Wrestlers get set for sectionals on Saturday

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

Sectional time is here for the four local wrestling teams. Southridge will host Jasper and Forest Park for sectionals, while Heritage Hills will travel to Castle. Here is a look to where teams stand ahead of sectionals on Saturday.

Jasper Wildcats

Photo by Kayla Renie/The Herald
Jasper head coach Jace Brescher knows team effort will be crucial to a successful outing at sectionals.

Jasper nearly came away with a Jan. 21 win against Southridge, falling in its final match, but Wildcats coach Jace Brescher noted that dual-style wrestling and tournament-style wrestling are two different animals. Jasper also took second in the Big Eight Conference Tournament Jan. 25. The Wildcats had a 232 score, just missing out on champion Mount Vernon’s 240.

Brescher doesn’t believe individual weight champions at sectional will make as much of a difference team-wise as much as wrestlers who finish in third and fourth place will. It’s people critical to team points that Brescher wants peaking this week. He believes his Wildcats have that kind of depth to get those third and fourth place finishes.

“There’s going to be some battles, and I think it will come down to those people that are scratching for third, fourth, fifth, sixth,” Brescher said. “The wrestlebacks are going to be really important and getting pins.”

Jasper has a few wrestlers that Brescher believes can be an individual weight champion at sectionals. He touted junior Jainier Milanes, sophomore Ian Giesler, juniors Will Collon and Quade Popp as all having that kind of potential.

Brescher thinks some who could surprise individually at sectionals are senior Ayden Wigand, whom he praised as a smart wrestler that uses technique instead of muscle, and also junior Liam Kibby, who needs to keep consistency, as he could look like a state champion in a given match.

“He’s got a lot of potential,” he said of Kibby. “I’m not saying that he’s going to go out and win it, but he could be one that sneaks up on somebody and places a lot higher than maybe his seed would indicate.”

Brescher said all of his wrestlers need to be fully motivated and work together as a team to try to deliver Jasper a sectional championship.

“It’s got to be that team effort, that team motivation,” Brescher said. “Everybody’s got to feed off of one another.”

Southridge Raiders

Photo by Kayla Renie/The Herald
Southridge head coach Kurt Collins is preaching bonus points to being crucial for the Raiders doing well at sectionals.

Southridge is looking for another sectional crown this weekend. The Raiders have enjoyed some runner-up finishes under first-year coach Kurt Collins. They took second in the Class 1A Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association state-duals tournament. Southridge also partook in the Pocket Athletic Conference Tournament Jan. 25, scoring 206 points, second only to North Posey’s 250.5. The Raiders boasted an individual champion in the 160-pound class in senior Sam Schroeder.

Collins has high expectations for his wrestlers, and believes they are capable of bigger and better things. He wants the Raiders to keep working on the basic stuff, such as having their heads up with good stance and having a lot of motion. Collins believes they are getting better, but it’s an ongoing process.

“I’ve been thoroughly impressed,” Collins said.

He’s had to use more freshmen than he normally would have. Collins said the Raiders once had seven freshmen in their lineup at one point in the season, and some of those freshmen have wasted no time in making their name known around the PAC. Xavier Horton came in second place in the 120-pound class in conference, while Reid Schroeder grabbed third place in the 152-pound class.

Collins likes a lot of his wrestlers chances to win an individual sectional. He believes Sam Schroeder will win one, and thinks fellow senior Weston Allen could do the same. Collins mentioned seniors Trevor Hunefeld and Cade Patton as potential champions, too, but also knows a dark horse could emerge. He mentioned a few third place winners at the PAC meet who could surprise on Saturday, such as Reid Schroeder, sophomore Carson Niehaus in the 138-pound class and junior Tanner Kane in the 145-pound class.

“Every sectional, every tournament that you go to, there’s always a big surprise,” he said. “I hope that we have several surprises on Saturday.”

