FORT WAYNE — As a result of competition at Saturday’s Carroll individual regional wrestling tournament nine Whitley County wrestlers will take the next step toward an individual state title.
By placing in the top four at the regional those wrestlers will advance to next Saturday’s semistate at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
The Whitko Wildcats will advance five wrestlers by virtue of three second place and two fourth place finishes.
The day was not without drama for the Wildcats. At 119 pounds, previously undefeated junior Chas Busz suffered his first setback of the year.
In the finals Busz went up against Homestead’s Kody George. Busz built a 12-6 lead through two periods against the Homestead junior. Busz still led by six deep into the match, when George went on a tear scoring three consecutive takedowns to tie the score at 15-15 as time expired.
In the sudden death overtime period George scored another takedown for the 17-15 win. Busz advanced to the finals with a 14-1 win over Woodlan’s Austin Hammon and an 8-1 decision over Snider’s Mason Meling.
The Wildcats had two other wrestlers finish in the runner-up spot.
At 125 pounds senior Jordan Gilbert fell by a close 3-2 decision to Homestead senior Keelan Rushing. Gilbert made his way to the finals with a 17-2 tech fall over Wayne’s Shaun Johnson and 6-5 decision over Snider’s Jared Wilson.
The Wildcats final runner-up was junior Cody Bays. Bays worked his way into the finals at 140 pounds with a 9-4 decision over Snider’s Austin Whisler and a 5-3 win over Garrett’s Logan Lee.
In the finals Bays met Woodlan’s Cody Zink. Zink downed Bays 11-4 for the title.
The Wildcats also qualified two wrestlers by way of fourth-place finishes. Junior Austin Striggle qualified in the 189 pound weight class.
In the opening round Striggle scored an 11-1 major decision over New Haven’s Casey Paris. In the semifinals Striggle fell to Wayne’s then undefeated Redrecus McCurrie by a pinfall. Striggle then fell in the match for third-place to Churubusco senior Braxton Siddons by a 5-0 score. Siddons made his way into the match with a 13-4 major decision over Harding’s Nolan Wilson.
Siddons fell in the semifinals to eventual weight class champion Carroll’s Spencer Raypole, before coming back to take third with the win over Striggle.
Whitko’s Ben Hinora finished fourth in the 285 pound weight class to advance.
Hinora scored a 3-1 decision over South Side’s Vernie Starks before falling to weight class champion Ta’Quan Walker from North Side. Hinora dropped a 1-0 decision in the third-place match to Heritage’s Josh Mitchell.
“Typically we pride ourselves on winning the close matches so this has been a little disappointing for us today, but it’s better to get the losses here rather than next week,” Whitko coach Frank Bumgardner said. “We would like to win these matches and get higher seeds, but you still have to win two matches to advance.”
Including Siddons, Churubusco will advance four wrestlers to the semistate. Senior Zach Armstead advances with a third-place finish at 140 pounds.
Armstead downed South Side’s Sean Cooley with a 3-1 decision before falling to weight class champion Cody Zink. Armstead came back to take a 1-0 win over Garrett’s Logan Lee in the third-place match.
The Eagles also had a third-place finisher at 130 pounds. Adam Boggess took a 9-2 decision over Woodlan’s Haydan Parisot.
Boggess fell in the semifinals to Snider’s Tony Elkins before coming back to take a 7-6 decision over New Haven’s Reese Sieger for third-place.
Brian Richardson placed fourth at 171 pounds to account for Churubusco’s final qualifier. Richardson scored a 4-2 decision over Woodlan’s Jeremy Salmon before falling to weight class champion Jeff Enrietto from Carroll.
Richardson also fell in the third-place match to Bishop Dwenger’s Ben Evans.
“I thought we wrestled pretty well today,” Churubusco coach Sam Riesen said. “We got four of our six wrestlers out, and any time you get four wrestlers to the semistate, that’s a pretty good day.”
Several other Whitley County wrestlers fell in the first round and did not advance.
At 112 pounds Whitko’s Colton LeTourneau fell to eventual champion Erique Early from Snider while Columbia City’s Bryce Forrester fell by a pin to Heritage’s Alex Richman.
At 125 pounds, Columbia City’s Alan Trabert fell to champion Keelan Rushing from Homestead.
Churubusco’s Brandon Wormcastle fell to New Haven’s Zack Zurbrugg by fall at 152 pounds and fellow Eagle Jason Nicodemus dropped a 4-2 decision to Snider’s K.C. Corey, and Whitko’s Ian Pherigo fell to weight class runner-up Levy Francois by a 12-4 decision.