By KEVIN HARRIS
It has not been an easy season for the Floyd Central wrestling team.
The Highlanders had to replace nine starters from last year’s stellar squad and dealt with some injuries that altered their lineup.
But on Saturday after winning the Jeffersonville Sectional championship for the second year in a row, Floyd Central felt a serious sense of accomplishment in battling through all that adversity.
The Highlanders edged the second-place Red Devils by nine points, scoring 233 1/2 points. It was Floyd Central’s 26th sectional title in program history and the first time it has won back-to-back championships since it won 10 straight from 1997-2006. The top four wrestlers in each weight class advanced to next Saturday’s Jeff Regional.
“It definitely feels great,” Floyd Central coach Brandon Sisson said. “With everything we had go on, we’ve talked to the kids about dealing with adversity. We’ve had the weather [postponements] going on this year. We graduated nine starters last year and 12 seniors overall. We had two starters go down within six days of each other. I couldn’t be more proud of the team. They’ve had to deal with a lot.”
Floyd Central had four individual sectional champions in Jarrod Cunningham (113 pounds), Austin Ward (132), Cory Troutman (152) and Chase Herron (170). The Highlanders now have 175 individual sectional championships in program history.
Sisson was proud of the way his four champions acquired bonus points, which were rewarded for pins, technical falls and major decisions, in helping them knock off Jeff. The Red Devils accumulated 224 1/2 points.
“Those guys came through big for us,” Sisson said. “It was a tight team race all day. They responded really well in that last round. Austin Ward got bonus points. Cory Troutman got bonus points. Chase Herron came through and got bonus points. That’s about six or seven points right there and that definitely makes a difference.”
Ward got the most historical title. The senior became the 100th Floyd Central grappler to win a sectional championship, as he pinned New Albany senior Bryce Peavler at the 2:30 mark of the 132-pound final.
Cunningham, a freshman, won his first sectional title by prevailing in the 113-pound title bout over Jeff junior Stevie Jones by an 8-3 decision.
Troutman won his third sectional championship in his career and his first at 152 after pinning New Albany’s Tre Lynch in the final at the 1:08 mark. Herron claimed his second sectional title as he won the 170-pound title bout over Charlestown’s Zach Higdon by an 11-3 major decision.
All in all, Floyd Central had 12 wrestlers qualify for regional. Sean Brown (120) and Nick Burkland (145) each finished second. Earning third-place finishes were John Strobel (160), Lance Youtsey (182) and Karl Hauser (195). Wayne Nicholas (126), Max Hauser (138) and Tobin Smith (220) each placed fourth. Sisson praised Burkland and Nicholas making it out of sectional while filling in for injured starters Tyler Crowl and Brayden Hoke.
Two Jeff wrestlers won sectional championships in senior Gavan Jolley-Little (285) and sophomore Darion Newbolt (195). Jolley-Little, an Indiana University signee, made quick work of Charlestown sophomore Christian Davenport in the heavyweight final with a pin at the 1:22 mark. It was Jolley-Little’s third consecutive sectional title.
Newbolt, who has wrestled junior varsity for most of the season, defeated New Albany freshman Dalton Mowery in the 195-pound title bout by an 8-4 decision. It was Newbolt’s first sectional championship in his career.
“Gavan, that’s his third one and that’s what we expect from him. He has goals way past [sectional], so it’s expected,” Jeff coach Danny Struck said. “Darion Newbolt was awesome and he’s only a sophomore.”
Like the Highlanders, the Red Devils had 12 wrestlers advance to regional. Three Jeff wrestlers earned runner-up finishes in Jones (113), Jo Jo Deleon (126) and Chase Thompson (182). Placing third were Taivon Lucas (120), Josh Sauer (138) and Geary Gaines (220). Jeff’s fourth-place finishers were Freddie Hudson (145), Donovan Smith (152), Devyn Long (160) and Kevin Cain (170).
Changes to the starting lineup by the Red Devils helped them give Floyd Central a run for its money.
“It got us a lot closer. I don’t think we would’ve been top three if we didn’t change,” Struck said. “Every kid went up a seed once the changes happened. We had three or four kids place above their seeds. It just came down to bonus points and Floyd did a good job of getting those.”
