After winning the West Central Conference title a season ago, the Cascade Cadets came into this year hoping for a repeat. However, a loss of wrestlers throughout the season left the Cadets with only 10 grapplers heading into Saturday’s conference championship.
All things considered, a second place finish along with four champions and three runner-ups wasn’t a bad showing. It just wasn’t the one Cascade was hoping to earn.
South Putnam (195) outdistanced Cascade (162) by 33 points for the victory.
“We fell a little bit short,” Cascade coach Travis Hutchison said. “We lost the depth needed to go in there and compete against a team like South Put, who has some quality wrestlers.
“Going in there with 10 kids, I thought we did a fantastic job.”
Cascade’s Zach Batts (145), Casey Fox (152), Hunter Fox (120), and Lukas Stoutenour (285) all came away with individual championships.
Batts recorded his fourth consecutive title, both Fox’s tallied their third straight and Stoutenour took a second conference crown in-a-row.
Sean Fox (113), Austin Manley (132) and Chris Howard (170) were all runner-ups. Fox and Manly lost by fall in the finals and Manly was taken out by a major decision. It was the second consecutive season both Manly and Howard finished as runner-ups.
Both Sean Bayse (195) and Nick Evans (220) placed fourth.
Headed into sectional action on Feb. 1 at Avon, Hutchison said the Cadets are starting to come together at the right time as they prepare for their postseason run.
“It’s been a rough winter season with school being cancelled and we lost some focus during that stretch,” he said. “We’re getting that back and now conference is over, we’re putting a lot of work in trying to get mentally ready for the tournament. We’re where we want to be and the kids will put their best foot forward for the state tournament.”
The postseason looms large for most wrestlers and getting through a competitive sectional, regional and semi-state are on all of Cascade’s grappler’s minds.
“There are a lot of quality programs and wrestlers in our sectional,” Hutchison said. “For some of our kids that will go deep, we will have to be mentally ready because anything can happen. You see it every year with one and two seeds going down. We just want to be mentally ready and wrestle to win.”
— Follow Hendricks County Flyer sports editor Jake Thompson on Twitter @JacobEThompson.