On Saturday at Johnson Arena, 47 wrestlers from the Clark-Floyd area will try to take the next step toward each grappler’s ultimate goal in the Hoosier State — reaching the IHSAA State Finals.
Those wrestlers will be competing in this weekend’s Jeffersonville Regional. The top four grapplers in each weight class will advance to the Evansville Reitz Semi-state on Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Ford Center in Evansville.
Floyd Central, which won the Jeff Sectional for the first time since 2008 last Saturday, has the most wrestlers in the sectional among area teams with 13.
“Our goal is to qualify everyone on to semi-state,” Highlanders’ coach Brandon Sisson said. “If we can do that, then our chance of winning the regional will be pretty good.”
Leading Floyd Central is the only undefeated grappler in the regional in Terrance Kennedy. The senior enters the 106-pound weight class with a 33-0 record and captured his third career sectional championship last Saturday. Kennedy will face Jennings County’s Kyle Lewis in the first round of the regional.
Three other Highlanders have high expectations heading into the regional in seniors John Meldrum (152 pounds) and Nick Ottersbach (220) and junior Chase Herron (160). All three of them have at least 30 victories this season. Meldrum has a 31-7 record, Ottersbach is 33-3 and Herron sports a 30-5 mark, and all three of them won sectional titles last weekend.
Floyd Central’s other regional participants are Sean Brown (113), Chris Whitley (120), Austin Ward (126), Kolton Popp (132), Cory Troutman (138), George Emily (145), Ian Bagwell (170), Brennan Banet (195) and Franklin Korte (285). Troutman and Banet each collected sectional crowns last Saturday.
Sisson thinks this weekend is a critical one for his troops if each of them want to make a deep run in the postseason.
“It is important to wrestle well this weekend because it helps set them up for the semi-state and to make a run at the state finals in Indianapolis,” Sisson said. “I believe we can have anywhere from four to eight regional champions. It really depends how the guys come out and wrestle.”
The host Red Devils will have 11 grapplers competing at regional. Two Jeff wrestlers will attempt to keep their momentum after each claimed a sectional title last weekend in senior Jasi Coureur (113) and junior Gavan Jolley-Little (285).
Coureur enters the regional with a 37-7 record. He missed last year’s postseason after breaking his hand a few days before the 2012 sectional. After last week’s sectional, Coureur says he has been drinking more milk lately to strengthen his bones and reduce the chances of fracturing another bone.
“Jasi Coureur is motivated. He is still drinking his milk and coming in before school with Gavan,” Jeff coach Danny Struck said. “Jasi really feels like he missed out on something special when he broke his hand last year, and he is trying to savor every moment this season to get to where he wants to be.”
Jolley-Little owns a 41-4 record in the heavyweight ranks this season. He faces possible rematches from the Hoosier Hills Conference meet on Saturday with Seymour senior Adam Wolka and Columbus East senior Rob McKee. Jolley-Little will try to redeem himself at regional after losing in the first round last season.
“He has high goals of being the regional champ and beyond this year,” Struck said. “He has to beat [Wolka] and [McKee], who both beat him last year. But he has beat them at HHC this year, so it will be some big rematches for him this weekend. He is practicing hard, coming in before school and doing the extra [work] to make things happen.”
Other Jeff wrestlers in the regional are Stevie Jones (106), Xavier Weekley (126), Oscar Deleon (132), Nick Stewart (138), Tyler Fridley (152), David Fridley (160), Daniel Thompson (170), Brandon Spangler (182) and Gary Gaines (220).
“We expect to push ourselves through tough competition,“ Struck said. “We always set the goal to get the maximum number of kids through. So a perfect day is 11-of-11, a really good day is 9-of-11, and we would say a so-so day is five. We expect to see a good representation of what the kids have worked hard on all year.”
New Albany has 10 grapplers in the regional, led by Austin Jamison. The senior will vie to repeat as the 126-pound regional champion as he has a 35-4 record. He won his second sectional title last weekend.
Jamison will be joined by two other Bulldog sectional champions at regional in Hunter Castleberry (145) and Ethan Lee (170).
Also competing for New Albany at the regional are Damon Dillon (113), Bryce Peavler (120), Tre Lynch (132), Hunter Langley (152), David Harrison (182), Nick Lynch (195) and James Searcy (285).
Charlestown will have six grapplers wrestling on Saturday. They are Luke Woods (106), Bryant Haynes (120), Cameron Stuart (138), Zach Higdon (160), Zach Green (195) and Dakota Stevenson (285).
Four New Washington wrestlers will be competing at regional in freshman James Wise (126), senior Brady Meenach (138) and juniors Yancey Crase (145) and Jacob Franklin (160).
Representing Providence at regional will be Brett Kempf (145), Matthew Hayes (182) and Robbie Logsdon (220). Hayes won his first sectional title last Saturday.
Eastern has four wrestlers participating at regional in Jordan Gray (113), Brayton Brading (152), Luke Terry (170) and Brian Arnold (220).