BOURBON — For the first time in the short history of the Hoosier North Athletic Conference, someone besides Triton is sitting atop the league wrestling rankings. But it certainly wasn’t for a lack of effort by the Trojans.
With only six wrestlers on its roster, Triton was forced to forfeit matches in more than half of all weight classes at Friday’s HNAC Tournament. But every single one of the Trojans who took the mat at the meet made the finals, and two of them won championships. Still, it wasn’t enough to catch Winamac, which unseated the three-peat champion Trojans with 280 points ahead of North Judson’t 201 and LaVille’s 174. Triton placed fourth with a score of 142.
“We talked yesterday and then we talked again before we wrestled today just about how we can’t do anything about the numbers today. We knew we were behind the 8 ball already. All we could control was what we did on the mat,” said Triton wrestling coach Matt Arvesen. “Man, some of our guys that normally don’t even get a sniff of a win, it’s like we all just kind of peaked in the same round at the same time. The energy around us was great at that moment.
“I’m real proud of the kids. It would’ve been great obviously to win four in a row, but we knew we were stacked against that. I’m real proud how we kind of just battled through.”
Two of the Trojans secured individual HNAC championships at home at the Trojan Trench.
First came Connor Pitney’s 138-pound title as he pinned Winamac’s Brody Roth in 2:31, then stuck LaVille’s Dawson Leed in just 1:04 in the championship round. Arvesen is hoping it’s just a glimpse of what’s to come from the junior.
“He is one that if he just realizes his own potential I saw tonight what I can get out of him for the next year and a half here. I think part of his struggle has just been a little self-confidence, but I hope that win tonight against Dawson helps him turn a corner,” said the Triton boss. “He has the technique, he has the experience. Honestly I hope he’s just peaking right now and can take it into next week.”
Triton’s second and final title of the night came at 195, where James Snyder wrestled up a class, pinning Winamac’s Cameron Benesh in just 35 seconds in the semis and running through Culver’s Isaac Walters in 1:08 in the finals. Normally wrestling at 182, Friday’s tilt was practice for the undefeated Snyder headed into the state tournament.
“I bumped him up to 95 this week because I knew Isaac was good. Not to take away anything else from anybody at 82, we’re just hunting down good matches trying to get trained up before sectional starts,” Arvesen explained. “And James is all about it. He’s always asking me ‘I want the best guy. Please, can I get him? Can I get him? Can I get him?’ I can’t say no. He shows me every single time he goes out there that he has the ability and the athleticism to obviously dominate at this weight class.”
While the Trojans won only two of their six championship bouts for automatic All-HNAC honors, one other received an at-large all-conference pick after falling a little short in the title round.
Billy Smith ran into Indianamat.com fifth-ranked heavyweight Alex Cartwright in the championship round and what appeared to be a slippage wound up costing him the match early in the second period. But Arvesen nominated Smith for an at-large bid, and the rest of the HNAC coaching community agreed.
“I think he just got caught in a situation where he got taken to his knee, and he wasn’t able to recover in time. You can’t do that against Alex. He’s going to run you over,” said Arvesen of Smith’s title bout. “But I was really proud. He had a nice strategy just trying to not be a target because we knew that he had a great double leg, so we were just trying to move and quarter turn. He was executing what we were doing. We just fell to our knees and didn’t recover quite fast enough, and obviously you saw the end result. But Billy, he’s great to have in the room. He’s a fun kid, first of all. And then you add that to the fact that he wants to learn and get better every single day. I had to put him up for at-large. I couldn’t see any other way. He deserves this all-conference selection. I’m really proud that everybody agreed with that and we got him voted in.”
The other three wrestlers that made the finals Friday for Triton were Breylon Wareham, who fell to Winamac’s Shaun Pratt in the 113-pound finals, Maclain Middaugh, who pinned Winamac’s Schylar Keenery in the third period of the semis before losing via first-period fall to Judson’s Tyler Blount in the 170-pound finals, and Aaron Stichter, who stuck Culver’s Zac Ditmire in the second period of their semifinal match at 220 before falling to LaVille’s Anthony Hatter midway through the second period of the finals. It was a performance to build on going into next week’s Plymouth Sectional.
“It’s hard to tell where things will go. I love that, it seems like we’re peaking right now,” said Arvesen. “I hope that carries over to next Saturday. We have tough competition with these other schools like Wawasee and Plymouth’s good. I don’t want to presume too much, but at the same time I really feel good with our ability right now and I really feel good that we can at least match up. We may not win every one, but I feel like we’re going to be able to match up well and maybe surprise some teams.”
THREE RIVERS CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
Tippecanoe Valley’s wrestling squad placed sixth at the Three Rivers Conference Tournament Friday at Maconaquah. The Vikings put up a 144.5 team score. Wabash won the meet with a score of 204.5 ahead of Manchester’s 195. Whitko finished ninth with 59 just points ahead of Southwood’s 58.
Drake Montelongo earned runner-up honors at 113, pinning North Manchester’s Briar Roach in 3:13 in the semifinals before falling in 4:46 to Rochester’s Dustin Siebert in the finals. Jonathan Humes placed second at 152, tech falling Southwood’s Bryce Wyatt in his opener, beating Wabash’s Traydon Goodwin, 8-3 in the semis, then falling in the second period to Rochester’s Haydn Prater in the finals. Brandon Hammer finished third in the 170-pound brackets with a second-period pinfall of Southwood’s Memphis Hiner, then pinning Wabash’s Justin Heckman in the third period before beating Rochester’s Walyn Hayes via injury default in the console finals. Hunter Eherenman was fourth at 120 pounds, pinning Maconaquah’s Brady Floyd in his opener, then clinching a 4-0 decision over North Manchester’s Daton Spear in his wrestle back then falling to Manchester’s Elijah Burlingame via 6-0 decision in the third-place match. Luis Castillo finished in fourth place at 132 pounds, winning an 11-6 decision over Manchester’s Dominic Lincoln in the losers bracket, then claiming a 5-0 decision versus Peru’s Kayden Gee before losing via second-period pinfall to Rochester’s Justin Risten in the third-place match. Skyler Losher was fifth at 182, Johnny Gonsalez was fifth at 195, and Tyler Nine placed fifth at 220 for the Vikings.
Delton Moore pinned his way to a championship for Manchester at 170 pounds, falling Rochester’s Walyn Hayes in his opener, then sticking Wabash’s Justin Heckaman in the semifinals and finishing Whitko’s Brady Mitchell in just 56 seconds in the final. Dylan Stroud was runner-up at 126, Trevor Dill was runner-up at 220, and Bryce Kamphues was runner-up at heavyweight as four Squires made the finals. Ashton Moore placed third at 195, Kevin Morales was third at 145, and Elijah Burlingame placed third at 120 in other top finishes for Manchester.
Mitchell was Whitko’s highest finisher at 170. Kyle Reed was third at 126 for the Wildcats, meanwhile.