PLYMOUTH — Any heavyweights looking to make the cut out of this Saturday’s Plymouth Wrestling Sectional has their work cut out for them.
As the 73rd Annual IHSAA Wrestling State Tournament Series opens this Saturday at 32 sectional sites, 313 schools will be represented by nearly six thousand wrestlers, all looking for one of the top four spots that guarantee a trip out to the regional round of the tournament. With three of the state’s top 10 wrestlers in the 285-pound class at Plymouth between No. 6 Abe Hall of Bremen, No. 7 Jeremiah Harvey of Culver and second-ranked Rockies heavyweight Damon Howe, it should be a clash of titans at The Rock.
“The Culver kid is a real quality kid, and the Bremen kid is good as well, and they deserve every bit of the sixth and seventh rank that they have and maybe even higher, and I think some people maybe overlook that Wawasee kid (Dmitri Kaplanis) because he’s not bad either,” said Plymouth head wrestling coach Bob Read. “I think it’s probably overall the toughest weight class in the tournament.”
Howe is only recently back in the lineup after a short hiatus due to knee surgery, but coming off his third straight Northern Lakes Conference championship last weekend, he’s hoping Saturday’s sectional is the first step in a long road as he attempts to better a fifth-place finish at last year’s state finals.
“Since the surgery I’m going to have to work twice as hard as my opponents since I missed that time. (My coaches) definitely push me, and I feel better than I did at the beginning of the year so I’m excited about what’s to come,” he said.
While Howe looks for a repeat individual championsip, Plymouth will look to restore its 2009 team sectional championship against a nine-team field that includes Bremen, Culver Military, Culver Community and Triton. Although the Rockies are overwhelmingly young, the team does boast a quartet of wrestlers with over 20 wins in Howe, 103-pounder John Mills, 171-pounder Nathan Benham and 215-pounder Jacob Segraves.
“In order to win the thing, we’re going to have to everyone wrestle above the seed that they’ve got,” said Read. “Going in we know that we’ve got our backs up against the wall, but we’ve had a good week of practice and the kids are just going to have to wrestle as hard as they can.”
Wrestling starts at 9 a.m.