy that Isaiah was able to get through. We kind of looked at the match-ups and thought maybe — looking at common opponents doesn’t always do a whole lot of justice to who you’re going to wrestle, but we thought that was probably our best shot,” explained Hueber. “I was really happy with how he came out. He was real tough on his feet right away. His mental focus was really dialed in. It would’ve been nice to get him one more win and place him in a third-place or something and get a little better draw for next week, but I’m happy to get him through.”
Owens was the Tigers’ only wrestler to advance out of Penn after Warsaw brought a total of six wrestlers to Saturday’s regional tourney but all of them lost to eventual champions in the first round. Jose Martinez closed out a strong sophomore season with a late first-period pinfall loss to 113-pound champion Evan Light of Penn, junior Jose Grimmett lost his first-round match with Mishawaka’s Jacob LaPlace via another first-round pinfall at 145, Grayson Drudge ran into in Penn’s Max Chaffee, losing by first-period pinfall at 182 pounds, and Brock Hueber was pinned late in the first period versus Penn’s Rockne Hurley at 195.
“In the other weight classes we knew that we were going to run into some really, really good wrestlers. We were kind of hoping as we watched the rest of the day unfold here that this gives us something to build on. Like ‘Look, here’s who you lost to. What do you take away from that?’” said Kris Hueber.
“To get six here today, that’s a big improvement for us. We had three alternates as well. None of them got on the mat today, but that’s another week of practice. It’s more exposure — we bring them here, and they get to see great wrestling and learn from this whole experience… Looking at what this can help us do in trying to build and recruit and bring people out, I’m excited for that part of it. Not where we want to be, but we know that we’re better today than where we were.”
TIPPECANOE VALLEY VIKINGS
Valley’s remaining three wrestlers finished out their seasons at Penn Saturday.
Freshman Luis Castillo drew top-seeded Penn senior Tanner DeMien in his 126-pound opener and fell in just 21 seconds. Jacob Eherenman lost to eventual 138-pound champion Preston Risner in another first-period pinfall. Jonathan Humes was pinned late in the second period to Mishawaka’s Joseph Walker at 152 pounds.
NorthWood’s Jake Lone followed up last week’s sectional championship with the 170-pound title at the Goshen Regional Saturday.
The sophomore won a 7-0 decision over Lakeland’s Keegan Hammond in the opener, then collected a 13-4 Major Decision over Elkhart Memorial’s Clayton Lundy in the semifinals to earn a spot in the championship. He edged out Prairie Heights senior Jed Leivitz via 7-4 decision to win the regional title, moving to 34-3 in the process.
Jake Chupp earned the Panthers a second berth to next Saturday’s New Haven Semi-State with his third-place finish at 145 in Goshen. Chupp topped Fremont’s Rhett Evans, 7-4, in their opener but lost to Central Noble’s Giran Kunkel by third-period pinfall in the semifinals. Chupp bounced back with a 9-1 Major Decision over Goshen’s Noah Caouette in the consolation final.
Lane Flowers, Hunter Warren, Jaden Miller and Cannon Yates all closed their seasons at Goshen. Flowers lost by pinfall to East Noble’s Adam Ledesma in the first round at 132, Warren lost by fall to Prairie Heights’ Ryan Rasler at 138, Miller lost by another pinfall to Lakeland’s Hayden Gephart at 160, and Yates was pinned in the third period of his heavyweight match with Lakeland’s Brian Bergman.