WARSAW — After a strong showing in its season-opening home invite, Warsaw wrestling got knocked down a peg the following weekend at the Wawasee November Duals. Following some more successes the past couple weeks, the Tigers got another wake-up call opposite visiting Triton Wednesday.
Sure, Warsaw’s grapplers got the 45-27 win, but that was largely due to Trojan forfeits in four weight classes, not including the dual forfeiture at 106. Coach Kris Hueber’s message to his wrestlers after the meet was that there’s more work to be done. But, of course, while Triton’s lineup may be a little short-staffed, the Trojans put some pretty good wrestlers on the mat at the Tiger Den, too.
“Just from a how-it-felt perspective and the message that I just had with my team upstairs is from a mindset perspective we need to continue to grow. I feel like we’re happy with the progress that we’re making, but we’re nowhere near where we need to be,” explained Hueber. “In a match by match perspective we had some really, really good stuff — we had some kids really scrapping — and I had some kids that weren’t really ready for battle. We knew in scheduling this, the spring of last year when we started doing this, they’d be a really tough team. They’re down in numbers for whatever reason, and I think that’s probably the difference tonight. They have some kids that are really tough.”
While the final margin may have been 18 points, Warsaw actually only just edged out Triton 5-4 in live matches. And within those nine contested classes, the two teams finished dead even in points at 21-21.
“It is what it is. We’ve had some forfeits this year. We’ve used that against others in the past to get our points as well,” said Triton coach Matt Arvesen. “As I was telling the kids I was very pleased with the effort. I like how physical we were. We just had a talk about making sure we’re not going to back down from anybody. We don’t care if we have a few forfeits in the lineup; we can still battle everybody. We can still give the effort. We can still be there for each other.”
A Warsaw forfeit at 220 was followed by Billy Smith’s throw and 36-second pinfall over Griffin Reed to stake the Trojans to an early 12-0 advantage. But that was in turn followed by a pair of Triton forfeits — the second a double forfeit at 06 — and Andrew Ross’ 22 second fall of Brayton Wareham at 120 knotted the score at 12-all. Nate Riggins collected another Triton pinfall in 1:25 over Isaiah Owens at 126 before Brock Hogenson made a mistake cradling Bryce Coppes in the second period at 132 and was reversed and nearly pinned himself. Hogenson trailed 5-4 headed into the third period, but an early reversal from the bottom and a total of five back points gave him the 11-5 win and whittled Warsaw’s deficit to 18-15 in a match Hueber had mentally marked as an important one.
“Hogenson is a kid that won four matches last year, and I think he’s up to about 13 or 14 this year. He’s one that when you point to making a very conscientious decision that I’m going to be a better wrestler, he committed to the offseason, came to camps with us, went out to other places and competed, and you’re seeing it pay off,” said Hueber.
“We knew that might have been a swing match for us, and I was happy with Brock.”
Connor Pitney used his length to hang onto spirals for the better part of two periods and rode Austin Brown to an eventual 6-2 decision at 38 that pushed the Trojans back out to a 21-15 lead, but, again, two Triton forfeits knotted the score back up at 21-21. Jose Grimmett and Brandon Estepp both wrestled up a class at 160 and 170, respectively, and they earned dual 32-second pinfalls over Jarrett Bard and Maclain Middaugh to propel the Tigers to an insurmountable 39-21 advantage with just one live bout to go. Triton’s James Snyder parlayed a collar tie into a slick trip early at 182, and he finished off Brock Hueber in 1:01, but it was too little, too late for the Trojans.
“We moved Jose up because I didn’t want to waste a senior that’s one of my absolute best wrestlers we have, didn’t want to waste him taking a forfeit tonight. He’s a guy that we count on every meet, every dual — we pretty much can count on him to perform. And he came through tonight again like we expected,” explained Kris Hueber.
“Then we moved Estepp up with that. They’re two of our better, more consistent wrestlers, and it worked out in those two matches for us.”
Triton slipped to 2-4 with the result, but Arvesen was pleased with a lot of what he saw from his lineup at Warsaw, particularly in light of a late start to the season after the school’s first football sectional championship campaign in a decade.
“I’m really, really pleased with where we’re going right now. It almost feels like we just got started honestly as far as getting into our techniques set because of football having so much success,” said Arvesen.” So we’re a little bit behind the eight ball I guess as far as techniques go, but honestly I really like what we did. We lost a close match, won a close match, had some good pins. Billy snuck out a nice throw. James Snyder was fantastic. He was just powerful, physical, just what I want him to do. So I was really happy overall.”
Warsaw improves to 11-7 with the result. The Tigers will be back in action next Wednesday in a home dual with Tippecanoe Valley.
“With so many first-year wrestlers and so many guys that are new to the varsity experience, I think that’s what you’re seeing is maybe complacency, maybe just not understanding the internal pride. There’s only so much chewing and motivating you can do in the room,” explained Hueber. “I think that’s maybe a wake-up call, but I don’t want it to sound disrespectful to Triton because they’ve got some really, really good wrestlers and really, really good coaches.”
Triton will be back in action at Saturday’s LaVille Invitational, meanwhile.
“The kids are doing the things that we’re wanting them to do, and it’s nice as a coach to see the kids trying to do the moves that we’re practicing in practice. I hope that they’re just going to build their confidence realizing that those are actually working and springboard into Saturday,” Arvesen said. “We’re expecting good things, but we’re going to have some tough matches. Obviously LaVille always gives us a good go. Valley is tougher than ever this year, and then I don’t even know what to expect from the South Bend, Mishawaka schools that are going to be there.”