ROCHESTER — Culver Community certainly had the top-notch wrestlers at Saturday’s John McKee Invitational.
Problem is, there weren’t enough of them.
Usually, if a team advances 80 percent of its wrestlers to the finals of a 16-team tournament, that team would dominate the rest of the field.
But if that team only has five guys to start with, well…
“We have two kids out sick and another one who is, ahh, absent,” said Culver coach Louis Posa, whose short-handed squad finished eighth in the day-long tournament at Rochester, despite having just as many wrestlers in the championship round as first place South Bend Clay.
“I don’t even need a full lineup,” Posa quipped. “Just get me four or five more like the ones we’ve already got, and we’re in good shape.”
Matt Hurford, Mark Hurford, John Ahlenius and Allen Betts all advanced to the finals, with Matt Hurford and Betts winning championships for the Cavaliers.
For Matt Hurford, a senior who pinned his way through the 182-pound weight class, it was a fourth consecutive John McKee title. For Betts, meanwhile, first place at 113 was a coming out, of sorts.
To get there, Betts — who is undefeated this season at 21-0 — had to beat another undefeated matman, Alan Mack of North Miami.
Mock entered the finals with an 18-0 mark.
It was a titanic finale, worthy of a regional or semistate title bout. With the score tied 2-2 and 26 seconds remaining, the senior Cav connected on a sweet double-leg shot, dumping his opponent on the mat for the winning takedown in a 4-2 victory.
“He (Mock) was so quick; when I saw an opening, I knew I had to start shooting,” said Betts. “This is the biggest win of my career.”
Team runner-up Plymouth advanced two wrestlers to the finals and had no champs, but was still in the hunt for a title till the very end.
“Our kids wrestled well, but we just have to get tougher,” said Plymouth coach Bob Read. “We had too many close losses; if we win a couple of those, we pick up a lot of points.”
In one of the most anticipated matches of the day, Plymouth’s DeAndre Pickford (20-1) suffered his first loss of the season in the 220-pound weight class, as he fell to Clay’s Jaylin Allen.
Plymouth also had a finalist in 106-pound Cody Allmon, who lost to Fairfield’s undefeated Blake Glagouski in the championship match.
“We’ve got some bumps and bruises that need to get healed, but the main thing, we need to get better,” said Read. “When we come back form (Christmas) break, our first match is against (Northern Lakes Conference powerhouse) Elkhart Memorial.”
Knox ended up fourth in the final team standings, while LaVille was 13th and Triton took 15th.
• JOHN McKEE MEMORIAL WRESTLING INVITATIONAL
TEAM SCORES: Clay 190, Plymouth 171 ½, Rochester 156, Knox 154, Northridge 149 ½, Fairfield 128, St. Joseph 120, Culver Community 119, Tippecanoe Valley 114, North Miami 106 ½, Washington 96 ½, Rensselaer 86, LaVille 78, Manchester 67, Triton 61, Caston 43.
106: Blake Glogouski (Fairfield) pinned Cody Allmon (Plymouth), 4:31; 113: Allen Betts (Culver) dec. Alan Mock (No Miami), 4-2; 120: Forrest Glogouski (Fairfield) won by injury def. over Todd Santiago (Northridge); 126: Brett Martz (Fairfield) maj. dec. John Hunting (Rocheter), 11-3; 132: Devin Childers (Tippecanoe Valley) dec. Jake Krause (Knox), 9-3; 138: Mitch Hartman (Clay) dec. Hunter Hickman (Rensselaer), 3-0; 145: William Howell-Bey (Washington) dec. John Ahlenius (Culver), 9-3; 152: Tim Deters (Northridge) pinned Kevin Land (Knox), 2:59; 160: Michael Bates (Washington) dec. Braxton Lee (Rochester), 10-3; 170: Garrett Majchrzak (Knox) pinned Mark Hurford (Culver), 5:47; 182: Matt Hurford (Culver) pinned Ryan Jankowski (St. Joseph), 4:13; 195: Mike Sustaita (Knox) pinned Tyler Schmitt (Clay), 2:51; 220: Jaylin Allen (Clay) pinned DeAndre Pickford (Plymouth), 3:54; 285: Shakir Carr (Clay) pinned John Mangum (Caston), 2:58.
(For 3rd place)
106: Jerrod Betts (Culver) dec. Josh Heckathorn (Rochester), 5-3; 113: Jake Hartman (Clay) pinned Justin Schroder (Rochester), 3:21; 120: Triston Rodriguez (Plymouth) pinned Justin Stephens (Washington), 3:36; 126: Clayton Moore (Manchester) dec. Wyatt Nelson (Tippecanoe Valley), 4-2; 132: J Heckathorn (Rochester) maj. dec. Peter Rymsza (St. Joseph), 9-0; 138: Eric Dan (Knox) dec. Ryan Baxter (Northridge), 6-3; 145: Levi McKee (No Miami) dec. Jeff Martin (Rensselaer), 7-2; 152: Jordan Kazmierczak (St. Joseph) dec. Arron Heller (Tippecanoe Valley), 5-0; 160: Devin Johnson (LaVille) dec. Garrett Bell (Tippecanoe Valley), 8-4; 170: Tony Hubartt (No Miami) dec. Jake Kazmierczak (St. Joseph’s), 9-5; 182: Trey Taylor (Clay) pinned Neil Snepp (Manchester), 2:28; 195: Vicinte Vasquez (Plymouth) dec. Jordan Shafer (Rochester), 6-1; 220: Tyler Hoover (No Miami) pinned Chris Connell (Northridge), 4:17; 285: Drew Dodson (Plymouth) pinned Evan Beech (No Miami), 4:59.
Most Valuable Wrestler: Mitch Hartman (Clay)