How big of a favorite is the Carroll wrestling team at this Saturday's Carroll sectional title? The Chargers' biggest threat may just be themselves.
“The key for us is if we are still fired up after last week,” said Carroll coach Scott Raypole. “Last Saturday was very exciting, but that's over. It's time now to build a foundation for (the state tournament).”
The No. 12-ranked Chargers are coming off a hotly-contested NHC Championship tourney victory over No. 13-ranked East Noble. While Saturday's meet shouldn't be nearly as tight, Raypole says his team is wrestling more for the following weeks.
Wrestling gets underway at Carroll at 8 a.m. with the finals scheduled for 12:30 p.m. The top four placers in each weight class will advance to next Saturday's Carroll Regional. Team scores will be kept in the same manner as in year's previous. But, there will be no team dual tournament next week for sectional team winners. Team scores will be kept throughout the state meet series with state champion crowned in Indianapolis at the IHSAA finals on Feb. 15-16.
Carroll truly is the favorite Saturday as the Chargers have 5 No. 1 seeds. Only Garrett and Churubusco (two each) has more than one top seed. The Chargers also have three No. 2 seeds and four No. 3 seeds and Raypole fully expects 13 of the 14 Chargers to advance to regionals.
“Seeds don't always hold up,” Raypole cautioned. “We need our No. 2 seeds to win and our No. 3 seeds to get to the finals. There are always upsets.”
Bishop Dwenger coach John Tone ceremonially waved the white flag of surrender at last Saturday's SAC Championships when talking about sectionals.
“It's Carroll against everyone else,” Tone said. “Actually, (the other schools) all ganged up on them, we might have a chance.”
Tone said Carroll's depth is to be commended, but agreed with Raypole in that seedings don't always hold up.
“We are going to go out there (with the intent) to win every match,” Tone said. “The key is to advance as many wrestlers as you can and let the team scores take care of themselves.”
The heart of the Carroll line-up is from 145 to 170 where all four wrestlers are seeded No. 1. Alex Arney (30-5) at 145 kicks it off. He says Raypole's concern about being fired up will not be an issue.
“This is it. You have to do good because it sets you up for the rest (of the tournament),” Arney said. “If you don't, it's one-and-done.”
Seeded No. 1 at 152 is Tristan Wilson (24-9), who says this week has been just like every other week.
“We have the same practices, the same routine,” Wilson said. “We are working so hard that by Saturday, we'll be ready to wrestle someone else. It doesn't matter who it is.”
Following Arney and Wilson in the line-up of top seeds are Spencer Malcolm (33-2) at 160 and Riley Lefever (33-0) at 170. Also seeded first for Carroll is Steven Cardenas (29-2) at 126.
Garrett's top seeds are Hayden Lee (25-1) at 106 and Austin McCray (18-5) at 138.
Churubusco's top seeds are Brian Richardson (27-2) at 195) and Jason Nicodemus (19-0) at 220.
Other top seeds are Northrop's Logan Aldrich (27-5) at 113; Whitko's Lane Wolf (11-1) at 120; North Side's Carlos Garcia (23-5) at 132; Bishop Dwenger's Ben Evans (22-1) at 182 and Eastside's Matt Beard (31-0) at 285.