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  • Val T.

Don’t have a Cowan, man: Holloway, Beck, Fishback win McKee titles, but Zebras settle for 2nd

Valley’s Owens beats Manchester’s Dill in OT, wins title at 195


Sports Editor, RTC

You can’t keep a good man down.

That phrase might apply to Rochester freshman wrestler Brady Beck.

You can’t keep a good man from putting you down.

That phrase might apply to Rochester junior wrestler Marshall Fishback.

You can’t keep a good man from pinning you in 43 seconds.

That phrase might apply to Rochester sophomore wrestler Ethan Holloway.

Regardless, Holloway (113), Beck (220) and Fishback (HWT) all won weight class titles at the Rochester John McKee Memorial Invitational at the RHS gym Saturday, helping the Zebras take second out of 15 teams in their annual week-before-Christmas home tournament.

The only team to finish ahead of Class 1A, No. 8 Rochester was Class 1A, No. 3 Cowan, who won with 233 points. RHS, who lost a dual meet to Cowan in a tournament at Oak Hill High School on Dec. 5, had 220.

The other area champion was Bazle Owens, the Tippecanoe Valley sophomore who won the title at 195. The Owens-led Vikings placed 12th with 81 points.

Caston also participated and was 15th with 15 points.


Beck was the No. 6 seed but prevailed 3-2 over No. 4 seed Josh Brown of Hamilton Heights in the championship match. Beck gave up the first takedown on a counter move but escaped to get back within 2-1.

He started the second period in the down position and got another escape to tie the

 a junior from Rochester, won the Rochester John McKee Memorial Invitational title at heavyweight Saturday. ranks Fishback No. 7 among heavyweights that feed into the Fort Wayne semistate.
Marshall Fishback, Rochester


He rode Brown from the top position in the third period. Though Beck couldn’t turn Brown, officials hit Brown with a stalling warning and then a stalling penalty in the final seconds and awarded Beck with the decisive point.

Beck had pinned wrestlers from Calumet, Cowan and Valley’s Dalton Alber to reach the final. His only loss is to South Bend Riley senior Commander Jenkins, a regional qualifier at 195 last year. Asked to describe his freshman season, he called it “pretty good.”

He said his goals are to win conference and sectional titles and qualify for state.

“I guess I was just looking for something safe,” Beck said of his match with Brown. “And I feel comfortable from an underhook, so that’s what I kept going to. I couldn’t get anything from it, so he was just throwing it by.”

Beck noticed that Brown slowed down as the match progressed.

“He came out firing real quick, and I just held my ground and stayed with him,” Beck said. “And then near the end, he slowed down a lot, so I just picked it up and got the stalling point to win the match.”

Wrestling Elkhart’s Jacob Sommer for the second time in as many weeks, Fishback jumped to a 3-0 lead in the second period before Sommer caught Fishback low on a clench and threw Fishback on his back. Sommer was awarded four points – two for a takedown and two more for a near fall. But Fishback immediately escaped to tie the match at 4-4.

And then, starting the third period, Fishback turned Sommer from the top position and earned the fall in 4:17. The No. 1 seed in the tournament, Fishback had torn through Brandt Thornburg of Cowan and Ian Becker from Valley to reach the final.

“He got thrown, and all of a sudden he got out of his game plan, and I was just on him to keep going,” coach Gard said. “Don’t stop. You got caught. Don’t let that affect you. He did a nice job. I think he dominated pretty well today – he and Brady both.”

Holloway won a weight class low on numbers as only seven of the 15 schools fielded a wrestler. After a pair of forfeits, Holloway pinned Bremen’s Cody Czarnecki in the semifinals before locking in a cradle on Hamilton Heights’ Isaac Kuhn and pinning him in 43 seconds in the championship match.

Coach Gard called Holloway’s performance “dominant.”

“When you think about it, he’s wrestled a couple of tough kids and made them look really, really bad,” coach Gard said. “So we need to get him some tough matches. … He needs a couple tough ones before we hit the tournament series in January.”

Meanwhile, Aaron Swango (126), Greyson Gard (145) and Noah Swango (160) all finished second in their weight classes.

Aaron Swango had wins over Elkhart and West Noble before a 4-1 loss to Tri-West’s Maddox Johnson in the final.

A potential matchup with Valley semistate qualifier Branson McBrier didn’t materialize for Gard, who had pins over wrestlers from Caston and Lewis Cass to reach the final. He then ran into another semistate qualifier, Cowan’s Toby Abbott, who pinned him in 3:37.

Noah Swango took a cradle from Cowan’s Austin Jones and lost in 26 seconds in the final. Noah Swango had gotten to the final with pins over wrestlers from Bremen and Hamilton Heights.

“Noah’s a great leader for us and one of our team captains,” coach Gard said. “Sometimes I forget that he’s there because he works hard and does everything I need him to do, and so you take your eye off him a little bit, but he’s a kid I can turn around and no matter what’s going on, he’s doing the right thing behind my back. He’s a good kid. I really enjoy Noah.”

Other RHS placers included Colin Weiand, who was fourth while filling in for the quarantines Wade Shafer at 152; Alex Deming, who was fifth at 182 in a weight class that included Elkhart state qualifier Clayton Lundy, Valley semistate qualifier Brandon Hammer (Valley) and regional qualifiers Dominic Pugliese (Tri-West) and Dalton May (Cowan); and newly eligible Joey Spencer, who took fifth at 120.

