- Val T.
Fishback-to-back: Led by 7 individual champs, Rochester wins another sectional wrestling crown
Caston’s Kelly, Hickle join 12 Zebras as regional qualifiers
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Ethan Holloway, Greyson Gard or Brady Beck have been wrestling since they were five years old.
Marshall Fishback used the coronavirus pandemic to transform his body and mindset.
Wyatt Davis might be something of a wrestling prodigy. Aaron Swango gained from being a football quarterback. Alex Deming was patient and then seized his opportunity.
Not every wrestler’s story is exactly the same.
But for the Rochester wrestling team, it added up to perhaps their most dominant performance at a sectional in school history Saturday.
They won the Peru sectional with 252.5 points, beating runner-up Maconaquah by 29 points. The sectional title is the 12th in school history and their second in a row. The back-to-back sectionals mark the first time Rochester has won back-to-back sectionals since they won five in a row from 1993-97.
Rochester had 12 regional qualifiers, eight sectional finalists and seven sectional champions. All are believed to be school records.
The seven sectional champions were Davis (113), Holloway (120), Swango (126), Gard (152), Deming (195), Beck (220) and Fishback (HWT). All seven were No. 1 seeds going into the sectional, and all seven won Three Rivers Conference titles the previous week.
Rochester wrestlers went 7-0 in the championship round at the TRC tournament, and they went 7-1 in the final round at the sectional.
The other five regional qualifiers included Joey Spencer, who was third at 132; D.J. Basham, who was fourth at 138; Gavin McKee, who was fourth at 160; Eli Swango, who was fourth at 170; and Kaleb Shaffer, who was second at 182.
Davis, Basham, McKee and Eli Swango are headed to their first regional. Deming, Spencer, Beck, Fishback and Shaffer are going for the second time. Holloway, Swango and Gard are going for the third time.
“What you’re seeing is just hard work,” Rochester coach Clint Gard said. “You’re just seeing the kids that put in a tremendous amount of effort and time and energy in getting to this point. So you’re seeing the fruits of their labor. That’s what you’re doing all this for.”
The top four finishers in each weight class at the sectional advance to the regional, which Maconaquah will host at 9:30 a.m. this Saturday. The top four in each weight class at the regional advance to the Fort Wayne semistate on Feb. 12.
“It’s awesome,” Holloway said of having 12 wrestlers go to regional. “I wish all 14 could have gone because it would be cool to take everybody there, but I think we’re going to do fine. Our goal is to win it.”
Davis won all three of his first matches by first-period fall and spent just 3:54 on the mat. He finished his day by turning Lewis Cass’ Kaine Fowler with a hammer lock from the top position and pinning him in 1:19.
“He’s a stud,” Rochester coach Clint Gard said. “He’s good. And you know you’re going to see him three more years.”
Holloway started his day with two first-period falls and then beat nemesis Jared Brooks from Wabash 8-2 in the final. Brooks had pinned Holloway in the third-place match at 113 at the 2020 sectional and in the championship match at 113 in 2021.
Holloway gave up first takedown to Brooks this time, but he got a reversal to tie the score 2-2, and he then got another reversal in the second period to make it 4-2. He used a counter move to get a takedown in the third period and got Brooks on his back for two more points to close out the match.
“Same as always: weather the storm,” coach Gard said of Holloway’s strategy after his sixth match against Brooks over the last two years. “Jared is very explosive. He’s got some good stuff. He’s got some good technique. It’s just a matter of if you can withstand his first barrage of what’s coming, you’re going to be OK. And Ethan did that.”
Aaron Swango beat rival Griffin Shanley of North Miami 12-6 in the final for his first career sectional title. He beat Shanley for the fourth time in as many bouts this year, including last week’s TRC final. He gave up first takedown to Shanley but recovered to take a 4-3 lead by the end of the first period. He got an escape and a takedown which led to two back points to take a 9-3 lead after two periods.
Aaron later said that Shanley came at him faster and more aggressively than in previous matches and said he had to adjust.
