CCHS wrestlers end careers on high notes

Culver Community High School wrestlers Allen Betts and Mark and Matt Hurford continue to strive for success day in and day out. All three of these wrestlers have one thing in common, other than all three being NSC and sectional champions: all three competed for a semi-state championship at Merrillville High School Saturday.

Allen Betts (113) knew he was in for the match of his life, not only to advance to the state championship, but to also keep his four-year wrestling career alive. But after an unfortunate first match loss to Hammond Morton wrestler Rickie Rodriguez, Betts's career was brought to an rough halt by a 6-4 loss by decision in overtime.

When asked about his career, Betts said, "I wish I would have started wrestling at a younger age, but I'm still proud of myself; semi-state is a big accomplishment. I've gotten so much better from my freshman year to my senior year. I want to thank my brother, parents, coaches and teammates for all their support through my career."

Another Culver wrestler whose career had a rough ending at semi state was Mark Hurford. A four year senior and a twelve year wrestler, he won his first match 8-7 against John Morrison from Kankakee Valley, but fell short to West Lafayette wrestler Jade Doty 12-4.

When asked about his career, he said, "I accomplished something good but I was one step from something better than this. But it feels like I should be here; I definitely had the skill to do everything I accomplished...I could have done more in the off season and outside of practice."

When asked about how he feels wrestling with his brother, who prior to the interview had just won a semi final round, Mark said, "I feel lucky to have him here. If he wasn't, I wouldn't have been where I am. I want to thank my siblings, parents, teammates, coaches, friends, and the community for all their support."

Hurford, who battled through a swollen knee that accrued after the sectional championships, ended up with a final season record of 36 wins and 8 losses.

The third Cavalier wrestler who competed at the IHSAA semi-state was Matt Hurford, a four year senior and lifetime wrestler who has been to semi-state multiple times prior to Saturday's event. Matt was a state qualifier in 2010, and he placed 5th at state in 2012. On Saturday, Hurford drew a bye for his first round and won his second round match by pin beating Winamac wrestler Richard Doty by technical fall 22-6, to punch his ticket to the state championships.

Matt then went on to beat Exvonte Jones from Portage by pin in 3:15. Hurford won his forth and final match of the tournament 16-7 against Ryan Jankowski from South bend St. Joe, winning his first ever semi-state championship.

After becoming the semi-state champion, Hurford said, "It feels good to win something I've never won before. It's been a fun day and I'm glad I got to be here with my brother. He didn't get what he wanted, but he made some good improvements from last year to this year. I'm looking forward to watching some good wrestling at state, but I have to get the most out of every practice and lift hard to prepare."

Caviler head wrestling coach Louis Posa said, "We have to focus on what's first and that's the match on Friday night. We need to have another great week of practice and continue on our path while focusing on our goals and taking it one step at a time. I'm looking forward to the being there for the final chapter of Matt's high school wresting career."

Matt Hurford will wrestle at the Bankers Life Field House in Indianapolis this Friday night, Feb. 15, at 6 p.m. If he's successful, he will advance to the quarter finals Saturday at 9:30 a.m.