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  • Val T.

Rochester comes up ‘big,’ tops Plymouth to win 4th straight sectional

Horn breaks Zebra single-season pin record; Rochester’s 11 regional qualifiers join Winamac’s 10, Caston’s 2


Sports Editor, RTC

The Rochester wrestling team celebrates with the sectional championship trophy after winning the Plymouth sectional with 256.5 points Saturday. Front, from left – sectional champions, Brant Beck, Declan Gard, Alex Deming, Brady Beck, Colin Weiand, Layne Horn. Middle – Wyatt Davis, Ethan Amezquita, D.J. Basham, Grant Holloway. Back – Reed Perry, Konor Fugate, Brantlyn Brady, Kale Shotts.

PLYMOUTH — Declan Gard was not a regional qualifier in 2022.

He is a sectional champion in 2023.

Bigger, stronger and more mat aware, his growth – literally and figuratively – might well have symbolized the Rochester wrestling team’s performance at the Plymouth sectional Saturday.

Qualifying 11 wrestlers for the regional with six of them winning individual sectional titles, Rochester won the 10-team sectional with 256.5 points. The host Pilgrims had 238.5.

Rochester trailed prior to the 165-pound final, but they won every weight class from 165 through 285 to capture their fourth straight sectional.

In other words, the big guys came up big.

“It feels good,” Rochester coach Clint Gard said. “Plymouth is a very, very good team. I felt like the competition here, at least in the final round and for third and fourth (place) was much better than what we would have seen at Peru.”

But the historic part of the day belonged to Rochester sophomore Layne Horn, who  broke Damon Hummel’s 30-year-old school record for pins in a season with 32. His 32nd victim was Plymouth’s Coen Kraemer, who Horn stuck in 3:08 in the final.

Individual sectional champions included Horn (126), Brant Beck (165), Gard (175), Colin Weiand (190), Alex Deming (215) and Brady Beck (HWT).

Horn is ranked No. 7 in the state, Brant Beck is No. 6, Weiand is No. 22, Deming is No. 5, and Brady Beck is No. 2.

If there is any drawback for Horn and Brant Beck, it’s that neither has had as many competitive matches, according to coach Gard.

“Brant and Layne, I’m starting to get concerned,” coach Gard said. “I really though Layne and Brant by now would be a little bit more tested, and I guess Brant was at the McKee and one match at team state (against Cowan’s Levi Abbott), but Layne just hasn’t been tested, at least in competition.

“He works hard in practice, but he’ll be tested next week with (Dylan) Bennett from Penn and maybe one or two other kids, and obviously going to the semistate, but Layne’s just been very, very dominant, and since the McKee, Brant’s just been dominating everybody.”

The unheralded champion might be Declan Gard, who was determined to have a better sectional after finishing fifth at the Peru sectional in 2023.

Gard started his day with a fall in 5:15 over Warsaw’s Liam Smith, followed with a technical fall over Culver Academy’s Michael Patipe in the semifinals and finished with a 6-2 win over Winamac’s Talen Garner in the final.

“A lot of preparation, a lot of offseason stuff,” Declan Gard said when asked what he did to prepare himself for this season. “Doing a lot of practices, working hard, doing workouts by myself, running, I have a stationary bike I do, and all that stuff I did definitely helped. … My style is to definitely start slow, pick it up towards the end and gas people out. My opponents don’t really expect me to do much, but then I come out and put the pressure on them.”

Grant Holloway (106), D.J. Basham (132), Wyatt Davis (150) and Ethan Amezquita (157) finished second in their respective weight classes to advance, and 144-pound freshman Kale Shotts finished third to advance.

Davis is ranked No. 15 but lost to No. 7 Caydn Smith of Plymouth 8-3 in the final.

Coach Gard said Davis had been ill the last two weeks that had limited practice time. He also said that Davis will need to improve on his feet in practice as he prepares for the regional.

Perhaps the day’s most anticipated match was the last one – Brady Beck vs. Plymouth’s fifth-ranked Anthony Popi in the heavyweight final.

Brady Beck defeated Popi 3-2 at the Bob Read Super Duals at Plymouth on Dec. 2 and outlasted him again 5-1.

He used a counter move to get a takedown in the first period and an escape to lead 3-0 after two periods.

