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February 6, 2011

H.S. WRESTLING: Another record-setting day for Red Devils

Jeff has eight regional champions, 11 semistate qualifiers

JEFFERSONVILLE — Last Saturday, the Jeffersonville wrestling team had a record-setting day at the Jeff Sectional. The Red Devils won a school-record nine individual sectional championships to claim their third team sectional championship in a row, which had never been done in program history.

On Saturday in the Jeff Individual Regional at Johnson Arena, more records went down for the Red Devils.

Jeff had eight regional champions and 11 semistate qualifiers, both of which are school and Jeff Regional records. The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to next Saturday’s Evansville Reitz Semistate at Roberts Stadium.

The records are another indication how far the Red Devil wrestling program has come since head coach Danny Struck took over the program during the 2002-03 season.

“During my first couple of years here, I was just happy to have a sectional champion,” Struck said. “All of our seniors won a regional championship today, so that’s pretty exciting. I’m real excited and I’m excited about next year because three of our regional champs are coming back.”

Leading Jeff was Alonzo Shepherd, who collected his third consecutive regional title. The junior won the 112-pound final by defeating Floyd Central sophomore Chris Whitley with a 5-3 decision.

Red Devil seniors Renaldo Weekly and Jimmy Pratt each won their second straight regional title.

Each of their victories in the finals were by pin. In the 145 title bout, Weekly pinned Jasper’s Nick Ackerman at the 4:52 mark. Pratt sealed the 215 final by pinning Paoli’s C.J. Andry at the 2:19 mark. It was Pratt’s second consecutive regional crown at 215.

In the 125 title bout, Jeff senior Kevim Castro won his first regional crown by outlasting North Knox’s Cody Byrer with a 5-4 decision. Fellow Red Devil senior Tre Harbin defeated Washington’s Raulie Velazquez by a 17-5 major decision in the 140 final.

In the 160 final, Jeff junior Brandon Marlin upended Charlestown’s Jacob Hall by a 3-1 decision. Red Devil junior Elijah Curtley needed 52 seconds to pin New Albany senior Zach Faith to win the 189 title bout.

In the 285 final, Jeff senior Ryan DeWitt handed Mitchell’s Trevor Phillips his first loss of the season. DeWitt pinned Phillips at the 2:27 mark to win the regional crown.

The other three Red Devil wrestlers to receive semistate berths were Oscar DeLeon (119), Michael Vasquez (135) and Brent Browner (152).

Struck thinks some of his wrestlers’ previous experience at semistate should help them next weekend.

“It’s real big when you’ve been there before,” Struck said. “A lot of the first-year kids have the deer-in-the-headlight look. But five of our eight champions have been there before.”

Floyd Central had seven grapplers earn their tickets to semistate. The Highlanders’ top performer was sophomore Terrence Kennedy. He captured his first regional title by winning a 5-1 decision over Jasper’s Nathan Schitter in the 103 final.

Floyd Central head coach Brandon Sisson lauded Kennedy’s and Whitley’s performances.

“He is one kid who improved tremendously in the offseason. He has a great chance to go to state,” Sisson said about Kennedy. “Chris Whitley gave Alonzo a pretty good match. He is getting better every weekend.”

The Highlanders’ George Emily (135), Chase Herron (145) and Shane Sneed (171) each finished third. Placing fourth for Floyd were Zach Thomas (125) and Andrew Sharp (285).

“I think we wrestled pretty good,” Sisson said. “A couple of them could’ve won, but overall we did pretty good.”

Four New Albany wrestlers will go to Evansville next weekend. Faith and teammate Austin Jamison (119) each finished second, while the Bulldogs’ C.J. Reynolds (152) and Jacob Mudd (285) both placed third.

Jamison lost the 119 final to Pike Central senior Cody Kendle by an 11-6 decision.

Hall was one of two Charlestown grapplers to finish second. The Pirates’ other runner-up finisher was senior Ethan Bowen, who lost by a 3-1 decision to Jasper’s Joe Tucker in the 171 final. Charlestown junior Cory Suddeth placed fourth at 152.

Christian Academy of Indiana had two semistate qualifiers. Senior Cory Neel, who won the program’s first-ever sectional title last weekend, ended up third at 130. Warrior freshman Daniel Doty earned his first semistate berth by finishing fourth at 103.

New Washington’s Brady Meenach and Jacob Franklin each advanced to semistate. Meenach, a sophomore, placed third at 125. Franklin, a freshman, wound up fourth at 160.

Brennan Gregory, Providence’s lone regional representative, stayed alive in the postseason. The junior placed fourth at 130.

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