ROCHESTER — Wrestling regionals convene around the state this weekend, and many area wrestlers are hoping to make Saturday’s stop at Rochester the next in a long journey toward the podium at state.
Plymouth senior and IndianaMat.com second-ranked heavyweight Damon Howe knows what it takes to move on in the state tourney after finishing out his junior season in fifth place at Conseco Fieldhouse last season. He followed up a third-straight Northern Lakes Conference championship on Saturday, Jan. 22 with a three-peat Plymouth Sectional championship last weekend to earn the right to move on to the Rochester Regional this weekend, running his record up to 28-0 in the process.
While fellow Rockies Nathan Benham, Jacob Segraves, Shawn Duff, John Mills, Austyn Lee, Clay Corsbie and Dan Stephenson also hit the mats at Rochester Saturday, Howe will face off against South Bend Riley’s Marcus Dozier.
“I have the South Bend Riley kid, who’s no slouch either,” said Howe. “He’s a big kid and he’s strong and if I win that match I’ll have the winner of Jeremiah Harvey and Shakir Carr from Clay. Once you get to the regional level and the semistate level everyone you face is going to be a quality opponent. There isn’t going to be anyone else who’s a weak wrestler or anything like that, so I’m going to have to be on my game from here on out.”
The heavyweight class at Rochester will be stacked with state-ranked wrestlers, including No. 2 Howe and No. 7 Harvey, who advanced in third place out of the Plymouth tourney last weekend, as well as No. 6-ranked Abe Hall of Bremen, who earned runner-up honors at The Rock with a pinfall loss to Howe.
Hall beat Harvey for the third time this season at sectionals, following overtime victories at the Plymouth Super Dual and the Northern State Conference meet, and Culver head coach Mike Buschman is hoping the fourth time will be the charm if the two meet up again Saturday.
“As far as the match with Abraham Hall goes, it’s just pretty much the same old story we’ve seen the past two times they’ve wrestled,” he said. “It’s just a matter of figuring out what to do against Abraham, who is a great wrestler and one of the top kids in the state. We may get the opportunity to see him a few more times as we move on and he’ll move on, and I’m hoping Jeremiah can get a win and that’s something he can kind of hang his hat on.”
Along with Harvey, fifth-ranked 189-pound Culver sophomore Matt Hurford will take on Mishawaka’s Trey Taylor as he hopes to make his way onto the state podium after finishing out his season with a first-round loss at the finals in 2010.
Culver’s 160-pounder Mark Hurford also wrestles Saturday at Rochester with fellow Cavaliers Ian Randolph and Allen Betts at 135 and 112, respectively.
Down the road at Culver Academies, meanwhile, six wrestlers will travel to Rochester this weekend in Luther Jacobs, David Zajac, Carlos Salinas, Edmond Hogan, Kayla Miracle and Anthony McHugh.
The 13th-ranked Miracle is coming off a 103-pound championship at Plymouth, while McHugh is coming off his first loss in the 119-pound championship.
“I really have high hopes for all of them,” said CMA head coach Matt Behling of his wrestlers. “I’d like to see Kayla move on to semistate. That’d be a great accomplishment for a young lady. I’d like to see her have a great regional tournament. I’d like to see Anthony McHugh make amends for this last weekend and come out and really go after it.”
Meanwhile, a pair of Bremen Lions grabbed sectional championships to move on in Jose Rodriguez and repeat 215-pound champion Alan Bollenbacher, while Hall, Tyler Felten and Justin Corl also move on after Corl lost the 140-pound championship to CMA’s Luther Jacobs after entering the tourney seeded in first place.
“He did a nice job throughout the match and put himself in a bad position and gave up some points in the third period, and that’s what ultimately cost him the match,” said Bremen head coach Shawn Campbell. “But I think once you reach that point, a loss can be a pretty good motivator and Justin is the kind of kid that’s going to take that loss and that’s exactly what it’s going to be.”