Wildcats, Raiders embrace rivalryJanuary 15, 2019
By HENDRIX MAGLEY
JASPER — The rivalry between the high schools of Jasper and Southridge is nothing new.
No matter the sport, whenever these two teams do battle you can expect a competitive, intense matchup with an atmosphere that’s hard to find at many other places.
Tuesday night’s wrestling match between the Wildcats and Raiders at the Jasper High School gym is a perfect example. The lights were dimmed low to put a focus on the wrestlers grueling it out on the mats while fans from both schools were raucous and emphatic as several individual matches came down to third period major decisions.
While in the end it was the Raiders defeating the Wildcats 43-28, both teams were just happy to see this match return to the schedule after inclement weather forced a cancellation in 2018.
“It’s great because rivalries aren’t necessarily all about ‘they hate us, we hate them’ but it’s more about competing with your neighbors and trying to one up each other,” said Southridge head coach Dave Schank. “Last year we still got to see some of them individually but to be able to do it here under the lights with a good crowd, it’s a great way to end the regular season.”
While the match didn’t go the way the Wildcats were hoping, head coach Jace Brescher believes a matchup with a tough squad such as Southridge will prove beneficial with their Big Eight conference meet and sectional looming.
“These tough matches are the kind of matches we need,” Brescher said. “Being neighbors with Southridge, some of these guys are good friends of ours but when you step on the mat you have to make sure to bring out your competitive side.”
Winning for Southridge on Tuesday night was Tanner Kane (120, won by pin 1:44), Carson Niehaus (138, major decision 10-0), Trevor Hunefeld (145, decision 8-4), Brad Springer (152, won by pin 2:25), Tucker Schank (160, won by pin 0:35), Sam Schroeder (170, won by pin 2:00), Chase Taylor (220, won by pin 4:55) and Wyatt Kramer (285, won by pin 4:15).
Jasper recorded six victories on Tuesday with three of them winning by pin — Zachary Flynn (182), Jainier Milanes (106) and Carson Mehringer (113). Ian Giesler (132) and Ashton Schuetter (195) won by decision while Reece Fromme (126) won by a 14-2 major decision.
Kramer, who came away with a big pin in the third period of his match against Jasper’s Quade Popp, was extremely amped up afterwards and was glad he was able to pull through a match that came right down to the wire.
For Kramer, they key to succeeding in matches that go all three periods?
“Well, 15 years of wrestling helps,” Kramer said with a laugh. “A win like this kind of defines a season — if you can beat Jasper then it’s a tone setter to roll into the tournament.”
Flynn, who also recorded a pin in a decisive third round for Jasper, said the longer the matches take the more you have to be able to grind it out and hang on.
“It takes a lot of mental strength and a lot of physical strength too — my forearms were shot trying to hold him down the whole time,” said Flynn about his pin on Southridge’s Matt Springer in the 182-pound weight class. “You’ve just got to have that perseverance to keep going and going and know you’re going to eventually get that pin.”
With sectional just a little over a week away (Saturday, January 26 at Huntingburg Memorial Gym), both teams are using their tough schedules to help prepare them for what lies ahead.
Just in the past week, the Cats have faced off against the Raiders and Heritage Hills and also did battle with sectional foe Floyd Central earlier this season. With some more tough battles scheduled this Saturday at the Big Eight Conference meet at Vincennes, the Wildcats are hoping to go into the sectional prepared and ready to face whatever may come their way.
“The tougher the competition, the more it will help us peak,” Brescher said. “As hard as you can push in practice, nothing can meet the adrenaline and energy of a live match — especially a live match against a tough opponent.”
The Southridge wrestling team also had their fair share of tough opponents. They competed in tough events such as the Mooresville Invitational and the IHSWCA State Duals in Fort Wayne against ranked foes North Montgomery and Bellmont.
Schank believes these matches have made the Raiders battle-tested heading into the postseason.
“We have to get used to situations where maybe time’s running down and we’re either up or down by a point and you have to finish strong,” Schank said. “We’re going to be in some of those come tournament time and as you go up in the tournament, those situations get tougher.”
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