By KEVIN HARRIS
On Feb. 1 at Johnson Arena, the Floyd Central wrestling team persevered in the final round to repeat as Jeffersonville Sectional champions.
During the final round of the Jeff Regional on Saturday at Johnson Arena, it was a different story for the Highlanders.
Floyd Central went 1-5 in the final round to finish second with 84 points. The Highlanders fell short of repeating as regional champions by two points to Hoosier Hills Conference rival Madison, which won its first regional championship since 1997.
The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to next Saturday’s Evansville Reitz Semistate at the Ford Center in downtown Evansville.
“It’s heartbreaking. We had a 10-point lead going into the [final round] and we only went 1 for 6. You are not going to do a whole lot going 1 for 6,” Floyd Central coach Brandon Sisson said. “We knew the points were going to be spread out and they were. That’s how it goes.
“Going into it, everybody knew that Madison had a pretty good shot. They wrestled well.”
The lone Highlander to pick up a victory in the finals and take home an individual regional championship was Austin Ward. The senior claimed the 132-pound title by downing Madison junior Trenton Dempler in the final with a 13-10 decision. It was Ward’s first regional championship.
“I thought I wrestled pretty good. Overall, it was just a really good day,” Ward said.
Sisson praised the title effort by his senior.
“Austin had a really good day. He wrestled well all day long,” Sisson said. “He had two pins and almost a major decision in the final. Hopefully, he sets himself up nicely for next week.”
Three other Floyd Central wrestlers suffered losses in their title bouts. Highlander freshman Jarrod Cunningham lost in the 113-pound final to Brown County senior Austin Ely by a 2-1 decision. Floyd senior Cory Troutman settled for second in getting pinned by Columbus North senior Andrew Jones at the 1:52 mark in the 152-pound championship bout. Senior Chase Herron settled for a runner-up finish after falling by a 1-0 decision to Columbus East senior Jimmy Fisher in the 170-pound final.
Floyd Central sophomore Sean Brown (120) and senior teammate Lance Youtsey (182) each placed fourth to qualify for semistate.
“Some of the best champions are people that know how to lose and come back from losses,” Sisson said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that are capable of doing well next weekend, and they just have to be able to stick it out.”
New Washington had another productive day in the 2014 postseason. One week after having a school-record three champions at the Jeff Sectional, the Mustangs wound up sixth at regional with 56 points. New Wash was the second-highest team in the final standings among squads in the News and Tribune coverage area.
It was a great day for Noah Franklin. The Mustangs’ freshman took home a regional championship in his first try by defeating Corydon Central sophomore Mason Kaufer in the 106-pound final by a 9-4 decision.
“That’s something great for him and his family,” New Washington coach Jeremy Campbell said.
Franklin’s older brother, Jacob Franklin, was not as fortunate on Saturday. The New Washington senior came up short of repeating as the 160-pound regional champ as he lost in the final to Madison’s undefeated 160-pounder Jordan Partee by an 8-6 decision. All three of Jacob Franklin’s losses this season have been to Partee.
Two other Mustang grapplers earned semistate berths in senior Yancey Crase (138) and sophomore James Wise (132).
Crase finished second after losing his 138-pound title bout to Jennings County sophomore Ethan Herrin by an 11-0 major decision. Wise ended up fourth.
“I’m proud of my kids. We got four in the semistate, and that’s something we’ve never done before. We look forward to everybody being in Evansville next weekend,” Campbell said.
Jeff had some good news and some bad news on Saturday in placing eighth with 52 points.
The good news for the Red Devils was they had a pair of regional champions. Jeff senior Gavan Jolley-Little (285) captured his second consecutive regional title after winning a hard-fought overtime final over Scottsburg junior Kolby Mount by a 2-1 decision. It was Mount’s first loss of the season.
“I got the outcome that I wanted in a win, but I wish I could’ve gotten the pin and got it over faster. But a win is a win,” Jolley-Little said. “I just stuck to the stuff I know and was smart on the top and bottom.”
The Red Devils had one of the biggest surprise victories of the regional. In the 126-pound final, Jeff senior Jo Jo Deleon pinned Charlestown junior and Jeff Sectional champion Bryant Haynes at the 3:40 mark. Deleon avenged his 11-6 loss by decision to Haynes in the sectional title bout.
