PLYMOUTH — Saturday’s Northern Lakes Conference wrestling tournament featured a pair of pretty exceptional brother acts.
While Northridge backed up an unbeaten run through the NLC duals with a convincing tourney title, Wawasee moved into sole possession of second-place in the final conference standings with a runner-up performance, as Warsaw — which was tied with the Warriors at 5-2 headed into Saturday’s tilt in Plymouth — slotted into fifth at the tournament. NorthWood moved up in the rankings with a third-place result, meanwhile, and both Wawasee and the Panthers saw brothers crowned in a quartet of individual championship performances.
For NorthWood, senior Jake Lone and freshman brother Kaden topped the 182 and 145-pound standings, respectively, while senior Warrior Garrett Stuckman followed up freshman little brother Logan’s 106-pound title win with another championship at 152 pounds.
“It was definitely special being a freshman and having your senior brother out there and us winning at the same time,” said Kaden.
“We only have one year together to do as much as we can, and this is definitely one of the special moments,” said Jake.
Both Lone brothers entered the tournament with No. 1 seedings, and both delivered convincingly.
Kaden opened the day with a pinfall of Elkhart Memorial’s Tyrin Newsome in a mere 23 seconds, collected a 6-1 decision over Plymouth’s Tyler Richey in the semifinals, then ran away with a 15-3 major decision win over Northridge 2 seed Brant Blasko in the finals.
Jake received a forfeit in the quarters before scoring an 11-2 major decision win over Warsaw’s Brandon Estepp in the semis and a 9-3 win over another No. 2 Northridge seed, Andrew Lockwood, in their final.
But the Panthers also enjoyed two more titles Saturday as 95-pounder Jaden Miller eked out a narrow, 3-2 decision over Warsaw 1 seed and Indianamat.com 16th-ranked Brock Hueber in the semifinals. He went on to score an 8-6 decision over Ridge’s Ibrahim Khaoucha in their championship bout. ‘Wood heavyweight Blake Herr also outperformed his seeding on the way to the title as the out-sized heavyweight won his opener with Warsaw’s Wyatt Klinger via 21-second fall, pinned Plymouth’s Andrew Himes in 2:25 and built an early lead against Goshen’s Jose Rosales on the way to an eventual 7-3 decision and the title.
The Panthers also got third-place finishes from Sam Schultz at 106 and Isaac Benjamin at 220.
“That was amazing to have four in the championship and come out with four champions and to have two third-place finishers. It was just a great day as a team,” said Jake.
“Overall I think we did amazing. We had people wrestling for fifth and sixth that still came through for us in the final round,” echoed Kaden.
As with the Lone brothers, the Stuckmans of Wawasee have just one year to share the wrestling room together, making Saturday’s dual championship finish all the more special.
“It’s really nice to be in the room with the younger brother. There’s a little tension, which makes it that much better. It’s great to see him succeed in what he does,” said Garrett.
“It makes it really special because Garrett, he just got back from being injured. This is his first tournament, so seeing him up there on the podium was very nice to see,” Logan said.
Although they ultimately ended up with the same result, the Warrior brothers had very different roads through the tournament.
Logan entered with the No. 1 seed at 06, and, following a forfeit in his would-be opener, he poured it on in a 12-1 major decision over NorthWood’s Schultz. He never gave up a single offensive point to Northridge’s Jalen Chappell in their final, either, scoring an 8-1 decision there.
“Logan pretty well dominated all action throughout the conference duals as well as today. I thought he wrestled really well. He was pretty fired up for the tournament,” said Wawasee coach Frank Bumgardner.
A long road back from injury meant that Garrett entered the 152-pound bracket with just one NLC dual to his credit and a fourth seed at the tourney. He pinned Goshen’s Mitchell Daniels in their opener, survived a 5-4 semifinal with ‘Ridge’s Oliver Eveler in the semis and claimed an 8-4 win over Concord’s Brenden Stockman in the finals.
“When we went to the seeding meeting on Thursday, I told him ‘I am not going to try and get you seeded because it doesn’t matter.’ We’re here to win, and it doesn’t matter when we see our guys,” explained Bumgardner. “He needs those tough competitions to get that real match experience. It’s not that he hasn’t wrestled, but he hasn’t seen real, high level competition in 11 months as far as specifically tournament style. It was good for him to get two, good quality matches in.
“He wrestled really well.”
The Warriors had three more wrestlers in championship matches but secured only one more title.
Tenth-ranked junior Jace Alexander, clearly not at his best Saturday, still did more than enough to win the 126-pound title.
After receiving a forfeit in the quarters courtesy of his No. 1 seeding, the returning state-placer scored a 10-0 shutout of Warsaw’s Andrew Ross in the semifinals and needed only 44 seconds to pin Plymouth’s Dominic Smith in the finals.
“His stuff was kind of short term, momentary, just recovery stuff,” explained Bumgardner of Alexander’s health issues headed into Saturday’s tourney. “He was doing very, very well all week long — his training, his weight cut was perfect. He had a scheduled procedure done late in the week, which he was trying to prep for. Coming out of it, he did a good job. He did what he needed to do, for sure. He had a lot of guts, a lot of heart. I give a lot of credit to him.”
Between Logan Stuckman’s 106-pound title and Alexander’s 126-pound championship, Hunter Miller jumped out to a 6-0 lead on Northridge’s Ethan Baker but got a little high on him in the second period and wound up suffering a 3:28 pinfall loss in the 113-pound championship. Dylan Tom scored a 1:12 fall over NorthWood’s Wyatt Geuvra and a 12-9 decision in an active 120-pound semifinal with Goshen’s Armon Hairopoulos but lost a 13-3 decision to ‘Ridge’s Justin Puckett in their title match. He was later voted All-NLC At Large, however.
“We knew that we were probably going to be a better tournament team than a dual team, and today we showed that,” said Bumgardner. “Really we were just looking to take care of our own, perform as well as we could today and get better one step at a time for next week through the state series.”
Warsaw finished the day with just one championship at 160 as Jacob Linky backed up his top seed with a 2:51 pinfall of ‘Wood’s Alex Walker, stuck Plymouth’s Zach Truitt in 4:32 and, despite a slow start in his final with Concord’s Andrew Bondurant, used a pair of second period takedowns to claim an 8-4 decision.
While Linkey’s was the Tigers’ lone title, Warsaw sewed up a number of third-place finishes in Plymouth.
Jose Martinez lost his semi with eventual 20-pound championship Puckett but bounced back with an 8-4 win over Hairopoulos in their consolation final. Brock Hogenson fell to 132-pound runner-up Collin Ruemler of Northridge before scoring a first-period pin all win over NorthWood’s Cameron Jones in their console. Isaiah Owens came up short in a loss to Northridge’s Logan Hooley in the semis but ran out to an 11-3 major decision over Wawasee’s Gavin Malone in the third-place match at 138. Liam Nolin suffered a semifinal loss to ‘Ridge’s Blasko but battled to a 2-0 decision over Plymouth’s Tyler Richey in the 145-pound consolation final. Estepp lost his semi with Jake Lone but pinned Wawasee’s Fernando Hernandez in a minute in the 182-pound consoles. And Hueber overcame his disappointing loss to Miller in the 95-pound semifinals to outpoint Goshen’s Kaleb Kilmer 3-1 in their console.