MERRILLVILLE — Sometimes, rematches are a good thing, even when they don’t work out.
Ask Culver Academies senior Anthony McHugh, who is riding a momentum wave into next weekend’s state wrestling finals.
It’s not that he won a championship in the 138-pound weight class at Saturday’s Merrillville semistate tournament. Actually, he lost.
But in taking Mishawaka’s Tommy Forte down to the wire before dropping a 3-2 decision in the title bout, McHugh proved he may be ready to make a long run up the awards stand at the state meet.
Forte, Indiana’s No. 1-ranked wrestler at 138, is 42-0 this season. His matches rarely go the distance.
But with 56 seconds remaining in the second period, there was McHugh, cranking Forte to his back for a two-point nearfall and giving the large Mishawaka contingent in the bleachers a near-heart attack. In the end, Forte scored a late escape to pull out the win.
Just a week earlier, at the Rochester regional, McHugh also met Forte for the championship. He lost that bout, 6-2. So the improvement was obvious.
“I wrestled a lot better today,” said McHugh, now 43-4. “Last week (at the regional), I was hesitant, I wasn’t taking my shots. I didn’t wrestle very well. I saw today as a chance to redeem myself.”
The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the state meet, which begins 6 p.m. Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
McHugh is one of three local wrestlers who earned a ticket. Also advancing are Plymouth’s Cody Allmon, who finished fourth in the 106-pound weight class, and Culver Community’s Matt Hurford, the champion at 182.
Hurford improved to 44-0 and stamped himself as a serious contender for a title when the IHSAA finals wrap up next Saturday night.
He scored a 22-6 technical fall over Winamac’s Richard Doty on his way to the semistate title match, and pinned Exvonte Jones of Portage in 3:16. In the championship bout, he scored seven takedowns in a 16-7 romp over Ryan Jankowski of South Bend St. Joseph.
Allmon, a freshman, will take a 35-7 record to Indianapolis. He meets Danville’s Brock Hudkins (21-0) in the opening round.
Allmon won his two most important matches at Merrillville – the first two – by whipping Tyler Joseph of Portage, 8-3, and pinning Daniel Davis of Lafayette Harrison in 4:56. In the semifinals, he fell to Penn’s Drew Hildebrandt, then lost his consolation match to Merrillville’s Michael Garza.
“Cody was sick all week and only made one practice, so it’s an accomplishment for him just to make it down there (to state),” said Plymouth coach Bob Read. “His timing was way off.”
Though Allmon meets an undefeated wrestler in the opening round of the state meet, Read said he won’t change his routine.
“The kid is a scrapper,” said Read. “He will be all right.”
McHugh takes on New Haven’s Reese Seiger (38-3) in the opening round at state. Hurford faces Avon’s Jonah Zomiger (27-4).
NO REPEAT FOR MIRACLE
Culver Academies junior Kayla Miracle was unable to complete her quest for a second consecutive trip to the IHSAA state finals. She scored an 18-3 technical fall over North Newton’s Jacob Koselke in the semistate’s opening round, but then dropped a 7-4 decision to Merrillville’s Adam Garcia in the ticket match. She finishes the season with a 35-4 record.
As a sophomore, Miracle was the first girl ever to qualify for the state wrestling finals.
“It is what it is,” said Miracle. “All the pressure was on him (Garcia), because he was wrestling ‘the girl.’ I was hoping I could catch him making a mistake. But he was tough.”
Miracle did bounce back to win two consolation matches and finish fifth overall, making her an alternate for the state finals.
Edmond Hogan of Culver Academies was the only other wrestler to earn a place award, finishing sixth in the 160-pound class. He finishes 41-6.
Plymouth heavyweight Drew Dodson won his opening match, taking a 2-0 decision from Lafayette Jeff’s Francisco Franco, but fell to Chesterton’s Riley Harlow in the quarterfinals.
Culver Community’s Mark Hurford (170) and Bremen’s Joey Bailey (120) also won first-round matches before bowing out.
• IHSAA WRESTLING SEMISTATE
Team scores: Merrillville 115, Penn 98, Crown Point 85 ½, Mishawaka 79 ½, Lowell 65, Portage 54, Hanover Central 46, Lake Central 46, South Bend Clay 44, Harrison (Lafayette) 33, South Bend Adams 32, Culver Academies 30, Twin Lakes 28, Culver Community 24 ½, Benton Central 23, Chesterton 22, Highland 20, Kankakee Valley 19, Warsaw 18, West Lafayette 18, South Bend St. Joseph 17, Hammond Bishop Noll 16, Delphi 16, Hobart 16, LaPorte 15, Valparaiso 15, New Prairie 12, Plymouth 11, Hammond Morton 8, South Bend Riley 7, Pioneer 6, McCutcheon 4.
