Rochester wins ‘Beck to Beck’ wrestling semistate titles
Brothers join semistate champ Deming, Horn as state qualifiers
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
The Rochester wrestling team won the Fort Wayne semistate with 77 points Saturday. Runner-up Delta had 75. This marked Rochester’s second straight semistate title.
FORT WAYNE — The ticket round of the Fort Wayne wrestling semistate is like a rollercoaster of emotions, except rollercoasters are a lot more fun.
Six of the Rochester wrestling team’s semistate qualifiers had their season end at semistate Saturday. Five of the six had their season end one victory away from qualifying for the state finals.
That part might be excruciating, but it’s also true that Rochester had four wrestlers qualify for the state finals, and once again, the Zebras won the semistate title at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne Saturday.
Sending four wrestlers to state matches last year’s total.
The Zebras won 16 total matches at the semistate, and they needed every one of them to make it back-to-back semistate titles. They scored 77 points, and runner-up Delta had 75.
Rochester had never won a team semistate title prior to 2022.
“If any one guy loses first round, we don’t win this,” Rochester coach Clint Gard said. “Our seniors stepped up.”
The state qualifiers include junior Alex Deming, the semistate champion at 195 pounds who will carry a perfect 43-0 record to state; junior Brady Beck, who finished second at 220 after losing his first match of the season in the final to Julante Hinton of Fort Wayne Northrop; freshman Layne Horn, who took third at 106 but also suffered his first loss of his high school career; and freshman Brant Beck, who won a sudden-victory thriller over Chase Leech of Garrett in his ticket match before dropping his final two matches of the day and finishing fourth.
In the state finals draw that followed Sunday, Deming drew Clinton Central’s Cael Albaugh in his first-round match. Brady Beck will take on Noblesville’s Austin Hastings. Horn will face Avon’s Nathan Rioux. Brant Beck will wrestle top-ranked Sam Goin of Crown Point.
Wrestling at the state finals starts at 2 p.m. Friday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Rochester wrestlers went 9-1 in 10 first-round matches at semistate. In addition to Horn, the Beck brothers and Deming, other Zebra winners included Ethan
Holloway (120), Aaron Swango (126), Greyson Gard (152), Colin Weiand (170) and Gavin McKee (182).
Carlos Orduňo (HWT) lost to Heritage’s Parker Hennessey 3-1 on a takedown with four seconds left to prevent a clean Zebra first-round sweep.
In the second round, also known as the ticket round as winners earn a “ticket” to the state finals:
Holloway lost 5-3 to Delta’s Neal Mosier, ending his prep career.
Swango lost by fall in 2:27 to Jay County’s Cody Rowles, ending his
Gard lost 8-2 to Bellmont sophomore Gavin Davis, ending his prep career.
Weiand lost 12-5 to Columbia City’s Tanner Reed, ending his junior season.
McKee lost by fall in 1:37 to NorthWood’s Kaden Lone, ending his prep career.
“It’s just different for me because we’re sitting here holding this trophy, and I feel like we should have got seven guys through,” Rochester coach Clint Gard said. “We lost Aaron and Ethan and Greyson, who have been a big, huge part
of this program and have been great leaders
for us. … It’s harder when you just don’t have any doubt that those guys are going to make it through. It’s kind of a punch in the gut. It’s hard.
“I’m trying to be happy and proud of these guys, which I am. I’m very proud of all of them. We don’t win this without nine guys winning in that first round. That was really, really important. … But it’s very bittersweet.”
The four Rochester winners in the ticket round earned gripping victories.
Horn won 8-0 over East Noble’s Kealon Fuller, earning a takedown and early back points to claim a 4-0 lead.
Brant Beck gave up the first takedown
to Garrett’s fourth-ranked Chase Leech in the third period to fall behind 3-1 before he got an escape and a takedown with 51 seconds left to take a 4-3 lead.
Leech got an escape to tie the match at 4-4.
But in overtime – “sudden victory” in wrestling parlance – Brant Beck got a takedown to win 6-4 and immediately raised his arms in victory in the direction of the Rochester fan section in the bleachers.
“Mind and heart,” Brant Beck later said succinctly as his reasons for winning. “Just that.”
Deming warded off a late takedown effort from Adams Central’s Trevor Currie in the final seconds to win 5-4 and earn his state ticket.
“I would say I was really nervous,” Deming said. “I got in my own head. I wasn’t being offensive. I was holding back. I was letting him work the pace. But after that one, I came back and won my last two.”
Brady Beck got a takedown at the second-period buzzer to take a 2-1 lead over Fort Wayne Concordia’s Chance Harris and went on to win 3-1.
In a highly anticipated match between unbeatens, Horn lost 8-1 to Delta’s Ayden Bollinger in the semifinals before he recovered to beat Manchester’s Rex Moore by technical fall (16-0) in the third-place match.
“It’s alright,” Horn said. “It feels good. I got some things to work on. Like, a lot of things. I’ve got to work on defending swing singles and getting my head right. … I think I was in my head a little bit going into that match. Not many words for it.”
Coach Gard said Horn has become too defensive in his style.
“He needs to get out of that mode,” coach Gard said. “Your defense is always going to work great for you, but you’ve got to be able to take a guy down with your offense. What the Delta kid did was pretty simple: He knew Layne wasn’t going to shoot. He just put his head down and just buried his head and walked Layne around the mat.”