He knows they can’t give up the easy points. Collins talked about Southridge needing eight points if down by six, or securing that pin if the Raiders have an opponent on their back. He said a wrestler should try to get third place if he’s the fourth seed, or win the sectional if he’s the second seed. Collins harped on the importance of bonus points.

“That’s the only way you’re going to compete with the Floyd Centrals and the schools the size of Jasper is by putting points on the board,” Collins said. “Any time we get a chance to go up against Floyd Central or Jasper, we got to beat them, and hopefully some of the other schools will help us as well by putting some of those guys out.”

Forest Park Rangers

Herald File Photo
Forest Park wrestling coach Craig Recker believes junior Travis Haug (right) will be in the mix of things in the 126-pound class at sectionals.

Forest Park finished on the opposite end of the spectrum as Southridge, finishing in eighth place out of nine teams with a score of 76 during the PAC meet. Coach Craig Recker knew conference was an opportunity to make the team better, win or lose, given the quality of competition that teams like North Posey and Southridge provide. There’s no doubt to him that PAC will make his wrestlers better for this weekend.

Some of his wrestlers came up short in conference matches. Senior Cole Mohr wrestled Southridge sophomore Cayden Andrews in overtime of the 132-pound class in the third-place match, but Mohr could not get the takedown. Recker said Mohr didn’t have a lack of effort, but a poor decision resulted in a loss. He still thought his senior grappler wrestled a really good match, though. Junior Travis Haug also came short in a match in the 126-pound class.

The Rangers also found success in tight situations, however. Senior Isaac Brosmer finished runner-up in the 113-pound class, reaching the finals after completing a comeback against North Posey sophomore Camden Lupfer. Brosmer got his 100th career win earlier this season.

“I know he wants to definitely wants to get back to that semistate,” Recker said of Brosmer. “He’d extremely like to have a sectional championship. It’s going to start this Saturday to set him up for semistate.”

Recker believes Haug is going to be in the thick of things in his class. He talked about Haug now knowing what it’s like to lose a close match and hopes he won’t come up on the losing end this time. Recker called the 126-pound class a talented class, but finds Haug to be capable in coming out on top.

“He’s definitely going to be in the mix,” he said of Haug.

Recker is hoping Mohr can make an impact at sectionals because of the work he has put in. He thinks Mohr has had a solid season, not winning every match he should’ve won, but not losing every match he should’ve lost. Recker hopes the experience Mohr has had all year will help him pull through.

He said sophomore Patrick Recker has missed some time with injuries this year. Coach Recker said Patrick sat out in the conference event trying to get him to 100 percent, and thinks the Rangers can compete in the 120-pound class if Patrick can get close to 100 percent.

However, Coach Recker also made it clear that rust is a concern with Patrick, since a wrestler can learn either from a win or from a loss and there’s no replacing experience.

“That could definitely be a factor come Saturday,” he said. “He gets in a tough match, sometimes experience could win out. He’s got his work cut out for him by all means.”

He wants Forest Park to spend the week improving on what it’s good at, and bringing it to the mat come sectional time. Recker mentioned that the Rangers often practice offense, but will wrestle defensively in live action. He’s looking for his grapplers to shine regardless of what type of wrestler they are.

“If you’re A-move is offense, you need to do your A-move on Saturday,” Recker said. “This is the time of year to use your A-move, no use to hold it back at this point. You need to go out and win the match. We’re going to work on A-moves this week, whether it’s offense or defense, either way, because some kids, they don’t have the speed or the agility to maybe be an offensive guy, but they need to be really good on defense.”

Recker stressed the importance of conditioning going into the season, and he sees conditioning as the area Forest Park has improved the most in during the year. He felt Forest Park was always a step behind early on and paid the consequences for that in November and December, but wanted “no excuses” upon returning in January. Recker now thinks his wrestlers are conditioned enough where they can go for six minutes. He thinks the Rangers have the strength, the technique and conditioning down pat, and now it’s all about being mentally tough. Recker talked about winning creating confidence, and turning that confidence into mental toughness, but also noted Forest Park wrestling has already undergone something tough this year with the Nov. 4 death of teammate Anderson Peters. He’s hoping Peters will be on the team’s side.

