Saturday was a long, taxing day for local wrestlers, having to face some tough competition from some bigger Hendricks County squads.
For a number of local wrestlers, though, it was just the beginning of the state tournament, as 10 Putnam County competitors advanced to this Saturday's Mooresville regional.
In the team competition, the local schools fared less well with North Putnam (seventh), Greencastle (eighth), Cloverdale (ninth) and South Putnam (10th) occupying the bottom four positions of the tournament.
Avon won the team competition handily, scoring 305.5 points to beat second-place Brownsburg by 66. The Orioles also led all schools with six of the 14 individual sectional champions.
Not only was North Putnam the top team finisher, they also had the top individual finisher from the county in B.J. Brewer.
The other two Cougars advancing are Jim Davis and Josh Keyt. Davis went 3-2 on the day to take fourth place at 189. His season record is 21-9.
Keyt was 2-2 on the day and also placed fourth. His season record is now 9-12.
North coach Ken Kearns was pleased with how his team performed on the day, having received a number of complements from opposing coaches.
"When the other coaches from the Hendricks county schools say, 'Hey, your boys are looking good today," that shows we did something well," Kerns said. "I'm pleased with our efforts."
Like any good coach, Kerns wanted to see all his kids advance. However, he knew they had all wrestled well, whether their seasons ended or will continue.
"We had five people place," Kerns said. "I'd like to see everybody do well. We always have high hopes, but, yeah, we did all right. The kids wrestled well today."
Two other Cougars placed in the top six. Tyler Ruble went 1-3 at 103 to place sixth. Andrew Schwartz was 2-2 to place fifth in 112.
For Brewer, Davis and Keyt, though, it's back to work as they move forward.
"We have another week of practice, and we'll go for it next week at Mooresville," Kerns concluded.
Like Kerns, Greencastle coach Matt McComish was happy with the effort from his team as a whole and was especially pleased for the three advancing.
Brian Winslow went 2-2 on the day to place fourth. His season record stands at 18-14.
"Brian Winslow is a first-year wrestler. We're really happy to move him on. He came back and beat some kids he had previously been beaten by, which was a nice surprise," McComish said. "He's really stepped it up. He took his lumps early in the year and is coming along and learning how to wrestle, which is nice."
Jacob Wright went 4-1 on Saturday, losing only to Avon's Sean Scott, the eventual 189 champion. Wright's season record improved to 28-6.
"Jacob Wright went to regional last year. He got third place today," the coach said. "He's coming off an illness. He had a tough day, but he made it through, which we're real happy about."
At 215, Kyle Buchanan lost his first match of the day to North's Keyt, but won his remaining three matches, including the third place match over Keyt. Buchanan's season record is now 27-10.
"Kyle Buchanan came back in the third-place match and beat somebody who beat him earlier in the day. That was good for us," McComish said.
As a whole, McComish said he knew his team would likely not be challenging for the sectional title. However, he was pleased with a number of the individual performances from those wrestlers not advancing.
"We wrestled well as a team. We pulled out some wins that we knew were going to be tough," McComish said.
Two other Tiger Cubs placed. Jesse Vermillion went 2-2 to place sixth at 145. Andy Harrison was 3-1 to place fifth in 275. McComish was especially pleased with the freshman Vermillion.
"Jesse Vermillion had another good day for us. He was real close to upsetting the number two seed, and then he got beat the next round," the coach said.
Heading into regional, McComish said he was simply looking for more improvement from his three wrestlers still alive.
The main bright spot in Cloverdale's sectional was the performance of Lee Secrest. The 160-pounder came off of a sickness earlier in the week to go 2-2 and place fourth.
"He wrestled well. He's been sick, so he's only been able to practice a couple of times this week," Clover coach Brian Siddons said. "He didn't wrestle as well as he usually does, but a lot of people have been getting sick lately Hopefully he'll get a little bit healthier before next week and make a good showing."
Secrest moves on to regional with a 26-7 mark.
"It's always exciting when you move on to the next level so we're excited for him," Siddons continued.
On the day overall, Siddons had mixed feelings. He knew the competition was tough, but he also knew his team had not come into the day as prepared as it could have been.
"We had some bright spots, but overall, we had some stiff competition and we just weren't prepared and didn't come in ready to wrestle," Siddons said. "You've gotta really get yourself focused and ready to go at this level and we just didn't do that."
Five other Clovers placed in the top six. Brittney Hughes (103), Donnie Helterbrand (119), and Levi Haltom (215) each went 3-2 to place fifth. Benjamin Sanders (135) and Zach Waycott (140) were both 1-3, placing sixth.
Siddons finished his thoughts by looking on the bright side -- knowing his kids did well at times and that most of them return next season.
"We did have some good matches in there. It's always nice to know you're only losing a few kids, so we'll be looking forward to next year," he concluded.