Brant Beck lost 2-1 in an ultimate tiebreaker to Jimtown’s Conner Watts in the semifinals where Watts was able to ride Brant Beck from the top position in the final tiebreaker period. In the third-place match, Brant Beck lost 7-3 to Cowan’s Levi Abbott.
“It feels really good, but I also feel like the last two matches, I could have wrestled a lot better than I did,” Brant Beck said.
Coach Gard said Watts should have been called for stalling in the ultimate tiebreaker. That would have resulted in a point penalty which would have given Brant Beck the match. But he also said Brant needed to try different methods of attacking his opponent.
Deming handled Concord’s Armen Koltookian 12-6 in the semifinals in a rematch of Deming’s sudden victory triumph over Koltookian in the final of the Rochester John McKee Memorial Invitational on Dec. 17. He then beat Elkhart’s Nash Shupert 10-5 in the final, garnering four takedowns and a reversal.
Koltookian beat Deming in last year’s semistate final.
“It feels really good,” Deming said. “Last year, losing and getting second really motivated me here. The team got me here as well. We all work hard, and we all push each other.”
Brady Beck, ranked No. 2, topped No. 5 Keagan Martin of Bellmont 1-0 in the semifinals on a third-period escape. He then lost a rugged 3-2 final to Hinton, yielding a rare takedown in the third period to offset his two escapes.
“Brady’s a better athlete than what he showed in that match,” coach Gard said. “We’ve got to get to our shots. We’ve got to get to our swing singles. We got to level-change much better than what we have been doing. He’s kind of gotten a little bit lazy in the attack because he’s been beating kids. So we’ve got to get back to those things that he can do and that he does well that really beats those kids that are great athletes and good wrestlers.”
But the story of the day might have been traversing the ups and downs of it all, celebrating the success of four while having to leave behind six others who made such a difference.
“Semistate’s tough,” coach Gard said. “The kids we were wrestling were tough kids. Your opponent always has something to say about that. But I just don’t think we wrestled real well. We didn’t handle some adversity well in some matches, just uncharacteristic of our kids. But at the same time, we wrestled some kids who are solid wrestlers that put in a ton of time, and they want what we want, and only one guy can do it.”
Fort Wayne (New Haven) wrestling semistate results (top 10 teams): 1. Rochester 77, 2. Delta 75, 3. Jay County 62, 4. Fort Wayne Snider 56.5, 5. Belmont 52.5, 6. Western 51.5, t-7. Adams Central 46, t-7. Kokomo 46, 9. Garrett 44.5, 10. Elkhart 42
106 – Layne Horn – third
def. Keen (Winchester), fall, 3:07
def. Fuller (East Noble), 8-0
lost to Bollinger (Delta), 8-1
def. Moore (Manchester), tech fall, 16-0, 5:00
120 – Ethan Holloway – did not place
def. Rocha (New Haven), 10-7
lost to Mosier (Delta), 5-3
126 – Aaron Swango – did not place
def. Courter (Whitko), fall, 1:11
lost to Rowles (Jay County), fall, 2:27
152 – Greyson Gard – did not place
def. Knepper (DeKalb), 7-2
lost to Davis (Bellmont), 8-2
160 – Brant Beck – fourth
def. Davenport (Daleville), 9-3
def. Leech (Garrett), 6-4 (SV)
lost to Watts (Jimtown), 2-1 (UTB)
lost to Abbott (Cowan), 7-3
170 – Colin Weiand – did not place
def. Dunn (DeKalb), 3-0
lost to Reed (Columbia City), 12-5
182 – Gavin McKee – did not place
def. Alderdice (Fort Wayne Dwenger), fall, 3:58
lost to Lone (NorthWood0, fall, 1:38
195 – Alex Deming – champion
def. Owsley (Lakeland), tech fall, 18-3, 4:51
def. Currie (Adams Central), 5-4
def. Koltookian (Concord), 12-6
def. Shupert (Elkhart), 10-5
220 – Brady Beck – second
def. Powers (Wes-Del), fall, 3:25
def. Harris (Fort Wayne Concordia), 3-1
def. Martin (Bellmont), 1-0
lost to Hinton (Fort Wayne Northrop), 3-2
HWT – Carlos Orduňo – did not place
lost to Hennessey (Heritage), 3-1
Fort Wayne semistate champions
106 – Ayden Bollinger (Delta), 113 – Jalen May (Kokomo), 120 – Tanner Tishner (Western), 126 – Keegan Schlabach (Lakeland), 132 – Easton Doster (New Haven), 138 – Tony Wood (Jay County), 145 – Braxton Miller (DeKalb), 152 – Mitchell Betz (Western), 160 – Logan Farnell (Maconaquah), 170 –
Top Left: Rochester junior Alex Deming won the 195-pound title at the Fort Wayne semistate Saturday to qualify for this weekend’s IHSAA state finals.
Top Right: Rochester’s Brady Beck finished second at 220 pounds at the Fort Wayne semistate Saturday to qualify for the IHSAA state finals. (Photo provide by Paul Deming)
Bottom Left: Rochester’s Layne Horn finished third at 106 pounds at the Fort Wayne semistate Saturday to qualify for the IHSAA state finals.
Bottom Right: Rochester’s Brant Beck finished fourth at 160 pounds at the Fort Wayne semistate Saturday to qualify for the IHSAA state finals.