Wrestlers move on to state

Monday, February 12, 2007

EVANSVILLE -- On Saturday, both Robert Bittles and Chris Pingleton advanced out of the Evansville Semistate to earn a trip to the 2007 Indiana High School Athletic Association State Wrestling Finals.

Both entered semistate competition with undefeated records and first-round byes after winning regional titles. However, both left Saturday competition with at least one loss each.

"The bottom line is we're going to the big dance," GHS coach Russ Hesler said. 'We may be a cinderella, but we're going to the dance. Who knows what will happen."

Bittles finished fourth at 171 pounds. He is 34-2 on the season. Evansville Memorial's Matt Powless won the 171-pound weight division, defeating John Jenkins of New Albany (40-7).

Bittles -- a senior -- lost to Evansville Mater Dei's Ben Fleming in the consolation finals. Fleming is 32-12 this year.

Bittles was also defeated by Powless earlier in the day.

Pingleton is 43-1 this season after placing third at the semistate. The GHS senior defeated Josh Hughes of Scottsburg in the consolation finals Saturday. Hughes is 39-5 this year.

Floyd Central's Cooper Samuels won the semistate title Saturday, knocking off Evansville Memorial's Tanner Wedding in the finals. Samuels is 31-1 this season while Wedding is 35-8.

Pingleton lost to Samuels earlier in the day as well.

"They didn't get beat by any flukes," Hesler said. "Neither of them got beat by slouches. They just didn't bring their 'A' game."

The top four from each weight class at each of four semistate sites in the state advanced to the state finals, set for Friday and Saturday at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Pingleton will face Perry Meridian's Kyle Adams (48-1) in the first round. A victory over Adams will pit Pingleton against either New Prairie's Phillip Oudhuis (38-1) or Columbia City's Josh Michael (33-8) in the second round.

Bittles will face Jimtown's Ryan Konrath (40-0) in the first round of state competition. If Bittles defeats Konrath, he would face either Michigan City's Thurman Gast (40-5) or Perry Meridian's Craig Masengale (47-2) in the second round.

Both Pingleton and Bittles advanced to state competition last year as well.

At Evansville

Evansville Semistate

(Top four finishes/Greencastle results only)

160 -- 1. Samuels (Floyd Central), 2. Wedding (Evansville Memorial), 3. Pingleton (Greencastle), 4. Hughes (Scottsburg).

171 -- Powless (Evansville Memorial), 2. Jenkins (New Albany), 3. Fleming (Evansville Mater Dei), 4. Bittles (Greencastle).

Next Meet -- Both Bittles and Pingleton will compete in the IHSAA State Finals, beginning Friday.

Compiled by Jason Moon

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