He called sectional a clean slate with the opportunity for one to make his own history, especially if that wrestler is a senior. Recker wants Brosmer and Mohr to step up and show the world what they’re made of.

“It’s my job to have them ready,” he said. “We’re going to try our best this week to have them ready and we’re going to see what happens on Saturday.”

Heritage Hills Patriots

Photo by Kayla Renie/The Herald
Heritage Hills head coach Adam Zollman believes everybody on the roster will have played a hand if the Patriots win a sectional championship Saturday.

Heritage Hills coach Adam Zollman is concerned with getting his wrestlers healthy for sectionals. The Patriots finished in the middle of the pack at PAC, garnering fifth place on their home turf, but they had no points in either the 126-pound class or the 220-pound class, as both junior Wyatt Atkins and sophomore Evan Bowling were out sick, but came back to school on Monday. Zollman isn’t sure if the Pats could’ve finished higher with those two in the lineup, depending on bonus points, but thought some wrestlers did better than he thought they would, and some of them picked up “revenge wins,” as freshman Blake Duttlinger scored a win against South Spencer sophomore Coltan Vance in the 106-pound class. Fellow freshman Brody Ford in the 182-pound class met Tecumseh sophomore Jared McKinley after McKinley had previously pinned Ford twice, but Ford got the win this time and went on to win the fifth-place match.

Zollman saw both wins as huge for two freshmen that are beginning to get to their peak point at the end of the year.

“They’ve improved greatly in the last month-and-a-half since we last saw those two guys,” Zollman said. “So, I’m excited about that.”

The Pats saw their senior wrestling trio of Sam Scott, Beau Heeke and Phoenix Rodgers deliver the goods in conference. Scott won the 120-pound class. Heeke finished second in the 132-pound class and Rodgers got first in the 195-pound class. Scott will finish his high school career as a conference champion all four years, and Zollman said that’s an expectation for Scott. He believes his senior trio should all be victorious on Saturday and added it’s fun that they’ve taken a leadership role. There are some juniors that don’t have a lot of experience, such as Atkins and Cole Neighbors, but Zollman thinks those two can get Heritage Hills bonus points to improve its team score and capture its first sectional championship since 2012.

The second-year head coach thinks Heritage Hills has most improved on its expectation to win. Zollman thought the Pats started doubting themselves until they began competing in tournaments and reaching success.

“Now, instead of being scared of dudes that they don’t know, they’re excited,” he said. “They’re ready to go. They’re like, ‘Hey I want that kid.’ I’m like. ‘Yeah, that’s awesome.’”

He sees sophomore Braxton Hays as a sleeper for the team who might sneak up on people. Hays finished third in the 113-pound class at conference, and Zollman thinks Hays probably has the best shot at winning a sectional in his class after the three seniors.

“I fully expect him to be top two,” Zollman said of Hays.

Zollman said conditioning is going well and the Pats can now go for the six minutes. Practices are individualized at this point, and technique relies on improving where each specific wrestler needs some fine tuning. This week will emphasize the team being good in their positions and staying strong in their spots, not getting anything out of control or being desperate with moves. He wants the team the control all six minutes of the match.

He views consistency as the biggest obstacle to a sectional championship Saturday at Castle. Zollman talked of his wrestlers staying off their back if they’re in a bad spot. He knows how important scoring points will be, since everybody on the team will help the Pats win the sectional should they triumph. He believes they have a high capability level, but now the focus is on sectionals and not previous accomplishments.

“‘This is all warmup, this is all preparing you for it,’” he told his wrestlers. “I think our younger guys are buying into that and understanding that they’re ready to go, that this is the time that we’re peaking and we’re getting after it.”




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