“Getting that first takedown is big, especially in the heavyweights … because now you’re making Popi come to you,” coach Gard said.

Popi started the third period to get an escape but could not land a shot, and Brady Beck eventually added another takedown to complete the scoring.

Brady Beck said Popi was “stalling” in their earlier match. In this match, he said Popi “came out firing.”

“My performance wasn’t great, but I scored when I needed to,” Brady Beck said. “I didn't feel like I wrestled too bad, so overall, I’m happy with it.”

Deming was a takedown machine against Warsaw’s Kameron Kauffman, recording five takedowns and two near-falls to earn a 17-3 major decision win in the final.

Deming (38-0) earlier pinned Caston’s Brody Brewer and Triton’s Esai Lemler to reach the final.

Weiand was the No. 2 seed at 190 but avoided top-seeded George Bondarenko from Culver Academy. Triton’s Kenny Jones upset Bondarenko, pinning him in 3:15 in the semifinals, but Weiand folded Jones’ arm in the final and won by fall in 1:12.

“I felt like he was dominant today,” coach Gard said of Weiand. “He stayed with the stuff that he really does well, and he was dominant.”

Weiand reached the final with falls over Winamac’s Cooper Kopka and Caston’s Pete DuVall.

Perhaps the biggest upset from a Rochester wrestler came from Amezquita, who pinned top-seeded D.J. Depke of Winamac by fall in 1:14 in the semifinals at 157. Amezquita then lost 7-2 to Warsaw’s Aaron Ross in the final.

Next up is the Penn regional this Saturday.

“Next week we’re going to see Penn and Mishawaka and some tough South Bend schools with some tough individuals, so it will be fun,” coach Gard said. “We’ll have to be good. Coaches are going to have to make sure we’re getting our kids prepared … so there’s a lot of work to do.”


Wrestling four days after winning its sixth straight Hoosier North conference championship, Winamac finished in fourth place with 166.5 points and advanced 10 wrestlers to the regional.

The Warriors had no individual champions. Top finishers included Willis Dennis, who lost the title match at 138 by fall to Plymouth’s Wesley Smith and finished second; and Talen Garner, who dropped a 6-2 decision to Declan Gard in the final at 175.

Other Winamac regional qualifiers included D.J. Depke, who was third at 175; Tearson Wolford, who was third at 165; Rian Shell, who was fourth at 126; Asher Jones, who was fourth at 132; Austin Attinger, who was fourth at 144; Ryan Bedwell, who was fourth at 150; Cooper Kopka, who was fourth at 190; and Eli Matthews, who was fourth at heavyweight.

Charles Cottrell, the Hoosier North champ at 120, finished fifth at Plymouth and will be a regional alternate.

The IHSAA moved Winamac to the Plymouth sectional after a long stay at the Twin Lakes sectional.

Kopka will face Penn’s Vincent Freeman in his regional ticket match. Freeman is the son of Notre Dame football coach Marcus Freeman.


Caston’s regional qualifiers included freshman Jackson Robbins at 106 and senior Pete DuVall an 190.

Both finished third in their respective weight classes.

Robbins, the Hoosier North champ, pinned Culver Academys’s Ella Wallace before losing by fall to Rochester’s Holloway. Robbins rebounded to beat Bremen’s Alex Barrera 12-1 in his ticket match before beating Warsaw’s Donovan Frazier in his third-place match 8-1.

DuVall pinned Culver’s Owen Tanner in 28 seconds to reach the semifinals before losing by fall to Rochester’s Weiand for the second time this year.

He then battled back to pin North Judson’s Grason McDaniel in 2:40 and Winamac’s Kopka in 3:28 to take third.

Ashton Bowyer, the Hoosier North champ at 132, finished fifth this time and will join Levi Martin (157) as regional alternates.


Culver filled three weight classes and scored six points to finish 10th. They had no regional qualifiers.

Freshman Theron Carrington was the only Culver grappler to place, finishing sixth at 157.

