Rochester wins first wrestling sectional in 6 years, sends 11 to regional
Gard, Fishback win individual titles as Zebras edge Peru
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
BUNKER HILL –- The Rochester wrestling team sent a full squad of 14 wrestlers to the Maconaquah sectional Saturday.
Three of the 14 had qualified for a regional before. That meant that 11 of them had not had the experience of getting through a final round at a tournament at this level.
Ultimately, the young but precocious Zebras toughed out a difficult final round to score 208.5 points and win their first sectional title since 2015.
Peru was second in the field of 10 teams with 203.5.
Caston, the other RTC area team in the field, was 10th with six points.
Rochester had 11 regional qualifiers. Caston had none.
Of Rochester’s 11 regional qualifiers, two of them, Greyson Gard (145) and Marshall Fishback (HWT), won sectional titles. In both of their cases, it’s another blue ribbon in a trophy case that included Three Rivers Conference title won on the same Maconaquah mats last week.
Rochester and Peru also finished first and second, respectively, at the TRC tournament one week earlier. Peru had beaten Rochester in a dual meet at RHS on Dec. 22.
Rochester coach Clint Gard describes coming through in tense situations a “learning process.”
“They did pretty well until the final round,” Rochester coach Clint Gard said. “I felt like they probably got a little nervous and got a little tight with winning a sectional. We were in the lead, but it was still pretty tight team score-wise. I think they just got a little tight, a little nervous. As I told them afterwards when we got home, learning to win is just as hard and there’s as much that goes into it as learning a single-leg or a double-leg (takedown) or how to get off bottom.
“You’ve got to learn how to win and overcome some of that nervousness and adversity, and we did, but we didn’t have the final round like we could have had either.”
Gard began his day by pinning Northfield’s Layne Denton and Lewis Cass’ Ethan Stine to reach the final before he edged Manchester’s Jordan Ayres 3-1 in the final.
Fishback improved to 27-0. He needed only 20 seconds to stick North Miami’s Zac Schori before winning decisions over Manchester’s Trevor Dill and Lewis Cass’ Nathaniel Moss for the title. Moss’ loss to Fishback was just his third loss of the season and came after he devoured his first two opponents in a combined 89 seconds.
In addition to Gard and Fishback, other RHS regional qualifiers included
Ethan Holloway, who was second at 113;
Joey Spencer, who was third at 120;
Aaron Swango, who was fourth at 126;
Wade Shafer, who was second at 152;
Noah Swango, who was third at 160;
Kaleb Shaffer, who was third at 170;
Alex Deming, who was second at 182;
Eli Swango, who was fourth at 195;
Brady Beck, who was second at 220;
Holloway lost in the final for the second straight week to Wabash’s Jared Brooks but earned a regional spot for the second straight year.
Spencer lost by fall in 37 seconds in the semifinals to Peru’s Cole Sailors but came back to win his last two matches by fall.
Aaron Swango lost by fall to Wabash’s Ethan Higgins in his semifinal match but came back to pin rival Briar Roach from North Miami in 1:56 in his ticket match.
“Aaron’s right there,” coach Gard said. “It’s just a little bit more progression. We’ve kind of passed those kids that last year gave us trouble. Now we’re just trying to get to that next level. I think another year of maturity and hitting the weight room and another year on the wrestling mats and going to camp and things like that next year will really pay off for Aaron.”
Shafer lost in the final to Manchester’s Zach France for the second straight week. France won by fall at the TRC and by a 3-1 decision in their sectional match.
Noah Swango, a senior, gave up the first takedown to Peru’s Arthur Dominique in his ticket match but caught Dominique for a four-point throw and eventually stuck Dominique in 4:22 to earn his first career regional spot. He then beat Southwood’s Isaac King for the second time on the day to take third place.
“Noah’s one of our captains, but I would say unofficially our team leader,” coach Gard said. “Just a hard-working kid. He’s not going to be an easy match for anybody. He had a real good day. He lost a close one to the Wabash kid (Grant Carandante) we really thought he could beat. We lost to him a close one last week, so we were confident going into that one. The Wabash wrestler, he’s pretty crafty, pretty solid little wrestler. He wrestles a little bit different, and that’s hard to prepare for. And then (Noah) did a great job of wrestling back. The King kid from Southwood actually beat Noah last year at our sectional after we had beaten him at our conference. He’s wrestled that kid a bunch, and then to beat him twice in the same day was pretty tough to do.”
Shaffer did damage from the wrestleback portion of the bracket. He lost his first match of the day by fall to Maconaquah’s Jared Blake but came back to win three straight matches, including an exhausting six-minute scrap with Manchester’s Dominic Lincoln that resulted in a 9-5 win in the ticket round and a win over North Miami’s Grant Wildermuth in the third-place match that avenged a loss during a dual meet back on Dec. 9.
