By Mike Deak
MISHAWAKA – Over two dozen wrestlers from area programs advanced to the semi-state round of the IHSAA wrestling state tournament with their work on Saturday. Wrestlers from Wawasee, Warsaw, NorthWood, Tippecanoe Valley and Triton all punched their tickets to the third leg of the state journey by placing at least top four in their respective weight classes.
Of the aforementioned programs, Wawasee had the only regional champions of the lot. The Warriors saw titles from Logan Stuckman at 132 and Jace Alexander at 138, both going 3-0 on the day.
Stuckman snuck out a 7-6 decision over Warsaw’s Jose Martinez in the semi-finals, leading 7-1 with 15 seconds to go, but having to avoid a five-count as the horn sounded to avert overtime as Martinez had reversed into a hold. Stuckman rallied in the finals to pin Penn’s Wesley Harper.
Alexander worked a pair of falls to reach the finals, and in a showcase match against Mishawaka’s Andrew Sinkovics, Alexander remained perfect on the season with a 7-2 decision.
Wawasee had eight total wrestlers qualify for the East Chicago Semi-state, with Kaleb Salazar, Hunter Miller and Dylan Tom all finishing second, Gavin Malone taking third and Brenden Dilley and Cameron Zimmerman placing fourth. The Warriors stood in second for much of the day in the team standings, but settled for third at 126 points, looking up at champion Penn (244) and Mishawaka (168).
Warsaw rose to sixth in the team standings, sending five onto next week. Jacob Linky and Brandon Estepp both finished second in their brackets, Martinez taking third and both Elias Garza and Andrew Ross placing fourth.
Tippecanoe Valley move on four to East Chicago, but will have some work to do. Brandon Hammer took third, but Galvin Shambaugh, Branson McBrier and Bazle Owens all took fourth and will face big seeds in the quarters next week.
Triton took three to Penn, and two will keep their bags packed. Caleb Lemler was runner-up at heavyweight and Anthony Schuh was fourth a class up, keeping their seasons on the rails.
NorthWood brought 10 to the Goshen Wrestling Regional, and six still have their goals in sight after making top four.
None of the Panthers were bracket champions, but two were runner-ups in Connor Ratcliff and Kaden Lone. Blake Herr was third and both Lynkyn Ratcliff and Hunter Lechlitner took fourth place. One of the bigger surprises in the Goshen tournament was the loss by Isaac Benjamin at 220 in the first round, the Panther having won the sectional title the week before but losing by pin fall to Angola’s Coy Brames in the opening round.
NorthWood finished fifth in the team standings, everyone chasing Northridge as the regional team champs.
The top four wrestlers at the Goshen Regional advance to the Fort Wayne Semi-state next weekend.