Hunter Miller of Wawasee wins his first 138-pound match of the day, beating Remington Rickel of Tippecanoe Valley.
Hunter Miller of Wawasee wins his first 138-pound match of the day, beating Remington Rickel of Tippecanoe Valley.
34 Times-Union readership area athletes among four schools had a strong performance in Saturday’s Plymouth wrestling sectional. These athletes advance to this coming Saturday’s Penn sectional at 9 a.m. The Wawasee Warriors (12 regional qualifiers) finished second in team scoring (249.5 points) to the host Plymouth Rockies (250.5 points), who clinched the team title with a major decision victory in the 285-pound championship bout, the afternoon’s final match.

The Warsaw Tigers (12 sectional qualifiers) finished third with 216.5 team points, Tippecanoe Valley finished fourth (8 regional qualifiers, 169 points), and the Triton Trojans finished seventh (64 points), and qualified two wrestlers.

Wawasee advanced eight wrestlers to the finals, earning four titles, and the Tigers surprised the fans and the field with six finalists, earning one title. Valley was the most efficient in its four title bouts, capturing titles in each of them, and Triton had one finalist wrestling under the single mat spotlight.

The Vikings’ Galvin Shambaugh major-decisioned Warsaw’s Elias Garza 9-0 in the 120-lb. bout. Drake Montelongo (132) also won by major decision over Wawasee’s Logan Stuckman 11-3. Brandon Hammer (182) decisioned Plymouth’s Matt McCrum 3-1, and Bazle Owens clinched the 195-lb. title by breaking a 7-7 tie in the third period to win 11-7 over the Warriors’ Blair Donovan.

“We were at a tournament right before Christmas break where we lost every finals match,” Valley head coach Kyler Kearby said. “Today we went 7-2 in all of our (placement) matches, so that’s huge.”

Owens, who is well-known in the Plymouth area, more than doubled his cheering section because his win opened the door for the Rockies’ final shot at the team title. A Warrior win at 195 lbs. would have clinched the team title for the Warriors even if Plymouth’s 285-lb. finalist, Anthony Popi, would have won by pin.

“(Bazle’s) got some connections over here,” Vikings head coach Kyler Kearby said. “He made that match a little tighter than it should have been… I’m proud of him for wrestling through that second period.”

Owens’s win opened the door for Popi and his Rockies. Popi’s win, a 16-6 major decision over Warsaw sophomore Gideon Castro, earned 5 team points to clinch the one-point team victory. He was one of four Rockies on the top of the championship podium.

The Warriors also took the top spot on the podium four times.

Kaleb Salazar (106) led off the spotlight bouts with a win by fall in 0:58 over the Tigers’ Bryce McNees. Dylan Tom (126) pinned Warsaw’s Isaiah Martinez in 3:23. Ethan Rodriguez (145) decisioned Bremen’s Bailey 5-2.

The Warriors’ fourth sectional champion, Cam Zimmerman captured a 13-11 nailbiter over Triton’s David Cox. The Trojan runner-up strategically let Zimmerman escape in hopes of tying the contest with another takedown with less than 10 seconds remaining, but time expired as Cox lunged twice at the Warrior grappler.

Other Warrior runners-up included Noah Wolf (113, by fall 5:26), and Gavin Malone (160, by decision 11-8).

Andrew Ross (152) was Warsaw’s lone champion among its six finalists. Ross’s 2-0 victory was a physical match with Plymouth’s Cadyn Smith, each grappler using hips and upper body to gain advantage, but Ross maintained control of Smith’s leg at the finish, holding on for the title.

Isaac Beam (220) joined the other four aforementioned Warsaw runners-up after a 12-6 loss.

“For two weeks… in tournament prep mode,” Tiger head coach Kris Hueber said. “We told our wrestlers we want to advance ten into the regional, and we want to place top three as a team. In the time I’ve been here we’ve maybe done that once.

“I know we talk about being young, but that’s the nature of this sport. But where we were a month ago and where we are now, we’ve jumped levels. Some of that is how they’ve turned it around in practice, and some of that is finally getting their feet under them, feeling comfortable.”

There were two head-to-head matches between area athletes for third place. Wawasee’s Hunter Miller pinned Warsaw’s Danny Moon in 1:53 (138). Wawasee’s Tim Shortt won by fall in 2:57 over Warsaw’s William Loeza (182).

In other third-place match action, Valley’s Joseph Lybarger (113) pinned Culver Academies’ Linus Ho in 1:45. The Tigers’ Bryson Brown (160) decisioned LaVille’s Ethan Sailors D 5-0. Brown’s teammate, Jaxson Cooper Walters pinned Plymouth’s Zach Truitt in 3:35in the 170-lb. match. Dalton Alber (Valley, 220) defeated Bremen’s Lane Moser by fall (2:56). Zackery Burke (Valley, 285) pinned Henry Martello of Culver Academies in 2:23. Burke was behind 7-0 before her reversed his fortune.

Fourth place finishers (weight class, school) who will move on to the Penn regional are Hudson Rodriguez (106, Triton), Gaige Boyd (120, Wawasee), Barrett Heller (Valley, 126), Aaron Ross (Warsaw, 132), Danny Moon (Warsaw, 138), Carson Nine (Wawasee, 152), William Loeza (Warsaw, 182), and Nathan Rosas (Warsaw, 195).

Fifth place finishers were Brenton Goodrich (Triton, 113), Grant Cook (Warsaw, 145), and Esaias Lemler (Triton, 182). These athletes are listed as regional match alternates in case qualifiers are unable to wrestle next Saturday.