South Putnam had the lowest team finish of any county school, but the Eagles have three wrestlers advancing. If not for three key injuries, the Eagles could have finished higher overall.
Ben Parker, Josh Sanders and Tom Migliano all had injuries take them out of commission, taking points away from the Eagles.
"I thought the day could have been better. We had three injuries to key wrestlers that took some points away from us, and when you take those points away, that adds to other teams getting higher points than us," coach Todd Crosby said.
Three other Eagles had better fortunes on the day, though.
"Antonio Hernandez, Seth Green and Chris Hurst did a good job," Crosby said of his three advancing wrestlers.
Hernandez (130) was 2-2 and placed fourth. His season record stands at 19-8. Green (135) was 3-2 to place fourth, improving his season record to 21-8.
Hurst (275) was also 2-2 to place fourth. His season mark is 15-8.
"It's a tough sectional. Our guys aren't used to going with the Hendricks County schools. When you have Avon and Brownsburg, you have some 3A and 4A schools and we're a 2A that's probably real close to a 1A. I was really proud of them."
Another source of pride for Crosby is the contribution some of his other kids are willing to make to the program as a whole. They are returning to practice to help their advancing teammates as well as help get junior high practice underway.
"I have three guys going on and I have a great bunch of kids who are going to come together and practice," Crosby said. "They've already said they will come out and help. We're getting the junior high season started, so they're going to come out and try to come out and give those kids encouragement. We also had some junior high kids here today, so that's inspiring to see them getting interested early."
Brandon Vaughn (119) and Parker (215) also placed for the Eagles. Each one went 1-3 to place sixth in his respective weight class.
"We look forward to going to regionals now, heading to Mooresville next week," Crosby said. "We'd like to have taken about 14 of them, but that's not going to happen."
The remaining wrestlers move on to the Mooresville regional, which gets underway at 9 a.m. Saturday.
IHSAA Wrestling Sectional
Avon 305.5, Brownsburg 239.5, Cascade 162.5, Plainfield 123, Danville 109, Tri-West 99,
North Putnam 75, Greencastle 72, Cloverdale 63, South Putnam 62
(Top four advance to regional)
103 -- 1. Hall (A), 2. Barton (B), 3. Mocherman (T), 4. Winslow (G), 5. Hughes (Cl), 6. Ruble (N).
112 -- 1. Guernsey (Ca), 2. Acosta (A), 3. Heald (P), 4. Oaks (B), 5. Schwartz (N), 6. Haas (T).
119 -- 1. Fuller (B), 2. Wittman (P), 3. Beard (A), 4. Meyer (T), 5. Helterbrand (Cl), 6. Vaughn (S).
125 -- 1. Bealmear (T), 2. Estrada (A), 3. McHugh (B), 4. Boyer (P), 5. Doss (Ca), 6. Burdsall (D).
130 -- 1. Meunier (A), 2. Ames (Ca), 3. Hechinger (B), 4. Hernandez (S), 5. Haak (D), 6. Thomas (T).
135 -- 1. Smith (Ca), 2. Rassbach (A), 3. Parrish (P), 4. Green (S), 5. Flater (T), 6. Sanders (Cl).
140† -- 1. Denton (Ca), 3. Wong (B), 4. Keers (A), 5. Brewer (D), 6. Waycott (Cl).
145 -- 1. McKinney (D), 2. O'Bannon (B), 3. Richards (A), 4. Tackett (P), 5. J. Vermillion (G), 6. Bowman (T).
152 -- 1. Morgan (P), 2. Brewer (N), 3. Alfs (A), 4. Heitkamp (D), 5. Helmick (Ca), 6. Worden (B).
160 -- 1. Jones (A), 2. Blackburn (Ca), 3. Giles (B), 4. Secrest (Cl), 5. Murrain (D), 6. Hughes (P).
171 -- 1. Leach (A), 2. Lynch (D), 3. Caldwell (P), 4. Hill (Ca), 5. Markovich (B), 6. Lance (N).
189 -- 1. Scott (A), 2. Wentz (B), 3. Wright (G), 4. Davis (N), 5. Hensley (Ca), 6. Gadberry (T).
215 -- 1. Johnson (A), 2. Howland (B), 3. Buchanan (G), 4. Keyt (N), 5. Haltom (Cl), 6. Parker (S).
275 -- 1. Richey (B), 2. Mason (D), 3. Peregrine (A), 4. Hurst (S), 5. Harrison (G), 6. June (Ca).
† -- A Tri-West wrestler originally placed second at 140 pounds, but was disqualified from the tournament. The fifth-place finisher will advance in this class.
Putnam County Wrestlers Advancing
Cloverdale -- Secrest 160.
Greencastle -- Winslow 103, Wright 189, Buchanan 215.
North Putnam -- Brewer 152, Davis 189, Keyt 215.
South Putnam -- Hernandez 130, Green 135, Hurst 275.
Next meet -- Advancing wrestlers will be in action at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Mooresville regional.