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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, February 11, 2017 4:36 pm

Bellmont sends four wrestlers to state

JOSH PATTERSON | For The Journal Gazette

It’s Baumgartner, back-to-back.

For the second straight year, Bellmont’s Bryce Baumgartner stepped atop the podium at the Memorial Coliseum for the 170-pound weight class at the New Haven Semistate. The senior (32-1) headlined the day for the Braves, who will send four wrestlers to Friday’s state finals opening round.

Yorktown won its fifth straight team semistate championship, while Jimtown placed second.

Also winning an individual semistate title on the day was Warsaw’s Kyle Hatch, who improved to 47-0 with his championship in the 152-pound bracket at East Chicago Central.

It’s been a rewarding recovery for Baumgartner, one of three Bellmont grapplers to compete in the championship round. With that said, there’s still a big step remaining – make it to Saturday, and guarantee a place in the state’s top eight.

“Coming in, probably a lot of people overlooked me since I was injured, but I’ve been getting better because my partner Caleb (Hankenson)’s been pushing me and helping me recover,” Baumgartner said. “I’d rather get a state medal than win semistate, but it’s still pretty cool.”

Hankenson (195) and Tony Busse (160) each won their first three matches on the day to advance to the finals before getting pinned by opponents with just one loss.

Busse was defeated for the second straight week by top-ranked Brad Laughlin of team semistate champion Yorktown, while Hankenson fell to No. 4 David Eli of Elkhart Memorial.

“I wrestled flat-footed,” Hankenson said of his finals match. “I have to not worry about who I’m wrestling and just do what I can do. It doesn’t always work out, but now I just need to work towards next week.”

Bellmont (85 points) led area teams with its third-place finish in the team competition, while Carroll (78.5) took fourth. Garrett edged Adams Central for seventh, 36-35.5.

Sophomore Logan Macklin led the way for the Flying Jets with his runner-up finish. His day epitomized the step up in talent between semistate and state qualifiers, earning a technical fall and pin in his first two matches to qualify for state.

But Macklin found the semifinals a greater challenge, earning a 1-0 victory over Bellmont’s Grant Gutierrez in the semifinals before Yorktown’s Eric Hiestand won the championship at 138, 10-2.

“I need to work on shooting,” Macklin said. “I was a little timid on my shooting.”

Macklin and teammate Anthony Mosser (third at 132) both shined on the gridiron this fall for Adams Central, which advanced to semistate. Turning in another great tournament run wasn’t lost on Macklin.

“Getting to two semistates in one year is pretty cool,” Macklin said. “I’d like to get up there in the top eight.”

If Macklin showed what elite competition area wrestlers will face at the state level, perhaps Central Noble’s Tanner Schoeff exhibited the emotional toil of what’s in store next week the most.

Just a sophomore, Schoeff (41-3) became the youngest state qualifier in Central Noble school history. After an 8-2 victory, the Cougar had to rally from behind to knock off South Adams’ Wyatt Miller, 16-10, in one of the wilder ticket-round matches of the day.

Schoeff trailed 8-6 midway through the third period before a reversal and multiple nearfalls secured the win.

“I guess I caught fire,” Schoeff said. “I get excited on top. Once I got that first two, I thought, ‘I can get another one,’ so I just went again, and it worked out. It’s just amazing.”

Hatch leads way for Warsaw

At East Chicago Central, Hatch took little time in claiming his state finals berth, winning his first two matches by pin in 43 and 55 seconds. Wawasee’s Braxton Alexander (40-4) placed second at 120 to advance to state as well.