Tippecanoe Valley

Owens and Manchester’s Trevor Dill were tied 2-2 after two periods in the championship

Bazle Owens, Tippecanoe Valley

match at 195 when Owens got a takedown and two back points to grab a 6-2 lead.

Dill, however, was awarded a reversal and two back points at the regulation buzzer – Valley coach Kyler Kearby thought Dill was out of bounds but the official thought otherwise -- to tie the match and force overtime.

But in overtime, Owens got low leverage and Dill and threw him on his back for a takedown and three near-fall points. Though he was unable to secure the fall, Owens had his victory.

“I went to do a duck-under on him, and when I came back around, he kept following me and following me,” Owens explained. “When he came back down, I body-locked him and tripped him and put him on his back and almost stuck him.”

Owens said it was close to one of his best days ever in wrestling. Owens had lost to Dill in a dual meet earlier this season.

“It feels amazing to go out there and know that you can beat a kid in the finals that you lost to previously by a pretty big margin, and you can go out there and push yourself, and I beat him in overtime even though I was gassed,” Owens said.

Owens said he’s gotten a lot stronger since last year. He said wrestling teammates like Brandon Hammer and Dalton Alber in practice every day have helped him improve his technique and forced him to use his speed.

“I’ve developed a bit more technique and a bit more overall moves,” Owens said. “A better mindset overall too. To just go out there and not look at the guy and see how big he is and stuff like that and to just go out there and think about that I have been working just as long as they have, if not longer, and I’m not sure why I wouldn’t be able to beat them.”

Valley fielded a squad of seven wrestlers. Four of them placed. In addition to Owens, Hammer was fourth at 182, Alber was fourth at 220, and Ian Becker was fourth at heavyweight.

Valley coach Kyler Kearby said some of his wrestlers were injured and some were out due to coronavirus-related reasons. He didn’t specify which wrestlers were out for which reasons, but he said it was “a little bit of both.”

Drake Montelongo, a 2020 semistate qualifier and last year’s McKee champ at 113, did not wrestle.

Valley forfeited 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 152 and 160.

“On a good day, we should have at least 12 out here, so we’re missing about half our lineup,” Kearby said.

“Right now, we’re sitting at 7-6,” Kearby said. “We’ve definitely gotten better from the beginning of the year to right now, not just individually but as a team. When we come back (from winter break), I think we see Whitko after Christmas, so I want to get off to a good start and just keep moving forward. The big thing is that we can only control what we can control. Obviously, with contact tracing and that, you never know.”


The only Caston wrestler to place was sophomore Austin Dague, who was sixth at 132.

Caston forfeited 106, 113, 120, 152, 160, 182, 195, 220 and heavyweight.

ROCHESTER JOHN MCKEE MEMORIAL INVITATIONAL TEAM SCORES: Cowan 233, Rochester 220, Hamilton Heights 215.5, Manchester 179, Elkhart 133, Calumet 111, West Noble 105, Northwestern 96, Bremen 91, North Miami 91, Lewis Cass 82, Tippecanoe Valley 81, Tri-West 79.5, Clinton Prairie 27, Caston 15


106 – Isaac Bumgardner (Northwestern), 113 – Ethan Holloway (Rochester), 120 – Jayden Jett (Cowan), 126 – Maddox Johnson (Tri-West), 132 – Dylan Stroud (Manchester), 138 – Elijah Burlingame (Manchester), 145 – Toby Abbott (Cowan), 152 – Keagan Keesling (Cowan), 160 – Austin Jones (Cowan), 170 – Kyle Cardwell (Northwestern), 182 – Clayton Lundy (Elkhart), 195 – Bazle Owens (Tippecanoe Valley), 220 – Brady Beck (Rochester), HWT – Marshall Fishback (Rochester)

Rochester results

106 – forfeit, 113 – Ethan Holloway – champion, 120 – Joey Spencer – fifth, 126 – Aaron Swango – second, 132 – Mitchell Shafer – DNP, 138 – Nathaniel Beck – DNP, 145 – Greyson Gard – second, 152 – Colin Weiand – fourth, 160 – Noah Swango – second, 170 – Kaleb Shaffer – DNP, 182 – Alex Deming – fifth, 195 – Eli Swango – fourth, 220 – Brady Beck – champion, HWT – Marshall Fishback – champion

Tippecanoe Valley results

106 – forfeit, 113 – forfeit, 120 – forfeit, 126 – forfeit, 132 – forfeit, 138 – Manns – DNP, 145 – Branson McBrier – DNP, 152 – forfeit, 160 – forfeit, 170 – Mason – DNP, 182 – Brandon Hammer – fourth, 195 – Bazle Owens – champion, 220 – Dalton Alber – fourth, HWT – Ian Becker – fourth

Caston results

106 – forfeit, 113 – forfeit, 120 – forfeit, 126 – Favors – DNP, 132 – Austin Dague – sixth, 138 – Ethan Amezquita – DNP, 145 – Martin – DNP, 152 – forfeit, 160 – forfeit, 170 – Pete DuVall – DNP, 182 – forfeit, 195 – forfeit, 220 – forfeit, HWT – forfeit

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