It must have seemed like Déjà vu for GHS wrestler Rickenbaugh. After moving through two opponents, he found himself in the 140 weight class final against Cascade's Garrett Smith, the week before, the duo duked it out at the Avon Sectional. Rickenbaugh ended his day with a second-place finish, the best for any Putnam County wrestler at the regional.
Joining Rickenbaugh at Evansville will be teammates Ford and Wright, who both placed third at 171 and 215 repectively. GHS head coach Matt McComish was pleased with his team's effort on the day and thinks they stand a good change competing at the semi-state.
"I'm happy for our three guys that are still going," McComish said. "Tyler Rickenbaugh wrestled real well and got in the finals. Jacob Wright, I know he was disappointed with third place, but he got a good draw for semi-state and Jesse Ford did a good job too, I was glad to see him make it through."
McComish said it would be another week of hard work for his wrestlers and that at the level they will be battling, they can't afford to overlook anyone.
He also spoke of the jump his squad made from last year and the progress he hopes will continue to push the program in a successful direction.
"We only had three go to regional last year and this year we had six, so it's a big deal for us and to take three to semi-state -- it's a step in the right direction for us," he said.
Off-season wrestling programs have helped Greencastle, but McComish was quick to point to his seniors as being the compass of the team.
"I know that attitude from our seniors, last year we didn't have any seniors, and our four seniors this year, their attitude in the wrestling room has been great," McComish commented. "It really created an environment where everyone come in and works hard every day."
Cloverdale's Secrest punched his ticket to Evansville by placing second in the 160 weight class. He fell to Briar Runyan, eventually 160 winner, but defeated Andrew Gibson for his third place finish.
"Lee came through and wrestled well for us," Cloverdale head coach Steve Livingston said. "He wrestled (Briar) Runyan, the number one ranked kid in the state at 160. Up until the end, he was wrestling with him. I told Lee that in his other matches this season, he seemed uncomfortable, never got in his flow and that wasn't the case today. He went out there, his mind is getting a little stronger, and he's feeling more confident and wrestled with him."
Livingston brought a core of younger wrestler to the competition and watched as they fell by small margins.
"(Eldin) Hesselgrave lost by a point, (Donnie) Helterbrand lost by a point and both were leading their matches at one point. Obviously, if they get more competition with kids at that level, they'll win those close matches," he said.
He acknowledged that he would like to have a chance to see more of the teams involved in their sectional and regional throughout the season. He talked about possible adding more tournaments and bringing in the kind of challengers that will make the Clovers a tournament time force.
Livingston noted that two more wins by Secrest on Saturday will put him at the state competition and that's part of the team's overall goal -- make it one more Saturday.
"I'm just glad the high school wrestling season goes one more week. That was our goal, survive Saturday to Saturday. Lee made it one more. If we win two more matches, we make it one more Saturday and that's the state final and that's where we all want to be," he said.
Greencastle's success was not lost on the CHS coach either. He thought they all performed well on the day, but singled out their 140 grappler as putting in a big performance.
"I thought (Tyler) Rickenbaugh brought it today. I hadn't seen that side of him all season. He was a man on a mission today," Livingston said.
Unfortunatley, it was a short day for wrestlers from North Putnam and South Putnam.
North Putnam sent Tyler Ruble, Dustin Vires and had alternate Joe Mindiola compete on Saturday. All three bowed out in their first matches, but head coach Kenny Kerns thought it was overall a good day.
"There was no quit," he said. "We had some tough, tough matches. We had three kids with 20 wins or more and they're all here today."
In the world of sports, a coach's eye must always be on the horizon and Kerns is not different. He acknowledged the losses on the day, but also was optimistic about what the future holds for the North Putnam wrestling program.
"It was a good year. We have some good middle school kids coming up, we're going to hit the club, we're going to do some more tournaments, and so we're committed," Kerns commented. "They want to do it, so I'm going to go with them. Hopefully next year we'll come back with five or six kids and then move on to the semi-state."
South Putnam saw senior Antonio Hernandez and junior Chris Hurst battle early, but come up short.
Hernandez fell in the first round to Jordan Krulik of Martinsville, who went on the claim the 145 title. Hernandez was working his way through the match and attempted a escape Krulik's grasp, which resulted in his early exit.
"Antonio wrestled very well but was stopped on his shoulders as he was rolling through a move," SPHS head coach Todd Crosby said. "Even though this it was his last match as an Eagle wrestler, Antonio stated after his match that he wanted to help the younger wrestlers from elementary and middle school. The team is going to miss him next year."
Crosby said that Hurst wrestled great and had good shots and technique, but his opponent countered his every move to come away with the victory.
Next year Crosby will be looking to Logan Kinney and Hurst to set the tone for the Eagles and expects his crop of talented young wrestlers to be back and ready to compete.
"With the leadship of Hurst and Logan Kinney tied together with ten freshman expected to return next year, I look forward to the Speed, Power, Honor, Strength of SPHS wrestling program," Crosby concluded.
After the match Livingston spoke about what it takes to be a successful wrestling program at the high school level. Although the other county coaches were not present, each would more than likely agreed with the comments Livingston had to say. He noted that the team you see on the mat is only as successful as the members of the team who help get them there. In an individualized sport, team is the most important thing.
"If you're a junior varsity guy, you're represented by the varsity guy in your weight class," Livingston said. "The guys on the mat are not our team, they represent our entire team. We brought four guys here and any day of the week, you walk into our wrestling room and we'd have 15-16 high school kids in there working out.
"Those 10, 11 or 12 guys that are in there banging with these four guys -- that's what it's going to take for us to get to the next level as a team. I want to thank them," Livingston commented.
Greencastle's Rickenbaugh, Ford and Wright, along with Cloverdale's Secrest will compete at the semi-state being held at Evansville Reitz Saturday at 9 a.m.