ROCHESTER — Success in the football season meant a slow start for Bremen in the wrestling season, but the Lions finally seemed to be taking off Friday.
Led by Abraham Hall’s championship at 285, Bremen wrestlers captured three top three finishes and salvaged another five top-seven finishes after early losses to lift the Class 2A Lions to a fifth-place team finish at the 16-team John McKee Memorial Wrestling Tournament at Rochester Friday.
South Bend Clay won the meet with 234 points, while Bremen put up 132 in fifth place, Plymouth placed eighth with 108 points, Culver was 12th with 97.5 points, LaVille placed 15th with a score of 66, and Triton rounded out the field with 46.5 points.
“It’s been a different kind of season because we had such a late start because of the success that we had in football, and a large part of the kids are football players,” said Bremen head wrestling coach Shawn Campbell. “This is a good point as our first individual tournament to kind of see where we’re at with a lot of the other schools and a lot of good competition. I felt like through the course of the day things got much better.”
Along with Hall’s championship pinfall win over Plymouth’s DeAndre Pickford in the heavyweight division, Tyler Felten finished third with a win over Plymouth’s John Mills at 103 pounds, and Joey Baily placed third in the 112-pound class with a pinfall win in the consolation round. Bobby Cornett was fourth at 152, Dylan Shumaker finished fifth at 126, Caleb Coffel was sixth at 220, and Tyler LaFlash and Wyatt Gordy placed seventh at 120 and 152, respectively.
“We had a slow start to the beginning of the day so I was questioning how it was going to end up,” said Campbell. “Then even later in the day we had a couple matches that were tougher than they probably needed to be and we lost them, but we were still able to hang on to fifth place, which I was pretty happy with.”
Hall, who recently recovered from a dislocated finger sustained during Bremen’s Class 2A semistate football run, was awarded the tourney’s Outstanding Wrestler award with three pinfall victories on the day.
“He’s just continued to improve since the beginning of the season and he’s just continued to improve and a lot of that is just his willingness to improve and his willingness to be a student of the sport and be teachable and coachable,” said Campbell of Hall. “And he worked hard in the off-season; he did a lot of wrestling over the summer, he traveled to lots of wrestles, saw some good competition. From that standpoint, he deserves to be where he is now because he’s worked hard at it, and it’s good to see hard work pay off.”
While Pickford’s runner-up result at heavyweight was Plymouth’s top finish of the day, Mills was fourth at 103, Jacob Seagraves placed fourth at 195, Ian Horvath and Steven Abair were fifth at 170 and 132, respectively, and Kam Markovich, Jacob LaFree and Osman Solis — who gave up more than 13 pounds to opponents Friday — all placed eighth at 126, 138 and 113, respectively.
“Mills lost a close match to the Clay kid that ended up winning it, and the kid that beat Sesgraves from Clay ended up winning it. So we lost to a couple winners there,” said Plymouth coach Bob Read.
“We’re young. Our kids are getting better; we just don’t have the horses right now to compete at the caliber of tournament that we were at.”
Culver, meanwhile, was led by Matt Hurford’s championship at 182, which he won by a 17-1 tech fall. It was the junior’s second week since dropping from 220.
“He got down to 182 last week, and this is his second week at 182. He’s feeling good, he’s working hard, and he’s focused,” said first-year head coach Louis Posa, a former Trine wrestler. “He’s on a mission, and we’re really excited about what he’s going to do and looking forward to a lot of positive things he has ahead of him. He’s a very hard worker, and he’s been a good leader for our team.”
Hurford’s 182-pound championship was the only title for the Cavaliers at Rochester, but Ian Randolph reached the championship round at 130 to finish second, Betts was fifth at 113, Mark Hurford placed sixth at 160, Keith Back was seventh at 138, and Josh Walters finished eighth at 120 to help lift the Cavs to a 12th-place team finish.
“Ian Randolph had a good day; he wrestled above his seed and got second,” said Posa. “Allen Betts, he lost a tough one early that he planned on winning, but he wrestled hard to get back in it and finish as well as he could and got fifth. I also thought that Keith Back wrestled tough for us. He had a good day. He was unseeded and he came back and ended up getting seventh.
“We had some guys really step up for us. Some guys didn’t do as well as they hoped, but I think the attitude is positive, and we’re going to get back to work. We’re focused on Pioneer coming up next weekend and just continuing to get better and perform to the best of our ability.”
LaVille filled just seven weight classes at Friday’s tournament, meanwhile, and fell 14 points shy of 14th as 195-pounder Garrett Leed’s arm injury knocked him out of contention and into sixth place.
“It’s been popping out all year. It’s about the second or third time it’s happened,” said LaVille head coach Mike Bottorf. “We don’t have anything for two weeks. In practice he’s only been running and jogging. My trainer says there’s nothing we can do for it now or he’s out the rest of the year so we’re going to try to milk it. As long as he doesn’t get a lot of pressure on it like in an arm bar or something like that, he’s fine.”