Individual state meet qualifiers: Merrillville 7, Penn 6, Mishawaka 4, Crown Point 4, Lowell 4, Portage 4, South Bend Clay 3, Lake Central 3, Chesterton 2, Hanover Central 2, South Bend Adams 1, Benton Central 1, Culver Academies 1, Culver Community 1, Delphi 1, Hammond Noll 1, Harrison (Lafayette) 1, Highland 1, Hobart 1, Kankakee Valley 1, LaPorte 1, Plymouth 1, South Bend St. Joseph 1, Twin Lakes 1, Valparaiso 1, Warsaw 1, West Lafayette 1.
106: Jake Sinkovics (Mishawaka) tech fall Drew Hildebrandt (Penn), 25-10 in 4:36.
113: Stevan Micic (Hanover Central) tech fall Zachary Davis (Penn), 19-4 in 5:24.
120: Drew Hughes (Lowell) pinned Luis Munoz (Warsaw), 5:01.
126: Blake Denton (Twin Lakes) dec. Josh Fuqua (Crown Point), 2-1.
132: Trevor Burlison (Crown Point) dec. Mitch Hartman (S.B. Clay), 8-6.
138: Tommy Forte (Mishawaka) dec. Anthony McHugh (Culver Academies), 3-2.
145: Tristan Macri (Mishawaka) dec. Joe Mammolenti (Penn), 7-6.
152: Dustin Schurg (Crown Point) dec. Samuel Ferdig (S.B. Adams), 2-1.
160: Mark Maldonado (Highland) dec. Damien Gomez (Hammond Noll), 3-1.
170: Bobby Stevenson (Merrillville) dec. Scottie Sopko (Hobart), 9-4.
182: Matt Hurford (Culver Community) maj. dec. Ryan Jankowski (S.B. St. Joseph), 16-7.
195: Jacob Ricks (Benton Central) dec. Justin Berumen (Delphi), 8-4.
220: Galen Robinson (Lake Central) pinned Seth Meyer (Harrison-Lafayette), 0:47.
285: Shawn Streck (Merrillville) pinned Shakir Carr (Clay), 5:08.
(For 3rd Place)
106: Michael Garza (Merrillville) tech fall Cody Allmon (Plymouth), 16-0. 113: Gaige Torres (Portage) maj. dec. Branden Truver (Lake Central), 15-5. 120: Adam Garcia (Merrillville) dec. Matt Lechowicz (Lake Central), 4-2 in OT. 126: Dylan Logsdon (Portage) dec. Max Buckley (Valparaiso), 5-0. 132: Grant Martsolf (Mishawaka) dec. Jacob Covaciu (Merrillville), 3-2. 138: Isaac Rentas (Merrillville) maj. dec. Alex Reinhart (Penn), 10-2. 145: Mitch Roadruck (Lowell) dec. Chris Katsafaros (Chesterton), 7-3. 152: Trevor Manspeaker (Penn) dec. Danny Roach (Portage), 5-3. 160: Kenny Hughes (Lowell) dec. Matthew Hollins (Merrillville), 5-0. 170: Mike Eldridge (LaPorte) pinned Jade Doty (West Lafayette), 2:31. 182: Exvonte Jones (Portage) dec. Matt Langbehn (Crown Pt.), 5-2. 195: Ryan Patterson (Lowell) dec. Jaylin Allen (S.B. Clay), 3-1. 220: Kobe Woods(Penn) dec. Matt Berdine (Kankakee Valley), 2-1. 285: Joshua Bartoszek (Hanover Central) pinned Riley Harlow (Chesterton), 2:02.
(For 5th Place)
106: Chris Trent (New Prairie) dec. Willie Armstrong (Merrillville), 6-0. 113: Alex Bravo (Valparaiso) dec. Rickie Rodriguez (Hammond Morton), 2-1. 120: Kayla Miracle (Culver Academies) dec. Ruben Rodriguez (Hammond Morton), 9-7. 126: Kevin Bayley (Harrison-Lafayette) pinned Jake Gross (Lowell), 4:11. 132: Joshua Curcio (Penn) maj. dec. Seth Carithers (McCutcheon), 11-1. 138: Jack Roetker (Harrison-Lafayette) dec. Darden Schurg (Crown Pt.), 14-13. 145: Stephon Wilkins (Portage) dec. Willie Armstrong (Merrillville), 6-0. 152: Sam Thomas (Twin Lakes) pinned Beau Tauber (Kankakee Valley), 0:51. 160: Chase Hack (Riley) dec. Edmond Hogan (Culver Academies), 4-2. 170: Jeff Wiseman (Penn) dec. Edgar Gallegos (S.B. Adams), 7-4. 182: Tyler Scott (Hanover Central) dec. Eric DeLuna (Merrillville), 12-5. 195: Morgan Kral (Crown Pt.) dec. Joel Bolen (Kankakee Valley), 4-0. 220: Kenan Boyd (S.B. Adams) dec. Don Stanish (New Prairie), 6-4 in 2OT. 285: John Duvall (West Lafayette) dec. Quentin Klingberg (Crown Point), 9-2.