By JON REITER
The Floyd Central Highlanders won the 19-team Jeffersonville Wrestling Regional on Saturday and will send nine athletes to the Evansville Semi-State on Saturday morning.
The regional championship is Floyd’s 12th overall and its first since 2007-08.
Capturing regional crowns for the Highlanders were Terrance Kennedy (106 pounds), who remains undefeated on the season with a 36-0 mark; Cory Troutman (138) and Nick Ottersbach (220). Sean Brown (113), Chris Whitley (120), Austin Ward (126), John Meldrum (152), Chase Herron (160) and Ian Bagwell (170) all finished inside the top-4 in regional and punched a ticket to Evansville by doing so.
The nine Highlander semi-state qualifiers ties a school record, and coach Brandon Sisson said he was pleased with the performance from his squad.
“We thought we could have done a little bit better, but really, it’s not bad,” Sisson said. “We’d have been happier if we could take 11 or 12, but we competed well.”
Kennedy — a junior — dominated his championship matchup against Columbus North’s Evan Speaker, out-pointing him in virtually every way possible en route to a 20-4 win.
“I have to train, control my weight, and work hard this week like I do every other week,” Kennedy said. “Next week’s going to be tough and I just have to be prepared.”
Jeffersonville’s squad, which finished 4th in overall points, will have six athletes in Saturday’s semi-state, including Jasi Coureur (112) and Gavan Jolley-Little (heavyweight), who won regional crowns.
They’ll be joined by Oscar DeLeon (132), David Fridley (160), Daniel Thompson (170) and Brandon Spangler (182), who all earned trips to Evansville by finishing inside the top-4.
“Nine [qualifying for semi-state] would have been an absolutely phenonenal day, but six is good,” Jeffersonville coach Danny Struck said. “It’s great that we have two underclassmen [Spangler and Jolley-Little are juniors] that can go and represent us and look towards the future.”
Struck also credited the performance of Coureur, who broke his hand last year and was unable to wrestle but rebounded in a big way this season.
“He’s just an extremely positive young man and I couldn’t be happier for him,” Struck said.
Jolley-Little outlasted Columbus East’s Rob McKee in an interesting tactical battle in which the Red Devil grappler was giving up more than a few inches and pounds. But Jolley-Little managed to work that to his advantage in gaining the 2-1 win.
“In a heavyweight match, if there’s one guy backing up there’s going to be stalling calls and I didn’t want to do that,” Jolley-Little said. “I just tried to work basic, simple, high-percentage moves.”
New Washington, which was one of the smaller teams participating in the regional, saw two of its wrestlers advance.
Jacob Franklin won the 160-pound weight class with a 4-3 win over Floyd Central’s Herron, and Brady Meenach lost in his 138-pound championship match against Troutman.
Franklin is New Washington’s first regional champion since 2009. He said he was happy to get the opportunity to continue to compete, and doesn’t view his status as a small school competitor as making him an underdog.
“I’m very confident that I can go out there and win matches,” he said. “Going towards next week, I like my chances very well.”
New Albany finished sixth in the team standings and has five competitors traveling to Evansville: Austin Jamison, who won the 126-pound weight class with a 5-0 decision over Columbus East’s Dalton Noblitt, Bryce Peavler (120), Ben Castleberry (145), Ethan Lee (170) and James Searcy (heavyweight).
Other wrestlers who will travel to the semistate after finishing in the top 4 are Luke Woods of Charlestown and Matthew Hayes of Providence. Woods finished third at 106 pounds and Hayes was third at 182.