SEMI-STATE: Three county wrestlers advance in tournament

HUNTERTOWN — The season goes on for all three Whitley County wrestling teams as Columbia City, Churubusco and Whitko each qualified a wrestler for next Saturday’s IHSAA Wrestling Semi-State.Columbia City’s Russell Hazelet qualified with a fourth-place finish at 182 pounds and Churubusco freshman Chase Downing advanced by placing fourth in the 120-pound weight class. Whitko senior Cody Bays will represent the Wildcats by way of a third-place finish at 145 pounds.Hazelet scored a 56-second pinfall win over New Haven’s Matt Robinson in the quarterfinals to advance to meet No. 1 seed and eventual weight class champion Cody Conrad of Heritage. In the match for third place Hazelet fell to Bishop Dwenger’s Ben Evans 5-2 in a match that was close throughout.Downing advanced with what was probably the most dramatic of the quarterfinal wins with a pinfall win with one-second left in the second period while trailing 9-3 against New Haven’s Ryan Shaffer. Downing dropped a 10-5 decision to Lockett to take the fourth and final qualifying spot.Whitko’s Bays filled out the Whitley County qualifiers with his third-place finish at 145 pounds. Bays advanced to the semifinals with a first period pinfall win over Snider’s Dustin Wells. In the semifinals, Bays squared off against Sam Johnson of Bishop Luers who advanced with a 10-3 win over Columbia City junior Alan Trabert.All three Whitley County coaches were unanimous that despite the desire to qualify more wrestlers for semi-state competition, they were pleased at getting at least one wrestler through.Columbia City Head Coach Blane Culp said, “One wrestler is an improvement over last year. Realistically I thought we might get a couple more through, but at least we got the one through, which means another week or wrestling and another week of practice to prepare."“‘One is better than none’ is one way of looking at it,” said Churubusco Coach Sam Riesen. “And with him (Downing) down 9-3 it could easily have been none.”“We knew we should advance anywhere between one and four,” said Whitko Head Coach Frank Bumgardner. “We knew we had to wrestle well to get more out. We’re not fully satisfied, but now we just have to concentrate on the one that we did get out.”The semi-state competition will take place at the Memorial Coliseum with rounds beginning at 9 a.m. The top four finishers in each weight class will advance to the state finals.