New Albany placed third with 190 points, as the Bulldogs qualified nine grapplers for regional. Junior Hunter Castleberry was New Albany’s lone sectional champion as he knocked off Burkland in the 145-pound final by a 10-4 decision. Saturday’s sectional title was Castleberry’s second in a row.
Joining Peavler, Lynch and Mowery as second-place finishers for the Bulldogs were D Frederick (160) and Patrick Landrum (220). New Albany’s Romarro Bradford (126) and David Harrison (170) each placed third, and teammate Dakota Erickson (106) was fourth.
“Overall, Hunter wrestled really well today. He did a good job,” Bulldogs’ coach Eric Burres said. “The name of the game at this point is advance to next week. Overall as a team, our kids wrestled really hard. They wrestled with a lot of heart and I was really pleased with how we performed today.”
Charlestown ended up fourth with 146 1/2 points and two individual sectional titles. Juniors Bryant Haynes (126) and Josh Hurley (220) each captured their first sectional crowns. Haynes won his title bout against Deleon with an 11-6 decision. Hurley, who did not wrestle his first two years of high school, pinned Landrum in 38 seconds in the 220-pound final.
“Haynes had a pretty good game plan. He did what he did in practice all week. He has some big goals for this year and this is the first step,” Charlestown coach Adam Doherty said. “Hurley looked great. He’s a strong kid and he worked hard. He’s very tough to stop.”
Higdon and Davenport were the only Pirates to earn runner-up finishes. Charlestown senior Luke Woods (113) placed third.
It was a historic day for the New Washington Mustangs, who placed fifth with 124 points.
For the first time in program history, New Washington had three sectional champions in one year. Freshman Noah Franklin beat Corydon Central’s Mason Kaufer in the 106-pound final by an 8-4 decision. Senior Yancey Crase pinned the Panthers’ Ezra Paden at the 3:15 mark in the 138-pound title bout. In the 160-pound final, senior Jacob Franklin needed 1 minute and 41 seconds to pin Frederick.
“I’m just absolutely ecstatic,” New Washington coach Jeremy Campbell said about his trio of champions. “They’ve worked extremely hard all season — they really have. They beat up each other in practice because they knew they were going to face tough competition.”
Two other Mustangs qualified for regional. Sophomore Jimmy Wise (132) was third, and junior Mathew Mosley (120) placed fourth.
Eastern had five wrestlers earn regional berths to place seventh with 90 1/2 points. The Musketeers’ Jordan Gray (106) and Brayton Brading (145) each finished third. Teammates Robbie Stein (113), Caleb Donoho (182) and Nick Lanham (195) each placed fourth.
Providence junior Matt Hayes repeated as the 182-pound sectional champion. He held off Thompson in their title bout with a 5-2 decision. Pioneer senior Blake Logsdon (285) will join Hayes at regional as he earned a third-place finish. Providence wound up eighth with 89 points.
Christian Academy had one regional qualifier as it placed ninth with 12 points. Senior Daniel Doty finished fourth at 132 pounds.
At Johnson Arena
Team scores: Floyd Central 233 1/2, Jeffersonville 224 1/2, New Albany 190, Charlestown 146 1/2, New Washington 124, Corydon Central 115, Eastern 90 1/2, Providence 89, Christian Academy 12.
106: Noah Franklin (NW) dec. Mason Kaufer (CC), 8-4.
113: Jarrod Cunningham (FC) dec. Stevie Jones (J), 8-3.
120: Bailey Lahue (CC) pin Sean Brown (FC), :52.
126: Bryant Haynes (Ch) dec. Jo Jo Deleon (J), 11-6.
132: Austin Ward (FC) pin Bryce Peavler (NA), 2:30.
138: Yancey Crase (NW) pin Ezra Paden (CC), 3:15.
145: Hunter Castleberry (NA) dec. Nick Burkland (FC), 10-4.
152: Cory Troutman (FC) pin Tre Lynch, 1:08.
160: Jacob Franklin (NW) pin D Frederick (NA), 1:41.
170: Chase Herron (FC) maj. dec. Zach Higdon (Ch), 11-3.
182: Matt Hayes (P) dec. Chase Thompson (J), 5-2.
195: Darion Newbolt (J) dec. Dalton Mowery (NA), 10-4.
220: Josh Hurley (Ch) pin Patrick Landrum (NA), :38.
285: Gavan Jolley-Little (J) pin Christian Davenport (Ch), 1:22.