Andrew Ross (Warsaw 152) uses his hips to set up Valley’s Colton Crabb en route to a win by fall in 1:36
Andrew Ross (Warsaw 152) uses his hips to set up Valley’s Colton Crabb en route to a win by fall in 1:36
AKRON - The dual wrestling meet between the Warsaw Tigers and the Tippecanoe Valley Vikings opened at the 106-pound weight class, and the Tigers clinched the meet win with Jaxson Walters’ pin over Valley’s Eric Burke in the 170-lb weight class. The Vikings, trailing 41-16 with four weight classes remaining, won each of those matches by pin before falling short to the Tigers 41-40 Wednesday night.

Valley head wrestling coach Kyler Kearby expected a strong performance among his upper weights, but he was still disappointed in the early deficit his team faced among most of the lower and middle weight matches.

“We gave up two forfeits (106, 126) and a tech fall (170),” Kearby noted. “The rest were pins. We should have won that (meet). The excuse of ‘We’re young, we’re freshmen and sophomores, there’s no use for that.’ The kids gotta take accountability.

“Warsaw’s got some tough guys at the upper weights who had a good showing at the Al Smith (Invitational). For our guys to pin out, that was awesome.”

Each head coach had a different view of how well his respective team prepared for the meet.

“We had a decent week of practice, and our upper weights were in good condition” Kearby continued. “So, I was more disappointed with the mental part of it.”

Warsaw head coach Kris Hueber, conversely, was concerned about conditioning and preparation among his athletes competing in the upper weights.

“Are we matching the goals we laid out for ourselves by doing everything we need to do,” Hueber said. “Quality weight management during the week versus scrambling around the last 20 minutes before the meet because we did not take care of ourselves the way we should have.

“We missed weight in one of those (classes), and we came pretty close to missing another. Some of those wrestlers didn’t take advantage of optional practices offered during break. It also affected their process on the mat. I need to see the investment by the athletes toward the goals they’re setting.”

Each coach appreciates the rivalry between the two athletic programs, but at this point of the season with the regular season closing among grueling invitationals, conference championships followed by the post season journey, the focus is on progress and process evaluations.

“It’s not the local rivalry thing” Hueber remarked. “It’s evaluating at this point in the season what we need to do to improve.”

Kearby cited Zack Burke’s pin over Warsaw’s Harrison Stofer at 3:39 as a bright spot in the evening’s overall bittersweet experience each coach mutually shared. The 195-lb Viking junior and the Tigers’ Stofer each rolled the other to a near fall on his back before Burke pinned Stofer on the third roll. All this took place in less than 25 seconds.

Warsaw’s Bryce McNeese (106) picked up six points for the Tigers via forfeit, followed by Valley’s Joey Lybarger’s forfeit win at 113 lbs. Galvin Shambaugh (120) major-decisioned Elias Garza 12-1 before the Tigers’ Isaiah Martinez (126) picked up another forfeit for the orange and black.

The Vikings’ Drake Montelongo (132) won by fall (3:11) over Aaron Ross before the Tigers picked up three pins and one technical fall among the next four weight classes. Danny Moon (138), Grant Cook (145), and Andrew Ross (152) recorded pins.

Warsaw’s Bryson Brown picked up the extra point in the final seconds of his 160-lb. match’s final period with a 22-7 tech fall win. Brown led 20-7 in the match’s final seconds, and had he not picked up two near fall points as the buzzer sounded, the meet would have ended in a tie.  

“Grant Cook looked great tonight,” Hueber said. “Bryson Brown continues to get better.”

Valley’s four upper weight pins by Brandon Hammer (182), Burke, Bazle Owens (220), and Dalton Alber (285) wrapped up the night’s scoring. Owens recorded his pin in the final second of his match.

The Vikings will compete in a 16-bracket tournament in New Haven Saturday at 9 a.m. while Warsaw - on the same day, at the same time, in the same tournament format - will be travel to East Noble. Each team will use the weekend’s action to evaluate their progress.