MOORESVILLE — With the state wrestling finals inching closer for local grapplers, the talent began to separate from the rest of the field at this weekend’s Mooresville regional.
All in all, Hendricks County advanced 20 wrestlers to the Evansville semi-state, where each grappler will have to win their first two matches to punch their ticket to state.
Avon, which advanced all 14 wrestlers to the regional, put eight grapplers in the regional finals and came away with two champions and an overall second-place finish.
“We thought we’d have anywhere from eight to 10 (advancing) coming into today,” Avon coach Israel Blevins said. “A couple of them got away from us that I thought we had a chance in. I was a little frustrated earlier in the day, (but) going eight for eight in the semi-finals and getting all eight into the finals turned things around for me. The kids wrestled well and we’ll take that.”
Franklin (167.5) bested Avon (133) for first, Danville (58) finished fifth, Brownsburg (46) was seventh, Cascade took 10th and Tri-West placed 16th.
Both Avon and Danville each finished with two regional champions.
Danville sophomores Brock Hudkins (120) and Elliott Molloy (126) were each two-tome regional champions and each knew the value of coming in first as they move on.
“You get first here, you get a fourth seed there and that gets you closer to the ticket round at state,” Hudkins said. “In second, you may get a third-place guy but that guy may have a tougher regional than you.
Molloy, who was knocked out before reaching state last season agreed with Hudkins.
“It’s good and makes it a lot easier,” said Molloy of the top seed. “I hope to make it to the finals … I just try to stay focused and not get too off course. Last year the pressure really got to me.”
Avon’s Brendon Helm (160 pounds) and Evan Elmore (170) each won their first regional titles and each has their own way of dealing with the inherent pressure.
“If you let the pressure get to you, then you’ve beat yourself,” Helm said. “You try to keep that behind you, moving forward and look past it.”
Said Elmore, “I listen to music, talk to my coaches about what my opponent does and then go through different scenarios.”
Avon put eight wrestlers in the finals, with six falling short of their ultimate goal. Brian Rasssbach (113), Quinn Harris (126), Nick Etienne (132), Shane Dillehay (195), Gunnar Larson (220) and Guy Henson (285) all finished as runners-up.
Two other Hendricks County wrestlers finished as runners-up as Brownsburg’s Nick Weaver (106) and Cascade’s Zach Batts fell a bit short in their championship matches.
Others advancing to the Evansville semi-state include Brownsburg’s Connor Allen (120), C.J. Damler (152), Stone Neese (182) and Zach Rumschlag (285); Cascade’s Casey Fox (152); Danville’s Kyle Smith (132) and Kody Caudle (160); and Plainfield’s Bryce Biddle (285).
— Follow Hendricks County Flyer sports editor Jake Thompson on Twitter @JacobEThompson.