By Mike Deak
WARSAW – Step one of the postseason was checked off the wrestling books Saturday as the Northern Lakes Conference held its NLC Championships at Warsaw Community High School.
The hosts had something to celebrate, having 170-pounder Jacob Linky earn a title by way of two falls and a tech fall, his second pin over Plymouth’s Zach Truitt at 3:00 locked up the bracket championship. The Tigers also had two wrestlers work back to third place in Brandon Estepp at 180 and William Roberts at 285, Estepp pinning NorthWood’s Trey Tobias and Roberts working a 2-0 decision on Northridge’s Conner Cripe. Andrew Ross at 138 took fourth among Warsaw’s slate of action.
NorthWood had a stellar day, taking third in the team standings at 193 points behind a host of top three finishes.
Four Panthers won titles, starting with Connor Ratcliff’s 9-8 decision of Brady Snyder of Northridge at 145. Ratcliff scored a pair of falls en route to the final. Kaden Lone stepped into the circle in the 160 final and earned a pin at 1:39 against Plymouth’s Bradey Pittman, Lone’s third pin of the day.
Isaac Benjamin was next to earn the top honor, dominating Mishawaka’s Jaden Thomas in a 16-2 decision in the 220 championship. Benjamin claimed a forfeit and a fall earlier in the day. Blake Herr concluded the day in the 285 final, taking an injury default over Mishawaka’s Justice Binder. Herr had a forfeit and fall on his résumé prior to the championship round.
Lynkyn Ratcliff finished second in the 112-pound bracket and the trio of Alex Walker, Tobias and Joas Miller all placed fourth.
The losses for the Cavemen in the final two matches were key as the new NLC dwellers, which finished the round robin 7-0, would come up short to Northridge 224-222.5 in the final standings. With Ridge finishing 6-1 in the standings and winning the team title Saturday, both Mishawaka and Northridge will split the 2020-21 NLC Wrestling title.
Wawasee also landed a pair of champions among its output, and placed fifth in the team standings at 146 points. Hunter Miller was the young man to beat Lynkyn Ratcliff in the 113 title card, Miller working a pin at 1:28 of the second period. Miller used a forfeit and tech fall to reach the finals. Jace Alexander continued his strong season with a mastery of the 138 bracket, using a forfeit and major decision to reach the final, where he put away Northridge’s Logan Hooley in 54 seconds with a fall.
Kaleb Salazar at 106 and Dylan Tom at 120 both came in third for the Warriors, Salazar scoring two falls to end his day and Tom working a pair of decisions to claim the left side of the bracket. Logan Stuckman at 132, Gavin Malone at 145 and Tim Shortt at 160 were all fourth for the Warriors.
Champion Northridge had title winners in Justin Puckett at 120 and Ibrahim Khuaucha at 195. Mishawaka had title winners in Isaac Valdez at 132, Keagan Mabie at 152 and Cody Timmerman at 182. Goshen had a pair of title winners in Vicente Echman at 106 and Nick Olson at 126.
Final team standings were Northridge 224; Mishawaka 222.5; NorthWood 193; Plymouth 150; Wawasee 146; Goshen 124; Warsaw 113.5; Concord 51
Schuh Highlights Triton’s Day At HNACs
Anthony Schuh finished runner-up at 220 to lead the way for a shorthanded Triton squad at the Hoosier North Athletic Conference Championships held Saturday at Triton.
Schuh used a forfeit and a fall to make the 220 bracket final, where he met Culver’s Hunter Evans. The two worked all three period before Evans scored an 11-8 decision for the title.
Triton had four other wrestlers active on Saturday, with Elijah Cox taking third at 152, D’Angelo Holland and Caleb Lemler both placing fourth at 138 and 285, respectively, and Breylon Wareham placing fifth at 145.
Team honors went to Winamac, taking the team title in a runaway with five class champions and 266.5 points.
Final team standings were Winamac 266.5; Knox 188; LaVille 168.5; North Judson 166; Pioneer 105; Culver 103; Triton 75; Caston 58