FORT WAYNE — The long postseason trip to an individual state title began for wrestlers from all three Whitley County schools Saturday at Carroll High School.
With the top four wrestlers in each weight class advancing to the regional level, 15 Whitley County grapplers, including three weight class champions will make the trip back to Carroll for regional.
Last year’s team champion Whitko led the Whitley County schools with a fifth-place finish and seven regional qualifiers. Churubusco will send six wrestlers on with their sixth-place team finish while Columbia City — who placed ninth as a team — will send two wrestlers to regional competition.
“Saturday went in many ways as expected,” Churubusco head coach Sam Riesen said. “Our sectional is one of the toughest in the state. To get six guys out may not seem like a lot, but it’s a pretty good number considering the competition.”
Host Carroll took the team competition with 234 points with Leo second at 157.5. The host Chargers had six individual weight class champions. Bishop Dwenger was third and Garrett fourth.
Whitko wrestlers claimed three weight class titles, the most other than Carroll. The Wildcats took titles at 119, 125, and 140 pounds. The Wildcats also took the runner-up spot at 112 and 189 pounds.
The Wildcat’s Chas Busz pinned his way to the title at 119 pounds. In the quarterfinals, Busz knocked off Churubusco’s Clint Bechtold in 1:22. Busz took down Garrett’s Augie Novy in a pin at 3:51 to advance to the finals — where he pinned Leo’s Logan Gengler in 1:08 to take the title.
At 125 pounds, Whitko senior Jordan Gilbert took the title with a tough 4-1 decision over Garrett’s Austin McCray. Gilbert made his way to the finals with pinfall wins over Northrop’s David Wilde in 3:59 and Columbia City’s Alan Trabert at the 3:45 mark of their semifinal match.
Trabert will also advance to the regional by way of a fourth-place finish. Trabert began the day with pinfall wins over Churubusco’s Austin Boggess and Concordia’s Alec King before falling to Gilbert.
The Wildcats picked up their third title at 140 pounds when Cody Bays claimed a 3-2 win over Churubusco’s Zach Armstead. Bays made his way to the finals with a 17-2 tech fall win over Columbia City senior Justin Trigg in the quarterfinals and a 5-4 win over Bishop Dwenger’s Russell Coonan in the semifinal round.
Armstead, who will also advance with his runner-up finish, entered the finals by way of a 5-3 win over Garrett’s Logan Lee in the quarterfinals and a 2-1 win over Carroll’s Riley Lefever in the semifinals.
Whitko and Churubusco both send two runner-up finishers on to the regional round of competition. Joining Armstead as a runner-up for Churubusco was Adam Boggess at 130 pounds. Boggess fell by pinfall in the finals to Garrett’s Brayden Moreau.
Boggess came into the finals with a pinfall victory over Concordia’s Jacob Dillman and a 14-9 decision over Carroll’s Spencer Malcom.
Whitko’s Colton LeTourneau and Austin Striggle claimed second-place finishes for the Wildcats. LeTourneau took the runner-up spot at 112 pounds, dropping a 5-2 decision to Carroll’s Christian Wilmer in the finals. LeTourneau made his way into the finals with a pinfall win over Leo’s Anthony Cosgrove and a 5-3 decision over Cameron Scher from Bishop Dwenger.
Striggle took the runner-up spot at 189 pounds falling by the slimmest of margins, 1-0 to Carroll’s Spencer Raypole. Striggle downed Concordia’s Logan Blaising 2-1 and Garrett’s Austin Gibson 3-1 to advance to the finals.
Raypole handed Churubusco’s Braxton Siddons his first defeat of the year by a slim 4-3 margin in the semifinals. Siddons came back to defeat Gibson in a pinfall at 1:35 to take third-place for the Eagles.
Other third-place finishers included Churubusco’s Jason Nicodemus at 145 pounds. Nicodemus downed Whitko’s Ian Pherigo, who also advances. Churubusco’s Brian Richardson took third at 171 pounds to move on to regional competition.
Whitko’s Ben Hinora took third at 285 pounds to give the Wildcats another regional qualifier.
Joining Trabert and Pherigo as fourth-place finishers and qualifiers were Columbia City’s Bryce Forrester, and Churubusco’s Brandon Wormcastle. Forrester made his way to the semifinals at 112 pounds before falling to eventual class champion Wilmer of Carroll, while Wormcastle fell to Bishop Dwenger’s Carter Delaney in both the quarterfinals and the match for third-place.