By KEVIN HARRIS
This weekend, four area wrestling teams — Charlestown, Jeffersonville, New Albany and New Washington — will use the Jeff Classic for one purpose.
That purpose is to use the 36th annual wrestling tournament as a measuring stick to see how much progress they have made during the 2012-13 season.
“There is a wide range of kids at the Jeff Classic,” Red Devil coach Danny Struck said. “It really shows you where we are at this season.”
New Washington coach Jeremy Campbell says his wrestlers always look forward to the Jeff Classic to give them an idea what they need to work on before the Southern Indiana Wrestling Conference meet and the Jeff Sectional later this season.
“We enjoy this meet every year because it gives our boys a chance to see a wide range of good talent from across the state,” Campbell said. “It serves as a benchmark of what steps they need to take personally and physically in order to be competitive at higher levels.”
The field includes perennial powers like Bloomington South, Jennings County, Muncie South and Louisville St. Xavier along with Southern Indiana squads Paoli, Madison, Southwestern, South Dearborn, Franklin County and Gibson Southern.
New Albany coach Eric Burres says the Jeff Classic will give his wrestlers a chance to see how they stack up against possible future opponents.
“This is a very tough tournament,” Burres said. “It’s a good measuring stick. They could possibly see a lot of these guys in the semi-state. It will let us know where we are at right now.”
Based on the tournament seedings, Jeff is projected to finish fifth as a team. The seedings have Bloomington South winning the Jeff Classic, followed by Jennings County, Muncie South and St. Xavier.
Senior Jasi Coureur is Jeff’s lone No. 1 seed at 113 pounds. Red Devil heavyweight Gavan Jolley-Little is a No. 2 seed, while Jeff sophomore Stevie Jones is seeded third at 106 pounds. Jeff senior Oscar DeLeon is the No. 4 seed at 132.
“I think some of our kids will rise above their seeds,” Struck said.
Charlestown is projected to place sixth. Senior Seth McCutchen is the highest-seeded Pirate as a No. 2 seed at 182 pounds.
Teammates Octavio Gomez (113) and Bryant Haynes (120) are each seeded third. Also for Charlestown, Artemio Gomez (132), Cameron Stuart (138) and Zach Green (195) all are No. 6 seeds and Cameron Heil (152) is seeded eighth.
Pirates’ coach Adam Doherty also is looking for Luke Woods at 106 to have a good weekend at Jeff.
“Bryant Haynes and Seth McCutchen have the highest seeds and are probably the best shot at a Pirate taking first place,” Doherty said. “Cameron Stuart, Luke Woods, Octavio Gomez, Artemio Gomez and Zach Green have been wrestling really well lately and could place high this weekend.”
The seedings have New Albany finishing eighth. Bulldogs’ senior Austin Jamison is seeded first at 126, while Bryce Peavler is a No. 4 seed at 120.
“Obviously, it’s a big tournament for us,” Burres said. “We look for [Jamison] to win. We’ve got a couple other seeded wrestlers that we want to do well.”
New Washington senior Brady Meenach is the top seed at 138. Mustang junior Yancey Crase is seeded third at 145, while teammate Jacob Franklin is a No. 4 seed at 160.
“We expect Brady Meenach, Yancey Crase and Jacob Franklin to place as they have all competed in large tournaments in their time wrestling, and all enjoy tough competition,” Campbell said. “It will come down to being able to focus on our game plan in matches, as to whether or not we can push the rest of the team into placing at the tournament.”
The Jeff Classic will start on Friday at 6 p.m. with opening-round matches. Saturday’s action will begin at 8:30 a.m.
FC TO HOLD DUALS INVITE SATURDAY
Floyd Central will host its own duals invitational on Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. Other teams participating in the invitational are Corydon Central, Vincennes Lincoln, South Oldham (Ky.), Oldham County (Ky.) and Seymour.
Highlanders’ coach Brandon Sisson expects his team to persevere following a solid 4-1 performance at the Triacoff Invitational last weekend at Calumet High School in Northern Indiana.
“We should do really well,” Sisson said. “Oldham County is ranked in Kentucky and has been tough the last few years. We should go 5-0 coming off a really good weekend.”
Sisson’s main concern going into the Floyd Central Invitational is which weight class Corydon standout Bailey LaHue will compete in. If LaHue wrestles at 120 pounds, he will face the Highlanders’ Chris Whitley. Whitley defeated LaHue in the 113-pound final at the Jeff Sectional last year, but LaHue avenged the loss a week later in the 113-pound title bout at the Jeff Regional.
If the Panther star competes at 126, he will take on Floyd Central’s Austin Ward.
NEWS AND NOTES
• Pirates win MSC Duals again: Charlestown won the Mid-Southern Conference Duals for the ninth year in a row last Saturday. The Pirates defeated conference foes Scottsburg, Corydon, Eastern and Salem along with nonconference participant New Albany.
Haynes, McCutchen, Heil, Green and Octavio Gomez each posted undefeated records for Charlestown. Stuart, Artemio Gomez and Zach Higdon each went 4-1.
The Bulldogs posted a 4-1 record with their lone loss coming against the Pirates. New Albany’s Tre Lynch (132) and Hunter Castleberry (138) each were 5-0, while Jamison (126) and Peavler both went 4-1.
• Pioneers end up ninth at Memorial: Providence placed ninth at the Evansville Memorial Tournament last Saturday.
Sophomore Brett Kempf was the Pioneers’ lone champion. He posted a 3-0 record to win the 152-pound division. Fellow Providence sophomores Jason Murner and Matthew Hayes each finished fifth, posting 2-2 records.
• Kennedy goes undefeated at Triacoff Invite: Senior Terrence Kennedy was the only Floyd Central wrestler to go 5-0 at last Saturday’s Triacoff Invitational.
Going 4-1 for the Highlanders were Whitley, Ward, Chase Herron and Jackson Randall. Teammates John Meldrum, Nick Ottersbach and Ian Bagwell each went 3-2, while Floyd Central’s Brennan Banet was 2-1.
The Highlanders’ dual victories were against Lawrence North, Mishawaka, Valparaiso and Indianapolis Cathedral. Mishawaka and Cathedral were ranked in the top 11 in the state entering the meet.
• Jeff posts 2-3 mark at Castle: Jeff went 2-3 at the Castle Invitational last Saturday. Struck reached a milestone in one of the two victories. The Red Devils’ coach recorded his 300th career win in a dual meet against Greencastle, which was where Struck started his coaching career.
Jolley-Little (285) was the only Jeff wrestler to post a 5-0 record. Coureur went 4-1 at 113.
• Struck to coach in Serbia: This weekend, Struck found out that he has been selected by USA Wrestling to be the Greco Roman coach for the Cadet World Championships in Series next August.
Struck was chosen from a nationwide pool of coaches. He will help prepare the team for a few weeks this coming summer at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
WRESTLER OF THE WEEK
Terrence Kennedy, Floyd Central
The senior was the only Highlander to go 5-0 at the ultra-competitive Triacoff Invitational last weekend at Calumet High School. Kennedy defeated wrestlers from three ranked teams — Crown Point, Indianapolis Cathedral and Mishawaka.
TEAM OF THE WEEK
The Pirates continued their Mid-Southern Conference dominance by winning the conference duals for the ninth consecutive season. Charlestown will try to win the MSC meet for the eighth year in a row in January.