The goal for Churubusco at Saturday's Carroll Regional is second place. What, it's not to win? Of course not, why disrupt tradition?
“We thing we have a shot at getting second,” said Eagles wrestling coach Sam Riesen. “And that's pretty good considering all the Fort Wayne programs that are in the meet. We've got a great thing going (finishing second), so why not?”
The Eagles will send eight wrestlers into the meet, including three No. 1 seeds, which begins at 9 a.m. The finals are scheduled for 12:30 p.m. The top four placing wrestlers in each weight class advance to next Saturday's Snider Semistate at the Allen County Memorial Coliseum.
The team title Saturday is all but locked up, even before the whistle blows. No. 12-ranked Carroll has advanced all 14 of its wrestlers, including five No. 1 seeds. So Riesen and his Eagles are content with grappling for second.
“We learned a lot last year,” Riesen said of his team at the Carroll Regional. “As a whole, we were disappointed. But this year, we've been getting better every week. Last Saturday (Carroll Sectional) was the best we've wrestled all year.”
Churubusco placed a strong second with 169.5 points behind Carroll's 261.5. Bishop Dwenger was third with 138.5. Earlier this season Churubusco placed second at the unofficial “Team State” meet for schools of its class. The Eagles then placed second at the NECC tournament.
The Eagles are led by a trio of seniors: Brandon Wormcastle (25-6 at 145), Brian Richardson (30-2 at 195) and Jason Nicodemus (22-0 at 220). The other seniors to advance are Joey Heaton (152), Sam Siddons (182) and Gunner Barnhart (285). They make for quite a class for Riesen, who is in his fifth year at the school.
“It's a good group of kids. They come from different backgrounds,” Riesen said. “It's been great to bring this group along together because they've all experienced success before, but this is their last shot. It means so much more to them.”
Wormcastle won his sectional title by avenging an earlier loss this season to Alex Arney of Carroll.
“He pinned me in the second period,” Wormcastle said of his earlier-season meeting with Arney. “So I just went out there with a positive attitude and went for it.”
Riesen said Wormcastle is powered by “real emotion” and “when he settles down and comes out dialed in and focused, he's a great wrestler.”
Richardson has come in “focused from Day One” said Riesen “and is peaking right now.” He could face Brian Solomon of Woodlan in the second round and Everett Green of Bishop Luers in the finals, both of whom have beaten him in the past.
“It's all about mental focus right now,” Richardson said of regionals. “I don't bring as much physically (to the mat) as I do mentally, anyways.”
As for Nicodemus, the all-state linebacker who came out late for wrestling, it's all about the team.
“He's under 190 (pounds) but he bumped up,” Riesen said. “He came out for the team and didn't care what weight class he wrestled. But he's very quick, technically sound and he's always prepared.”
Nicodemus could face another unbeaten wrestler, Nolan Wilson (30-0), in the finals. The two have plenty in common, but have never met on the mat.
"He's all-state in football like I am,” Nicodemus said of Wilson.
Riesen said it will come down to experience on Saturday and he is confident in his team.
“These guys, especially the seniors, have been wrestling varsity for all four years,” Riesen said. “Maybe last year (at regionals) they were a little nervous, but this year they won't be.”
CARROLL WRESTLING REGIONAL
When: Saturday, 9 a.m.
What: Top four individuals in each weight class from last Saturday's Carroll and New Haven Sectionals.
Teams: The favorite is No. 12-ranked Carroll, led by five No. 1 seeds including Riley Lefever (36-0 at 170). New Haven, which won the New Haven Sectional, along with Churubusco, Leo and Snider should all finish in the top five.
Individuals: There are four remaining unbeatens, including Lefever. Two should meet in the 220 finals: Nolan Wilson (30-0) of Leo and Jason Nicodemus (22-0) of Churubusco. Eastside's Matt Beard is 35-0 at 285. Two wrestlers come in with one loss: Garrett's Hayden Lee (29-1 at 106) and Bishop Dwenger's Ben Evans (25-1 at 182). Another great final could be at 195 where Bishop Luers' Everett Green (34-2) and Churubusco's Brian Richardson (30-2) should meet.
JAY COUNTY WRESTLING REGIONAL
When: Saturday, 8:30 a.m.
What: Top four individuals in each weight class from the Delta and Jay County Sectionals
Teams: The favorite is No. 16-ranked Yorktown, winner of the Delta Sectional, advances 13 wrestlers including eight No. 1 seeds. Adams Central won the Jay County Sectional and advances 12 wrestlers including four No. 1 seeds.
Area individuals: Bellmont's Brad Busse is 27-2 at 182; Adams Central's Cody Walburn is 35-1 at 126 and Derek Ellinger is 35-2 at 138.
GOSHEN WRESTLING REGIONAL
When: Saturday, 9:30 a.m.
What: Top four individuals in each weight class from the Westview and Elkhart Memorial Sectionals.
Teams: No. 13-ranked East Noble, winner of the Westview Sectional, is the favorite. The Knights have eight No. 1 seeds. Elkhart Memorial was the Elkhart Memorial Sectional winner and has two No. 1 seeds.
Area individuals: East Noble's top seeds include Grant Pepple (106), Connor Knapp (113), Tyler Housholder (145) and Drake DeMuyt (285); DeKalb is led by Zach Krumlauf (132) and Connor Brummett (152).