“I think a couple things helped Kaleb,” coach Gard said. “He started getting healthy. He stopped wearing a shoulder brace, which was good. Then Colin Weiand decided he was going to wrestle Kaleb off the last couple weeks and put a little pressure on Kaleb, and I think that helped him a little bit. And Colin actually beat him on one of the wrestle-offs. We did the best out of three on that one, and the way we do our wrestle-offs, if you challenge … you have to beat him twice, and he only needs to beat you once. Colin beat him the first match, and Kaleb beat him the second match, so that ended the wrestle-off for that week. And then they wrestled again right before sectional, and Kaleb was able to come out on top again. I think a little bit of pressure does not hurt anybody, and I think that needed to be put on Kaleb a little bit.
“He beat some tough kids. … Kaleb wrestled much better, much tougher. I was proud of Kaleb. He’s had a tough season. He’s been banged up a lot. … Knowing he hasn’t been wrestling well and us giving him a little bit of pressure and Colin nipping at his heels, it gives him a little refocus and gives him a chance to redeem his season a little bit. You could tell Saturday meant something to him. He wrestled different, and you could tell it was important.”
Deming used some keen strategy in a 7-6 win over Manchester’s Jacob Caudill in the semifinals. He intentionally yielded a one-point escape to Caudill to give Caudill a 6-5 lead before taking Caudill down for the winning points. His day ended with a 3-1 loss to Northfield’s Jaydan Goshert in the final.
Eli Swango became the third member of his family to advance when he won on an injury default in the ticket round.
Beck suffered just his second loss when Wabash’s Chad Wyatt Jr. beat him by decision in the final. He had earlier pinned Southwood’s Micah Dale and topped Manchester’s Gavin Mize to get to the final.
“I thought Brady wrestled pretty well,” coach Gard said. “The finals, I felt like he just gave him a little bit too much respect. Didn’t get after him, I think, the way I would have liked.
“Not all day, but that final round, we were very content on wrestling the first period to 0-0. That’s the way a lot of opponents want to wrestle us, especially us being aggressive. And they want to keep it close. That happened to Alex in his match. We’ve got to push the pace a little bit harder and get that first takedown in that first period.”
MACONAQUAH WRESTLING SECTIONAL RESULTS: Rochester 208.5, Peru 203.5, Manchester 189, Maconaquah 153, Wabash 152, Lewis Cass 105, Northfield 88, North Miami 81.5, Southwood 30, Caston 6
106 – Tyler Wolfe -- fifth, 113 – Ethan Holloway -- second, 120 – Joey Spencer -- third, 126 – Aaron Swango – fourth; 132 – Mitchell Shafer -- sixth; 138 – Nathaniel Beck -- DNP, 145 – Greyson Gard – champion, 152 – Wade Shafer -- second, 160 – Noah Swango – third, 170 – Kaleb Shaffer – third, 182 – Alex Deming – second, 195 – Eli Swango – fourth, 220 – Brady Beck – second, HWT – Marshall Fishback – champion
106 – Eric Reidenbach – DNP, 113 – forfeit, 120 – forfeit, 126 – forfeit, 132 – Austin Dague – DNP, 138 – Ethan Amezquita – sixth, 145 – Levi Martin – DNP, 152 – forfeit, 160 – forfeit, 170 – forfeit, 182 – Pete DuVall – DNP, 195 – forfeit, 220 – forfeit, HWT – forfeit
MACONAQUAH SECTIONAL INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONS
106 – Jalen May (Peru), 113 – Jared Brooks (Wabash), 120 – Cole Sailors (Peru), 126 – Ethan Higgins (Wabash), 132 – Dylan Stroud (Manchester), 138 – Alex Legg (Peru), 145 – Greyson Gard (Rochester), 152 – Zach France (Manchester), 160 -- Grant Carandante (Wabash), 170 – Chase Seifert (Peru), 182 – Jaydan Goshert (Northfield), 195 – Logan Cox (Northfield), 220 – Chad Wyatt Jr. (Wabash), HWT – Marshall Fishback (Rochester)
ROCHESTER REGIONAL TICKET MATCHES
113 – Ethan Holloway vs. Peytonn Bowland (Oak Hill)
120 – Joey Spencer vs. Julian Perez (Oak Hill)
126 – Aaron Swango vs. Harper Dedman (Oak Hill)
145 – Greyson Gard vs. Tyler Miller (Oak Hill)
152 – Wade Shafer vs. Bodey Henry (Northwestern)
160 – Noah Swango vs. J.C. Hernandez (Oak Hill)
170 – Kaleb Shaffer vs. Kymani Howard (Kokomo)
182 – Alex Deming vs. Jett Thompson (Oak Hill)
195 – Eli Swango vs. Levi Lee (Marion)
220 – Brady Beck vs. Kasey Smith (Oak Hill)
HWT – Marshall Fishback vs. Tyler Wright (Eastern (Greentown))
NOTE: The Maconaquah regional will start at 9:30 a.m. this Saturday.
Marshall Fishback, Maconaquah sectional champion at 285 pounds
Greyson Gard, Maconaquah sectional champion at 145 pounds