By KEVIN HARRIS
Throughout the course of the 2012-13 high school wrestling season, Floyd Central has been tabbed as the favorite to win this year’s Jeffersonville Sectional.
On Saturday at Johnson Arena, the Highlanders will get their chance to live up to their billing. The sectional will start at 9 a.m. with the finals expected to begin at about 1:30 p.m. The top four finishers in each weight class will qualify for the Jeff Regional on Saturday, Feb. 2.
Out of its 14 wrestlers, Floyd Central has 13 grapplers seeded either first or second as it is projected to win the sectional with 193 points. If the Highlanders claim the sectional championship, it will be their first title since 2008 and their 25th overall.
“If we reclaim the sectional title, I believe it shows that the Floyd Central program is moving in the right direction,” said Highlanders’ coach Brandon Sisson, who is vying for his first sectional crown as Floyd Central’s boss. “The team has had a great week of practice so far. None of the guys on the team have a team sectional title, and it’s something they would like to bring back to Floyd Central.”
Floyd Central has eight No. 1 seeds. Leading the Highlanders’ top seeds is 106-pound senior Terrence Kennedy, who enters the sectional with a perfect 30-0 record.
Floyd Central’s other top seeds are seniors Tre Marler (132 pounds), George Emily (145), John Meldrum (152), Ian Bagwell (170), Jackson Randall (182) and Nick Ottersbach (220) and junior Chase Herron (160).
The Highlanders’ five No. 2 seeds are Sean Brown (113), Chris Whitley (120), Austin Ward (126), Cory Troutman (138) and Brennan Banet (195). Floyd Central heavyweight Franklin Korte is a five seed.
Sisson expects a formidable sectional field on Saturday. One potential matchup Sisson is keeping an eye on is at 120 pounds, where Whitley could have a rematch with Corydon Central sophomore standout Bailey LaHue.
At last year’s sectional, Whitley defeated LaHue in the 113-pound final by a 3-2 decision. But the following week at the Jeff Regional, LaHue avenged his loss to Whitley in the 113-pound title bout by an 8-1 decision.
“Though we are favored by the seeds, none of these teams are going to lay down,” Sisson said. “There will be numerous great matches throughout the day. If Whitley and LaHue make the finals, it could be a rematch of last year’s sectional and regional. Cory Troutman has potentially a tough match against Brady Meenach from New Washington [at 138 pounds].”
Even though the Highlanders are the sectional favorites, four-time defending sectional champion Jeff plans on not conceding the sectional title to its Hoosier Hills Conference rival.
The seeding projections have the Red Devils placing second with 118 points. But Jeff has been in a similar position before and found a way to collect the sectional championship trophy.
“Last year, we were seeded third and we won it. Six years ago, we were seeded third and we won it. We have experience with that,” Red Devils’ coach Danny Struck said. “Floyd is the overwhelming favorite. They have eight No. 1 seeds and five No. 2 seeds, and that’s going to be tough to beat.”
Jeff has two one seeds in senior Jasi Coureur (113) and junior Gavan Jolley-Little (285). Coureur did not participate in last year’s sectional because he suffered a broken hand a few days before the tournament. Jolley-Little’s four losses this season have been to wrestlers who are ranked in the top 10 in Indiana.
“[Jolley-Little] has as good of a shot as any heavyweight to go to state,” Struck said. “[Coureur] has got a shot to get out of regional.”
The Red Devils’ No. 2 seeds are Stevie Jones (106), Oscar DeLeon (132) and Tyler Fridley (152), while teammates David Fridley (160) and Geary Gaines (220) are three seeds. Jeff’s No. 4 seeds are Daniel Thompson (170) and Brandon Spangler (182).
Even though the Red Devils want to repeat as sectional champs, Struck says his team’s main goal is to get all 14 of his wrestlers to advance to regional.
“There is more pressure to get 14 to regional. It would be nice to have all 14 go to regional,” Struck said.
Charlestown, which won its eighth straight Mid-Southern Conference title last weekend, is projected to finish third. Pirates’ coach Adam Doherty thinks a third-place finish would be a big accomplishment for his team.
“That would be great,” Doherty said. “Floyd has an unbelievable team this year and Jeff beat us in a dual meet. We just want to get as many to the next round.”
Charlestown has no No. 1 seeds and one No. 2 seed in senior Seth McCutchen (182). The Pirates have three No. 3 seeds in Bryant Haynes (120), Luke Woods (106) and Zach Green (195). Charlestown’s Cameron Stuart (138) and Artemio Gomez (126) are seeded fourth.
“I’d like to see Luke do well. Bryant has a hard weight class, but I’d like to see him do well,” said Doherty, who mentions he wants to see his seniors each go out on a high note in their final sectional.
The projections have New Albany finishing fourth with two No. 1 seeds. Senior Austin Jamison is the top seed at 126 pounds, while fellow senior Nick Lynch is seeded first at 195.
The Bulldogs have a pair of No. 2 seeds in sophomore Hunter Castleberry (145) and senior James Searcy (285), while New Albany’s three seeds are Tre Lynch (132) and Ethan Lee (170). Bulldog junior Bryce Peavler (120) is a four seed.
“I think we have a chance to advance around 11 kids to next weekend’s regional tournament. But our kids still have to show up and deliver,” Bulldogs’ coach Eric Burres said. “I expect our kids to compete and wrestle to their capability. The sectionals are what we work towards all year. It is an exciting time.”
New Washington is projected to finish sixth. Meenach, a senior, is the No. 1 seed at 138 pounds, while Mustang junior Jacob Franklin (160) is seeded second. Also for New Washington, freshman James Wise (126) is a three seed and junior Yancey Crase (145) is seeded fourth.
The seeds have Providence placing eighth. Pioneer sophomores Brett Kempf (145) and Matthew Hayes (182) are each seeded third, while Providence junior Robbie Logsdon (220) is a No. 4 seed.
Christian Academy has only two wrestlers seeded in the top six. Warrior junior Trey Sturdy (138) is a No. 3 seed, while fellow junior Daniel Doty (126) is seeded sixth.
JEFF SECTIONAL TOP SEEDS
• 106: Terrence Kennedy, Floyd Central, 30-0
• 113: Jasi Coureur, Jeffersonville, 34-7
• 120: Bailey LaHue, Corydon Central, 28-2
• 126: Austin Jamison, New Albany, 32-4
• 132: Tre Marler, Floyd Central, 13-3
• 138: Brady Meenach, New Washington, 36-3
• 145: George Emily, Floyd Central, 20-6
• 152: John Meldrum, Floyd Central, 28-7
• 160: Chase Herron, Floyd Central, 26-5
• 170: Ian Bagwell, Floyd Central, 25-9
• 182: Jackson Randall, Floyd Central, 22-4
• 195: Nick Lynch, New Albany, 21-10
• 220: Nick Ottersbach, Floyd Central, 30-3
• 285: Gavan Jolley-Little, Jeffersonville, 38-4