WARSAW — Warsaw’s wrestlers made finishing a focus headed into Wednesday’s dual with neighboring Tippecanoe Valley. That emphasis became apparent over the course of the meet as the Tigers collected a total of six pins on the way to a 49-24 win over the visiting Vikings on senior night at the Tiger Den.
“They’re doing a lot of the things we’re trying to do — they’ve grown their program, their numbers are pretty solid — and they’ve beaten some teams lately. We knew they were dangerous in a lot of weight classes,” said Warsaw coach Kris Hueber. “We preached to the kids all week we were going to need bonus points in every match we had a chance. We had some swing matches and had some kids come up really, really big tonight.
“I thought our approach to the matches was a significant step forward from where we were. I was really happy with our mentality for how we wrestled tonight.”
Jacob Bass stuck Jacob Eherenman with just eight seconds to go in their 145-pound match, Brandon Estepp earned a first-period pinfall of Dakota Gaff at 160, Jayton Brock got off to an explosive start on his way to pinning Skyler Losher in 1:25 at 170 pounds, Griffin Reed finished Ian Becker by pinfall in 3:53 at heavyweight, Andrew Ross ran his half nelson to a pinfall of Matt Hodge in just 52 seconds at 120 pounds, and Brock Hogenson put the exclamation point on the win with a 2:27 fall of Branson McBrier in the last match of the night at 132.
“We talked all week about not giving up pins, and, yeah, we gave up too many pins,” said Valley coach Kyler Kearby.
The only spoiler on senior night in Warsaw was a late loss by 152-pound upperclassman Jose Grimmett to Jon Humes, Valley’s lone pinfall win of the night.
Grimmett led 4-3 late in the third period before Humes decided to cut him loose with just 23 seconds left in regulation. The gamble paid off when Humes was able to finish a takedown 10 seconds later to tie up the score, and he capitalized on a Grimmett mistake with a pinfall with only one second remaining on the clock.
“Jose had a disappointment tonight. It was a heartbreaker,” said Hueber. “He looked kind of sluggish tonight. It was not the performance that we would’ve expected for him. Whether it was physical or mindset, we’ll continue to look at the tape and examine it and work on his frame of mind, but credit to the Valley kid, he had a great game plan coming in and hung tough.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Grimmett, he’s a heck of a wrestler, but Jon gave himself a chance,” explained Kearby. “The more you can stay in a match with Grimmett, the better chance you’ve got. He kept hanging in there, and he took advantage of an opportunity at the end and got a big pin.”
Following Grimmett’s loss, Hueber made a last-minute change to his lineup, bringing Angel Mendez down to 182 pounds and bumping son Brock Hueber up to 195 after both made 82 prior to the meet. That coaching call turned out to be the right one as Mendes came on strong after a scoreless first period and pushed the pace to a 7-0 decision, and Brock eventually broke Mendez, who was disqualified at the 5:49 mark after repeated warnings for stalling.
“Total credit to the Valley kid, but Jose Grimmett is a kid we plan on winning. We had some stuff not go the way that we expected it to go, and on top of all that just kind of looking at lineups and where things were I thought that gave Angel the best chance to be successful. I trust Brock in most situations, and if he loses I can deal with that as his dad and his coach, so it’s fine,” said Hueber.
“Their 82 was kind of light, and I wanted to make sure Angel had a chance. I thought that was the best one for him. I was so happy to see him. He’s a kid that has wrestled for eight weeks… For him to stick through it and finally get that reward, that was awesome to see that because then it fed the rest of the team. You saw a lot of those kids that have been in that role player mode pick up some big wins tonight, and it was awesome.”
In addition to Humes’ win at 52, the Vikings claimed a pair of decisions in the opener at 138 and at 113.
Luis Castillo out-pointed Austin Brown in a high-scoring 14-9 decision where neither could seem to hold the other down, and Drake Montelongo scored a near fall during a six-point second period on his way to an 8-1 decision, a late escape near the edge of the circle just before the final buzzer Jose Martinez’s only point of the match but one that prevented it from becoming a major decision.
“As far as Luis, he started off a bit slow maybe being the first match. I think he was a little too amped up or something, but he finished strong. He controlled the match after the first period, did a great job,” Kearby recalled. “As far as Drake, nobody knows him, but people in this area, not just here but I’m saying further down at regional, at semi-state, they’re going to have to respect him. He’s a darn good little freshman.”
Warsaw improves to 12-7 with the win and will resume wrestling at the Al Smith Invitational in Mishawaka Dec. 28-29.
“Christmas throws a wrench into things a little bit. You’ve got some people traveling, and we’re going to have a little bit of time off, but then we’re going to come back and we’re going to get ready for Mishawaka,” Hueber said. “We’re in a position where we know we’re clearly underdogs in this tournament, but I think we have some people that can be day two guys and turn some heads. The big thing for us is we want to use this as a way of figuring out where we are as a program right now. Our dual record has come a long way, but it’s time to transition into the back half of that season where every tournament we go to the rest of the way is individual-geared toward sectional, regional, trying to make a run at getting some guys to state.”
Valley slides to 10-4, meanwhile. The Vikings will travel to this Saturday’s John McKee Invitational at Rochester.
“What people don’t understand is we got our butts kicked by these guys just three, four years ago. They were that much better than us, and that’s the thing that people don’t understand is how far these kids have come. They’re not going to quit. They’re going to keep getting better,” said Kearby of Wednesday’s dual.
“I’m glad we had this opportunity, and I’m glad we got this dual set up with Warsaw this year. I think it’s going to each year get better and better.”