PLYMOUTH WRESTLING SECTIONAL RESULTS: ROCHESTER 256.5, Plymouth 238.5, Warsaw 205, WINAMAC 166.5, Triton 104, Bremen 81, Culver Academy 75, North Judson 66, CASTON 58, CULVER 6


106 – Grant Holloway – second, 113 – Reed Perry – fifth, 120 – Konor Fugate – DNP, 126 – Layne Horn – champion, 132 – D.J. Basham – second, 138 – Brantlyn Brady – DNP, 144 – Kale Shotts – third, 150 – Wyatt Davis – second, 157 – Ethan Amezquita – second, 165 – Brant Beck – champion, 175 – Declan Gard – champion, 190 – Colin Weiand – champion, 215 – Alex Deming – champion, HWT – Brady Beck – champion


106 – forfeit, 113 – Noah Secavir – sixth, 120 – Charles Cottrell – fifth, 126 – Rian Shell – fourth, 132 – Asher Jones – fourth, 138 – Willis Dennis – second, 144 – Austin Attinger – fourth, 150 – Ryan Bedwell – fourth, 157 – D.J. Depke – third, 165 – Tearson Wolford – third, 175 – Talen Garner – second, 190 – Cooper Kopka – fourth, 215 – Cody Wheeler – DNP, HWT – Eli Matthews – fourth


106 – Jackson Robbins – third, 113 – forfeit, 120 –Gage Minniear – DNP, 126 – Elijah Zabel – DNP, 132 – Ashton Bowyer – fifth, 138 – Myles Sherrick – sixth, 144 – forfeit, 150 – Gabe Burkett-Rader – DNP, 157 – Levi Martin – fifth, 165 – forfeit, 175 – Kane Finke – DNP, 190 – Pete DuVall – third, 215 – Brody Brewer – DNP, HWT – Luke Hipsher – DNP


106 – forfeit, 113 – forfeit, 120 – forfeit, 126 – forfeit, 132 – Kyler Weiger – DNP, 138 – forfeit, 144 – forfeit, 150 – forfeit, 157 – Theron Carrington – sixth, 165 – forfeit, 175 – forfeit, 190 – Owen Tanner – DNP, 215 – forfeit, HWT – forfeit


106 – Alonzo Chantea (Plymouth), 113 – Bryce McNees (Warsaw), 120 – Elias Garza (Warsaw), 126 – Layne Horn (Rochester), 132 – Seth Wright (Plymouth), 138 – Wesley Smith (Plymouth), 144 – Christopher Firebaugh (Plymouth), 150 – Caydn Smith (Plymouth), 157 – Aaron Ross (Warsaw), 165 – Brant Beck (Rochester), 175 – Declan Gard (Rochester), 190 – Colin Weiand (Rochester), 215 – Alex Deming (Rochester), HWT – Brady Beck (Rochester)


106 – Grant Holloway vs. Saul Delarosa (South Bend St. Joe)

126 – Layne Horn vs. Kane Miller (South Bend Adams)

132 – D.J. Basham vs. Preston Manzuk (Mishawaka Marian)

144 – Kale Shotts vs. Aiden Whitten (Penn)

150 – Wyatt Davis vs. Brock Gest (LaVille)

157 – Ethan Amezquita vs. Isaiah Reyes (South Bend Riley)

165 – Brant Beck vs. Harryson Givens (Mishawaka Marian)

175 – Declan Gard vs. Ron Addo (South Bend St. Joe)

190 – Colin Weiand vs. Micah Jacobs (South Bend Adams)

215 – Alex Deming vs. Jaden Laurence (South Bend Adams)

HWT – Brady Beck vs. Jesus Rodriguez (South Bend St. Joe)


126 – Rian Shell vs. Dylan Bennett (Penn)

132 – Asher Jones vs. Angelo Vargo (Penn)

138 – Willis Dennis vs. Brock Beshires (South Bend Riley)

144 – Austin Attinger vs. Zar Walker (Mishawaka)

150 – Ryan Bedwell vs. Wesley Harper (Penn)

157 – D.J. Depke vs. Christopher Scott (Penn)

165 – Tearson Wolford vs. Marques Young (South Bend Riley)

175 – Talen Garner vs. Jeirmi Scales (South Bend Riley)

190 – Cooper Kopka vs. Vincent Freeman (Penn)

HWT – Eli Matthews vs. Brody Brown (Penn)


106 – Jackson Robbins vs. Aidan Diaz (Penn)

190 – Pete DuVall vs. Trey Dunning (Mishawaka)

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