BY DEAN HOCKNEY
PERU, Ind. – One week after dominating the field to win a wrestling sectional championship, the Western Panthers put in another sensational performance to win the IHSAA Peru Wrestling Regional team title in easy fashion. The Panthers will send 11 of its 14 wrestlers to the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne to participate in the New Haven Wrestling Semi-State – four of those will enter the competition as individual regional champions.
Western took home the team title with 157.5 points, easily outdistancing runners-up Rochester which tallied 88.5. Marion was third with 80.5 while Eastern tied Maconaquah and Peru for fourth-place with 66 each. Other area scores included Tri-Central in ninth-place (42), Lewis Cass in 13th (16) and Northwestern in 14th (15). Kokomo did not score.
The Panthers first regional champion came at 126-pounds when senior Tyler Lechner (27-2) won an 8-2 decision over Kasey Deardorff of North Miami. Minutes later, sophomore Hunter Cottingham (45-2) earned a tough 1-0 decision over Ethan Mason (39-3) of Tri-Central at 130-pounds. The Panthers earned three-straight weight class titles when 138-pound junior Dylan Goudy improved to 29-8 following an 11-4 decision over Eastern’s Tytus Morrisett (38-7). Western’s fourth individual title came courtesy of freshman Braydon Erb (42-4), who pinned Collin Silvers of Maconaquah at the 3:37 mark in the 220-pound finals.
Eastern freshman Tallan Morrisett (43-1) avenged a sectional loss by winning an 11-4 decision over Western sophomore Chandler Ciscell (29-14) at 120-pounds.
Tri-Central’s Jarron Grubb earned a regional championship by defeating Haydn Prater of Rocherster, who retired at 3:33 due to an injury.
Other semi-state qualifiers for Western include: Justin Brantley (third at 106-pounds), Donavan Shepherd (third at 152), Jerry Padgett (third at 160), Matt Scott (fourth at 182), Luke Lushin (fourth at 195) and Lane Eubank (fourth at 285).
Eastern also qualified Macaiah White (third at 126), Aren Turner (fourth at 145) and Garrett Hetzner (third at 170).
Northwestern will send a pair of freshmen wrestlers to the semi-state: Bodey Henry (20-12) placed fourth at 132-pounds and Kyle Cardwell was fourth at 220.