“We were really surprised, but we believe in him,” Red Devils’ coach Danny Struck said about Deleon. “It was definitely an upset. Before the semifinal, we said to him, ‘Hey, you are not supposed to win this. You just keep swinging.’ He started the first period up 5-0 and he was able to hang on. We said the same thing to him before the final.”
The bad news for Jeff was it had only three semistate qualifiers after having six a year ago. Red Devil junior Stevie Jones will join Jolley-Little and Deleon in Evansville as he placed third at 113 pounds.
“We were real disappointed that we didn’t get five. That was the goal,” Struck said. “I’m disappointed about the day, but I’m excited about [the future].”
Charlestown wound up ninth with 47 points as it has four wrestlers going to semistate.
Haynes was the highest-finishing Pirate. Charlestown sophomore Zach Higdon (170) and Pirates’ junior Josh Hurley (220) each placed third. Charlestown senior Luke Woods (113) wound up fourth.
New Albany placed 12th with 29 points with three Bulldogs advancing to semistate. New Albany junior Tre Lynch (152) finished third, while fellow Bulldog juniors Hunter Castleberry (145) and Patrick Landrum (220) each collected fourth-place finishes.
Junior Matt Hayes was the lone semistate qualifier for Providence, which placed 16th with 14 points. Hayes earned a runner-up finish, as he fell in the 182-pound final to Columbus North senior Luke Teague by a 17-4 major decision.
Eastern also had one semistate qualifier as senior Jordan Gray (106) placed third. The Musketeers finished 17th as a team with 11 points.
Christian Academy senior Daniel Doty had his season end as he got pinned by Columbus East senior Dalton Noblitt at the 1:51 mark in a 132-pound first-round match.
Corydon Central wound up seventh with 55 points. Junior Bailey LaHue was the Panthers’ top performer as he stayed undefeated. LaHue pinned all three of his regional opponents in claiming the 120-pound championship.
Along with Kaufer’s second-place finish, sophomore Ezra Paden (138) and freshman Austin Kopp (152) each finished fourth for Corydon.
At Johnson Arena
Team scores: Madison 86, Floyd Central 84, Greensburg 74, Jennings County 71, Columbus North 59, New Washington 56, Corydon Central 55, Jeffersonville 52, Charlestown 47, Brown County 46, Columbus East 41, New Albany 29, Seymour 20, Scottsburg 18, Southwestern 17, Providence 14, Eastern 11.
106: Noah Franklin (NW) dec. Mason Kaufer (CC), 9-4
113: Austin Ely (BC) dec. Jarrod Cunningham (FC), 2-1
120: Bailey LaHue (CC) pin Austin Walsh (BC), :26
126: Jo Jo Deleon (Jeff) pin Bryant Haynes (Ch), 3:40
132: Austin Ward (FC) dec. Trenton Dempler (M), 13-10
138: Ethan Herrin (JC) maj. dec. Yancey Crase (NW), 11-0
145: Matthew Ruddick (Se) pin Austin Spray (So), 5:42
152: Andrew Jones (CN) pin Cory Troutman (FC), 1:52
160: Jordan Partee (M) dec. Jacob Franklin (NW), 8-6
170: Jimmy Fisher (CE) dec. Chase Herron (FC), 1-0
182: Luke Teague (CN) maj. dec. Matt Hayes (P), 17-4
195: Mitchell Sandlin (M) dec. Christian Redmond (JC), 4-0
220: Colton Castetter (JC) pin Drew Neisius (G), 3:20
285: Gavan Jolley-Little (Jeff) dec. Kolby Mount (Sc) 2-1, OT
• CHARLESTOWN: Luke Woods (113), Bryant Haynes (126), Zach Higdon (170), Josh Hurley (220).
• EASTERN: Jordan Gray (106).
• FLOYD CENTRAL: Jarrod Cunningham (113), Sean Brown (120), Austin Ward (132), Cory Troutman (152), Chase Herron (170), Lance Youtsey (182).
• JEFFERSONVILLE: Stevie Jones (113), Jo Jo Deleon (126), Gavan Jolley-Little (285).
• NEW ALBANY: Hunter Castleberry (145), Tre Lynch (152), Patrick Landrum (220).
• NEW WASHINGTON: Noah Franklin (106), James Wise (132), Yancey Crase (138), Jacob Franklin (160).
• PROVIDENCE: Matt Hayes (182).