News and Tribune

High School Sports

February 8, 2011

HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING: Area wrestlers to face stiff challenges at semistate

Jeff taking 11 wrestlers to Evansville; Floyd bringing seven

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — When any athlete competes in the postseason, he or she encounters tougher competition the further they advance in the state tournament.

Wrestling is no different.

Saturday at Roberts Stadium in Evansville, several high school wrestlers from the Clark-Floyd area will face some of the most formidable competition they have faced all season at the Evansville Reitz Semistate.

The field in each semistate weight class includes wrestlers from some of the top teams in Indiana like Evansville Mater Dei, Evansville Reitz, Bloomington South and Center Grove.

The Jeffersonville Red Devils have first-hand knowledge on how difficult it is to advance out of semistate. Despite the stiff challenges his grapplers face Saturday, Jeff head coach Danny Struck says his team is peaking at the right time.

“Last year, we took nine to semistate and got two through. We had a year where we got 10 to semistate and one got through,” Struck said. “But I think one difference this year for our kids is that they are all starting to get comfortable at semistate. I have never had a group of kids that are all peaking at the right time, and all in such good spirits going into semistate.”

The top four finishers in each weight division Saturday will qualify for the IHSAA State Finals, which will be Feb. 18-19 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The Red Devils will take a school-record 11 wrestlers to Evansville Saturday. Leading Jeff will be junior Alonzo Shepherd, who will attempt to qualify for his third state finals.

Struck says Shepherd (44-1) has a favorable draw entering the 112-pound division at semistate. Shepherd will face Cloverdale senior Shawn Shipp (26-5) in the first round.

“Alonzo has a goal before graduating of (winning) a state title,” said Struck, who also thinks Shepherd’s drill partner at Jeff, senior Kevim Castro (36-9), got a good draw as well at 125.

Struck says another Red Devil who got a favorable draw is Jimmy Pratt (29-4). The 215-pound senior will be making his second trip to semistate, as he searches for his first state berth. Pratt’s opening-round opponent will be Wood Memorial senior Dillon Tepe (31-10).

“He got a good draw, his conditioning is finally where it needs to be since his Christmas break knee surgery, and we are excited about him,” Struck said.

One Jeff wrestler who faces a difficult draw is Renaldo Weekly (43-1) at 145. The senior, who is ranked fourth in the state at 145, will have a rematch with Mater Dei senior Sam Riggs (19-9) in the first round. Weekly edged Riggs by a 5-4 decision in last Wednesday’s Southridge Team Regional.

If Weekly gets past Riggs, he will most likely square off against Bloomington South senior Ben Farmer (18-3) in the quarterfinals. Weekly has defeated Farmer twice this season, but both matches were close.

Jeff’s other semistate qualifiers are Oscar DeLeon (21-24) at 119, Michael Vasquez (31-17) at 135, Tre Harbin (40-7) at 140, Brent Browner (36-12) at 152, Brandon Marlin (32-15) at 160, Elijah Curtley (28-3) at 189 and Ryan DeWitt (37-8) at 285.

Struck thinks the Red Devils’ regular-season schedule should get them ready for the semistate.

“There were times when kids on our team hated that they had more losses than kids they were beating,” Struck said. “But due to the strength of our schedule, even kids with more losses than wins on their record make it to semistate. Our schedule prepares kids to win when the time is right, and we hope this weekend will again prove that to them.”

Floyd Central’s best hope to qualify for state is 103-pound wrestler Terrence Kennedy (31-5). The sophomore will open the semistate against Sullivan junior Joseph Gilham (28-7). If Kennedy intends to win a semistate championship, he will probably have to face undefeated Bloomington South senior Jacob Boomsma (40-0) in the semifinals.

Six other Highlanders will join Kennedy at semistate. They are Chris Whitley (27-11) at 112, Zach Thomas (4-3) at 125, George Emily (24-12) at 135, Chase Herron (26-14) at 145, Shane Sneed (22-13) at 171 and Andrew Sharp (28-12) at 285.

Shortly after last Saturday’s Jeff Individual Regional, Floyd Central head coach Brandon Sisson said the draws would give him a better indication of each of his wrestlers’ chances of advancing to state.

“Right now, it’s kind of out in the open,” Sisson said. “We’ll know more when we find out who’s wrestling who.”

New Albany will be taking four grapplers to Evansville. That group includes Austin Jamison (22-6) at 119, C.J. Reynolds (24-7) at 152, Zach Faith (28-8) at 189 and Jacob Mudd (11-4) at 285.

Charlestown’s three semistate representatives are Cory Suddeth (28-11) at 152, Jacob Hall (33-8) at 160 and Ethan Bowen (35-6) at 171. Hall and Bowen each finished second at last weekend’s regional.

Christian Academy of Indiana and New Washington will each have two wrestlers at semistate. Wrestling for the Warriors will be freshman Daniel Doty (25-14) at 103 and senior Cory Neel (28-9) at 130. The Mustang representatives are sophomore Brady Meenach (24-5) at 125 and freshman Jacob Franklin (26-16) at 160.

Providence junior Brennan Gregory (29-12) will compete at 130. Gregory will have a tough first-round matchup, as he will square off against unbeaten Danville sophomore Neal Molloy (42-0).


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