By Matt Anderson
FISHERS — The No. 10 Hamilton Southeastern wrestling squad ran away with the Hoosier Crossroads Conference championship last Saturday, but there was no clear indication of where any of teams past second place would finish until the end of the day arrived.
Hamilton Southeastern had a 36-point lead heading into the championship finals. Host Noblesville, who placed second, finished the day with 137 points, fifth-place Avon tallied 127, and seventh-place Brownsburg scored 114.
“Between second and seventh place was 20 points, which is just unheard of,” Brownsburg coach Jason Catellier said. “That’s really just two wrestlers stepping up and doing better than what they did.”
It was difficult for Avon coach Israel Blevins to not think about Avon’s 10-point differential from fifth to second. The Orioles were without Brendon Helm in the 160-pound weight class.
“He was the third seed,” Blevin said. “He would have scored more than 10 points, I’m sure, which would have put us up there for second place. That’s definitely encouraging and hopefully, we can get some momentum off of that.
“Wednesday night we laid a big egg against Ben Davis, did not wrestle very well, and it was a good turnaround for us, especially knowing that we were only 10 points out of second and our 160-pounder didn’t wrestle.”
Entering the meet, Blevins said he knew the Royals were the clear favorite and that the Orioles could place anywhere from second to eighth. He said he didn’t know the scores would be as close as they were and every point would count.
Avon had 12 of its 14 wrestlers place, six of which were unseeded entering the tournament. The Orioles had two champions, Jonah Zorniger (182) and Dylan Jones (220).
“They were seeded first, finished first, that’s always good,” Blevins said. “It was just a good team effort, a lot of kids placed who weren’t seeded.”
Quinn Harris (126) and Evan Elmore (170) finished fourth and Brian Rassbach (113) took third.
Both of Avon’s championship victories came at the expense of Brownsburg’s Connor Ludwig (182) and Tyler Harlan (220). They finished as runners-up in their respective weight classes.
The matchups had some history. Last year, Ludwig lost to Zorniger five times out of six, but that sixth time, Ludwig won in the regional finals.
“Both the Avon kids, their 182-pounder is ranked fourth in the state, the 220-pounder is ranked third in the state, and we really thought we had a chance against both of them,” Catellier said.
Harlan and Jones met for the third time. In Saturday’s meet, Harlan had a takedown and an early escape, but got pinned in the second period.
“It was kind of a heartbreaker since we had just taken him down,” Catellier said. “We had a big confidence boost going into the second period.”
Brownsburg got unexpected production from every class above 152. Their only champion on the day, sophomore Evan Mallory (285), came in unseeded and pinned Zionsville’s No. 1 seed.
“Our heavier guys really carried our team today,” Catellier said.
Mallory returned from an injury not too long ago and won a wrestle-off earlier in the week in order to compete.