Fischer, Rickenbaugh bound for wrestling finals

From Herald Staff Reports

Two local wrestlers punched tickets to this weekend’s state finals in Indianapolis — one for the third time in four years, the other as his school’s first state qualifier in almost a decade.

Heritage Hills senior Jake Rickenbaugh finished third at 170 pounds for his second straight trip and third total to Indianapolis, and Southridge’s Andy Fischer became the first Raider wrestler since Calvin Bueltel in 2006 to reach the state finals. Jasper had five wrestlers compete Saturday, but none advanced to state. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the state finals, which begin Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Rickenbaugh couldn’t defend last season’s semistate title but still became the eighth state qualifier in six years for the Patriots. Ranked second in the state at 170, Rickenbaugh lost to eventual champion and third-ranked Jacob Stevenson of Franklin 3-2 in his third bout of the day but rebounded to pin Evansville Mater Dei’s Bennet Kempf in the consolation match. Patriot coach Matt Thompson said a Rickenbaugh-Stevenson rematch at the state finals is a possibility, considering several of the top wrestlers in the 170 class have been ousted — including Western Boone’s Austin McCloskey, who was ranked No. 1.

Patriot senior Gabe Konerding just missed the state finals for third straight year with a loss to Franklin’s Michael Petrole, the top-ranked wrestler at 182. Konerding finished his career with 157 wins, second in program history only to Jeff Weiss with 162.

“He has been a real pleasure to coach over the years and we will miss his leadership next year,” Thompson said of Konerding.

The Pats’ other semistate competitor, Ryan Baker, lost his opening match to Southridge’s Ethan Schwoeppe.

Southridge’s Fischer finished fourth at 182, dropping his last two matches of the day but clinching a state berth with a pair of victories to start the day. Fischer pinned South Putnam’s Kyle Shaffer in the third period and edged Mater Dei’s Sam Bassemier 3-2 in the second round.

“It’s tremendous,” Raider coach Dave Schank said. “I don’t know if we’ve realized (the significance) yet. I think we will Friday night when we do the parade of champions, but it’s huge for the program.”

“We just feel fortunate (Fischer) came out for wrestling a couple years ago,” he added with a laugh about his senior, who switched from swimming to wrestling his junior season.

Schwoeppe ended his season short of the state finals with a loss to Jeffersonville’s Gavin Jolley-Little for the second straight year. Jolley-Little earned a 3-2 decision in what Schank called a “wild” match that lasted seven overtimes. Schwoeppe ends his career as the all-time wins leader at Southridge with 150.

Southridge’s other semistate qualifiers, Mitchell Mundy (145), Bryce Harter (170) and Alex Merkel (220) all suffered first-round losses.

For Jasper, senior Nathan Schitter couldn’t repeat his state berth from a year ago after an 11-7 defeat to Mount Vernon’s Austin Bethel in the second round. His classmate, Ruger Kerstiens, fell 6-0 in the ticket round to eventual 182-pound champ Brendon Kelley of Evansville Central. Kerstiens did secure a state alternate position, though, with the loss to the top-ranked Kelley.

Jasper’s Cole Kreilein (170) and Moises Valenciano (heavyweight) also snagged first-round victories before losing in the second round. Wildcat junior Dillon Hurst (106) dropped a 6-5 verdict to Brown County’s Evan Bullock in the opening round.

Forest Park’s lone qualifier, Cody Flamion, was pinned by Charlestown’s Bryant Haynes in the opening round in the 126 division.

Vikings 62, Rangers 41: Forest Park fell behind 17-7 after one quarter and couldn’t recover in Montgomery, where Class 1A No. 1 Barr-Reeve (17-1) notched its third straight win over the Rangers (9-9).

Sophomore Ben Wendholt tallied a career-high 12 points to lead Forest Park, which also received 11 points from Damon Wilmes and nine from Joel Weyer. Addison Wagler accumulated a game-high 24 points for the Vikings, who finished on a 21-7 flurry after Forest Park pulled within 41-34 after three quarters.

The Rangers, who haven’t lost more than two games in a row all season, will look to rebound Tuesday at Boonville (1-15).

Alices 45, Patriots 38: Gavin Schaefer, Devon Merder and Spenser Minto each tallied eight points for Heritage Hills (13-5), which went without a double-digit scorer for the first time in four seasons in a loss at Vincennes Lincoln.

Avory Mickens secured a game-high 14 points for Lincoln (14-5), which was a perfect 16-of-16 at the free throw line and outrebounded the Pats 29-16 but committed 21 turnovers to Heritage Hills’ 10.

Tyler Ward chipped in six points for the Pats, who missed all nine of their 3-point attempts but hit all six free throws.

The Pats (5-2 Pocket Athletic Conference), who remain one game back in the PAC standings, will travel to Tell City  (5-13, 0-5) on Friday.

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