“It feels great,” Aaron said. “The last two years I wrestled at sectional, I got fourth. I wanted to get it done this year. That’s the goal I set at the beginning of the year was to be a sectional champ. It feels good to achieve a goal that you set at the beginning of the year.”
Gard defeated Manchester’s Jordan Ayres by decision in last year’s sectional final at 145 and in the TRC final last week at 152. He duplicated the feat with a 5-0 win this time in a tense standoff for inside positioning before Gard attacked Ayres’ legs twice for takedowns.
Deming pinned Peru’s Keyton Ousley in 1:38 in his semifinal match before defeating Maconaquah’s Mason Taylor 6-1 in the final for his first career sectional title. In a match lacking action, Taylor was penalized one point for stalling.
“I don’t think the kid had any interest in wrestling, which is frustrating,” coach Gard said. “And I told that Alex last week. … It’s hard to wrestle somebody that doesn’t want to wrestle or wrestle you. And he handled it very, very well. He didn’t get frustrated. He wrestled a good match. It was a 6-1 match. We were pretty dominant. … But going further, you’re going to see that. Our big guys are going to see that, and they’ve got to be able to handle that a little bit.”
Beck needed only 1:42 of mat time to plow through Caston’s Noah Herd and Peru’s Cameron McKinney and reach the final. He then got seven takedowns and beat Manchester’s Preston Duffy 21-6 to get a technical fall with 14 seconds left in the match.
Fishback pinned Caston’s Garrison Hickle in 57 seconds and Maconaquah’s Johh Casey Pebley in 17 seconds to reach the final. He then pinned Peru freshman Trevi Hillman-Conley for the third time this season, pinning him in 2:39 after turning him from the top position.
“Going into my junior year, I just got off a sophomore season where I got fifth place at both conference and sectional,” Fishback said. “Then we had that quarantine, and during that time, I just spent all of it lifting and dedicating myself to being a better student and athlete. I went from F’s in three classes to the all-A honor roll the next school year. It was a big turning point to come out and being able to show all the hard work really pays off.”
Shaffer reached the final with a fall in 3:21 over No. 1 seed Edward Prince from Lewis Cass before getting turned by Northfield’s Jaydan Goshert and losing by fall in 2:58 in the final.
“He exceeded his seed,” coach Gard said. “He pinned the number one seed. And honestly made a technical mistake in the finals. He was wrestling really well. … He’s going to get a third-place finisher from the Oak Hill sectional (Western’s Brayden Shoaff). We’ll be excited. We can get him to semistate.”
Spencer lost in the semifinals to Manchester’s undefeated Dylan Stroud but then bounced back to pin Northfield’s John Clark in 53 seconds in his ticket match and Peru’s Cody Legg in 40 seconds in the third-place match.
Eli Swango lost in a tiebreaker to Peru’s Chase Seifert but pinned North Miami’s Nico Schwacke and Northfield’s Tristan Barlow to earn his regional ticket before dropping another tiebreaker to Seifert in the third-place match. By finishing fourth, he will have to face Eastern (Greentown)’s Brodie Porter, ranked No. 3, in his regional ticket match.
Basham lost to Peru’s top-seeded Cooper Baldwin in the semifinals but recovered to pin Northfield’s Karson Pratt for his regional ticket before losing by fall to Lewis Cass’ Jensen Burrous in the third-place match.
McKee pinned Manchester’s Dominic Lincoln to reach the semifinals before losing by fall to Maconaquah’s 10th-ranked Logan Farnell in the semifinals. He then won a 5-1 decision over Peru’s Authur Dominique to assure himself of a regional spot before Lincoln avenged the earlier loss with a win by fall in the third-place match.
Caston scored 39 points and finished ninth in the 10-team field.
Quin Kelly, who was third at 126, and Garrison Hickle, who was third at heavyweight, were the two Comet regional qualifiers.
Kelly, a junior, initially matriculated at Rochester but never wrestled there. He was convinced to try the sport at Caston and earned his regional spot when he pinned Southwood’s Hayden Jones in the wrestlebacks. He then ended his day with a 7-3 win over Maconaquah’s Alex Ousley in the third-place match.
