Frontier’s Tony Metzger was pleased, for the most part. One might think because the Class A Falcons advanced two of their three entrants in the Logansport Regional to the East Chicago Semi-State, Metzger would be much happier.
But the head coach had confidence in his wrestlers, so it makes sense he came away from the Logansport Sectional wanting more.
“It went alright, had an OK first round,” Metzger said of Frontier placing 11th with 22 points during the sectional. “I assumed we would get three through.”
Senior Jac Sproles saw his career end, falling in his 132-pound opening round match to Lafayette Central Catholic’s Andrew Kline.
Kline led 2-0 after one period and 6-2 after two before Sproles (28-4) clambered back. He pulled within 6-4, and later within 7-5 after each wrestler was awarded a penalty point. That’s how the score finished.
“Jac’s kid was pretty good,” Metzger said. “He wasn’t a slouch or anything, but he was a kid who was beatable. It was a good, competitive match.”
Classmate Branden Simmons (22-8) pushed his way into the regional championship at 113 pounds. First, the senior overcame a 3-2 deficit heading into the third period against LCC’s Alex Thomas by choosing the bottom position, earning a reversal and maneuvering into a pinfall with 55 seconds remaining in the match to earn a semi-state berth.
Next came a semifinal against South Newton’s Hayden Ramone. Ramone was a replacement for Winamac’s Tyler Tankersley, the Twin Lakes Sectional champion who bested Simmons in that championship. Tankersley was injured midweek and could not compete, moving each of the ensuing four seeds from the sectional up a spot.
Simmons led Ramone from start to finish, picking up a late takedown for a 2-0 lead after two minutes and adding more points from there. The score was 6-1 after two periods and finished 8-3 after a third-period reversal.
West Lafayette’s Alex Kellogg, the regional’s other No. 1 seed, waited in the finals. Kellogg took a 5-0 lead with a first-period takedown and nearfall, and Simmons was forced to play catch-up the rest of the match. It was 7-1 before a late reversal gave Simmons a couple more points for a 7-3 finish.
“Simmons had a good day, made it to the finals and almost pinned his kid (late),” Metzger said. “He wrestled really well all day.”
Wendling (25-4) led 2-1 after the first period, then added six more points against Lafayette Jefferson’s Durya Minor in the 138-pound first round. It was 8-2 after two periods, and Wendling held on for a 10-4 victory. After that, “Denny ran into a couple buzzsaws,” Metzger noted, in falling by pin in the semifinal and dropping a 10-2 major decision in the third-place match.
Neither Simmons nor Wendling previously reached semi-state.
“You can’t really change it up a bunch,” Metzger said of the semi-state. “You stick with what you’re good at. But at the same time you tinker a little.”
North White’s Ball advances to semi-state
Anthony Ball spent the latter half of his final season at 160 pounds, believing it would give him a better shot to reach the semi-state level.
It didn’t seem to matter Saturday.
Ball followed up a 170-pound sectional championship with a runner-up spot at the Logansport Regional. Ball (28-2) picked up an 11-0 major decision in the opening round to secure his semi-state spot, leading 5-0 after one period and scoring four in the final frame to topple Carroll’s Cergio Santiago.
He went off against West Lafayette’s Levi Buck, scoring eight second-period points and leading 12-0 before pinning Buck early in the third.
McCutcheon’s Spencer Phillips (35-1) picked up an early takedown and a pin halfway through the first period in the championship match.
“Anthony did what we thought — if he wrestled well, he could get himself in the finals,” interim head coach Kirk Quasebarth said. “He had a tough match against (Phillips), who is state-ranked and is a really good wrestler.”
Ball was the only Viking to win one match. Classmate Chantz Dillon (20-5) lost to West Lafayette’s Seth Chrisman, 5-1 in the 285-pound quarterfinal.
“Chantz had a tough match, and some of the things he likes to do he wasn’t able to do, and it put him in a hard place,” Quasebarth said.
Junior Richie Spears wrestled what Quasebarth joked was “a typical Spears match” against West Lafayette’s Travis Gregory, falling in a 19-9 major decision. It was 6-5 after one period, and Spears (20-11) thinned a 13-7 deficit to 13-9 before Gregory put on a late surge.
“I thought Richie wrestled really well, left it all out there,” Quasebarth said. “He wrestled a guy kinda like him — a lot of movement and energy, and a lot of back-and-forth.”
North White had a fourth entrant when the 145-pound bracket was shaken up. Pioneer’s Logan Smith came in overweight, and that result pushed Tri-County’s Luke Ulrich to the No. 3 seed. It also allowed Andrew Ball, Anthony’s younger brother, to enter the bracket. He was pinned 54 seconds into his match.
“It was nice having Andrew step in and get some experience in a regional as an alternate.” Quasebarth said. “That was a big plus for him, experience-wise.”
The elder Ball has one more week to his career, potentially, and will spend it with his brothers — the older Leevin and younger Andrew — helping him train.
“Friday will be a fine-tune day,” Quasebarth said. “Then he’ll go wrestle Saturday, with nothing to lose.”
Cavaliers’ Ulrich ends career
His knee felt better, which was good.
It was an opponent he hadn’t prepared for, which was — wasn’t good, but wasn’t bad for Ulrich (22-11).
“Luke moved up a seed and wrestled someone we hadn’t prepared for,” head coach James Wamsley said. “It was a 50-50 match into the second period. His knee was a lot better, he was healthier and prepared for any match.”
Ulrich lost, 12-0, to West Lafayette’s Keegan Adams.
Adams led 2-0 after one period, then collected five more in the second and five in the third for a major decision. Ulrich ends as Tri-County’s first four-year letterwinner since the program was resurrected four years ago. He collected 20 pins, a technical fall and a major decision this season.
“He left it all out there on the mat, despite getting majored. That’s pretty much it,” Wamsley said.