Tristan Weaver finished third at 126 for the Lancers, meanwhile, while Jacob Vanbaricom and Nathan VanBuskirk were both seventh at 106 and 285, respectively.
Triton also surrendered a number of forfeits at the big meet to round out the field.
Dakota Grubbs was the Trojans’ highest placer at 152, while Jesse Burkholder was seventh at 113, and Justin Hefner and Joseph Soriano were eighth at 285 and 106, respectively.
For many teams, the Rochester meet offered the chance at a preview against conference and sectional foes, as well as an opportunity for an individual tourney format in an age where super duals have increasingly become the invitational format of choice.
“That’s one of the reasons we get in there,” said Read. “Culver’s in our sectional, Bremen’s in our sectional, Triton’s in our sectional, and we don’t see any of those three in dual meet action, so it’s good to see what they have and wrestle either against them or kids who’ve wrestled against them. That helps for seeding purposes.”
“For a tournament, we wrestle a lot of super duals, so this tournament helps us because it’s the same format that you’re going to get. I know that we don’t have a 16-team bracket at sectional, there’s only nine teams so it’s less, but it’s still the same environment, the same format,” Read continued. “The kids don’t have the opportunity to warm up between rounds like they would in a super dual; you’ve got to make sure that you’re ready, you’ve got watch which mat you’re wrestling on and make sure one of the coaches is with you. So there are a lot of things in tournament action in this format that we’re going to run into when we get into the state tournament, so that’s what’s important for us there.”
• JOHN MCKEE INVITATIONAL
Team scores: 1. Clay 234, 2. Churubusco 187.5, 3. Northridge 158, 4. Tippecanoe Valley 134, 5. Bremen 132, 6. Washington 120, 7. Rochester 117, 8. Plymouth 108, 9. Rensselaer 108, 10. North Miami 107, 11. Manchester 100, 12. Culver 97.5, 13. Knox 90, 14. Caston 80, 15. LaVille 66, 16. Triton 46.5.
103: Jacob Hartman (Clay) beat Alan Mock (North Miami) 4-3; 112: Wyatt Nelson (Tippecanoe Valley) beat John Hunting (Rochester) 8-0; 119: Devin Puckett (Northridge) beat J. Heckathorn (Rochester) 7-6; 125: Garrett Gluekert (Clay) beat Ryan Baxter (Northridge) 2-0; 130: Mitchell Hartman (Clay) beat Ian Randolph (Culver) 11-1; 135: Jeff Martin (Rennselaer) beat Chris Johnson (Clay) 3-2; 140: Levi McKee (North Miami) beat Payton Sorg (Manchester) 9-1; 145: Graham Redweik (Caston) pinned Braxton Lee (Rochester) 5:40; 152: Garrett Majchrzak (Knox) pinned Trent Bauters (Tippecanoe Valley) 1:22; 160: Jason Nicodemus (Churubusco) beat Michael Bates (Washington) 5-3; 170: Jason Nicodemus (Churubusco) dec Michael Bates (SB Washington), 5-3; 182: Matt Hurford (Culver) tech fall Sam Siddons (Churubusco) 17-1; 189: Jaylin Allen (Clay) beat Brian Richardson (Churubusco) 6-3; 215: Joe Gallegos (Clay) beat Aaron Snep (Manchester) 12-3; 285: Abraham Hall (Bremen) pinned DeAndre Pickford (Plymouth) 2:21.
103: Tyler Felten (Bremen) beat John Mills (Plymouth) 4-0; 112: Joey Bailey (Bremen) pinned Justin Stevens (Washington) 3:45; 119: Devin Childers (Tippecanoe Valley) beat Clayton Moore (Manchester) 11-2; 125: Tristan Weaver (LaVille) beat Wade Craver (Knox) 13-0; 130: Derek Fowler (Washington) beat Hunter Hickman (Rensselaer) 10-0; 135: Adam Boggess (Churubusco) beat William Howell-Bey (Washington) 9-3; 140: Joey Heaton (Churubusco) beat Isaiah White (Washington) 5-4; 145: Dakota Grubbs (Triton) beat Brandon Wormcastle (Churubusco) 11-3; 152: Michael Roe (Rensselaer) beat Bobby Cornett (Bremen) 5-1; 160: Dwight Hunter (Clay) beat Keaton Bell (Tippecanoe Valley) 7-4; 171: Mike Sustaita (Knox) pinned Neil Snep (Manchester) 2:47; 189: Tyler Hoover (North Miami) beat Jacob Seagraves (Plymouth) 4-2; 215: Chris Connell (Northridge) beat Chris Salrin (Rensselaer) 5-3; 285: Shakir Carr (Clay) pinned Caleb Turnipseed (North Miami) 2:12.