“This is his first year with us,” Caston coach Mark Evans said. “He had been at Rochester in the past, and I don’t think he wrestled in high school at Rochester. Then he came to us this year, and I had been after him. And he’s really improved this year. He’s a real good scrambler. He can get in tight spots and come out on the good end, so that’s always a good thing.”
Hickle is a senior who is in his first year as a wrestler. After he lost by fall to Fishback, he pinned Southwood’s Ayden Stouffer, Northfield’s Mason Osborn and Maconaquah’s Casey to finish third.
“It’s amazing because we literally taught him one or two moves from each position, and he can just take it to him,” Evans said. “He just seems to be way more athletic than a lot of the kids that he’s wrestling.”
Peru sectional results: Rochester 252.5, Maconaquah 223.5, Peru 182.5, Manchester 154.5, Lewis Cass 112, Northfield 107, North Miami 86, Wabash 49, Caston 39, Southwood 19
Peru sectional individual champions
106 – Jalen May (Peru), 113 – Wyatt Davis (Rochester), 120 – Ethan Holloway (Rochester), 126 – Aaron Swango (Rochester), 132 – Dylan Stroud (Manchester), 138 – Cooper Baldwin (Peru), 145 – Cameron Baber (Peru), 152 – Greyson Gard (Rochester), 160 – Logan Farnell (Maconaquah), 170 – Zach France (Manchester), 182 – Jaydan Goshert (Northfield), 195 – Alex Deming (Rochester), 220 – Brady Beck (Rochester), HWT – Marshall Fishback (Rochester)
Rochester individual results
106 – Cooper Winn – sixth, 113 – Wyatt Davis – champion, 120 – Ethan Holloway – champion, 126 – Aaron Swango – champion, 132 – Joey Spencer – third, 138 – D.J. Basham – fourth, 145 – Mitchell Shafer – did not place, 152 – Greyson Gard – champion, 160 – Gavin McKee – fourth, 170 – Eli Swango – fourth, 182 – Kaleb Shaffer – second, 195 – Alex Deming – champion, 220 – Brady Beck – champion, HWT – Marshall Fishback – champion
Caston individual results
106 – forfeit, 113 – forfeit, 120 – forfeit, 126 – Quin Kelly – third, 132 – forfeit, 138 – forfeit, 145 – Liam Wilburn – did not place, 152 – Levi Martin – sixth, 160 – forfeit, 170 – Dylan Gearhart – did not place, 182 – Pete DuVall – did not place, 195 – forfeit, 220 – Noah Herd – did not place, HWT – Garrison Hickle – third
Rochester regional qualifiers and ticket matches
(Regional is at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Maconaquah)
113 – Wyatt Davis vs. Rylan Early (Kokomo)
120 – Ethan Holloway vs. Greg Sheron (Marion)
126 – Aaron Swango vs. Ethen Wortinger (Mississinewa)
132 – Joey Spencer vs. Nic Elliott (Marion)
138 – D.J. Basham vs. Omarion Clark-Stitts (Kokomo)
152 – Greyson Gard vs. Will Warnock (Oak Hill)
160 – Gavin McKee vs. Kymani Howard (Kokomo)
170 – Eli Swango vs. Brodie Porter (Eastern (Greentown))
182 – Kaleb Shaffer vs. Brayden Shoaff (Western)
195 – Alex Deming vs. Reid Keisling (Eastern (Greentown))
220 – Brady Beck vs. Wade Ryan (Western)
HWT – Marshall Fishback vs. Kalique Malone (Marion)
Caston regional qualifiers and ticket matches
126 – Quin Kelly vs. Devon Atkins (Oak Hill)
HWT – Garrison Hickle vs. Wyatt Strange (Oak Hill)
The Rochester wrestling team won its second consecutive sectional title at Peru Saturday. Sectional champions, from left, Greyson Gard, Aaron Swango, Wyatt Davis, Marshall Fishback, Alex Deming, Ethan Holloway and Brady Beck are kneeling in the front row. The seven sectional champions are a school record.