Journey ends for four other county grapplers
Hunter Page extended Monroe Central’s streak of wrestling state qualifiers to three years in a row Saturday at the New Haven Semi-State.
Just a sophomore, Page won three of his four matches, beating two seniors and a junior. His only loss was to the semi-state champion.
As a result of his third place finish, Page moves on to Banker’s Life Fieldhouse on Friday night where he will wrestle Colin Kwiatkowski of Valparaiso, who is 12-4 this season and finished as the 182-lb. runner-up at the East Chicago Semi-State. Page is scheduled to compete on Mat 3 in Match 86.
Page advanced by pinning his first opponent, Jayden Gossert of Northfield, midway through the second round (3:13). In his second match, he grinded out a 1-0 win over regional champ Andrew Lockwood. After being pinned in by eventual champion, New Haven senior, Jacob Saylor in 3:34 in his semifinal match, he came back to win the battle for third by pinning Marion’s JaKwan Williams in 3:30 of the second round.
Randolph County’s other four wrestlers – Winchester’s Brayden Jenkins, Reed Brandenburg and Maddox Rose, along with Monroe Central’s Jonah Jones – all had their seasons end with a loss in the first round. Jenkins is the only senior among them.
“I felt confident about both Hunter and Jonah winning their first match and getting to the state finals,” Monroe Central coach Anthony Richardson said. “One of the things I always tell our kids is that if you want to do it, you have to believe you can do it. Our guys believed they could do it.”
Page is following in the footsteps of Monroe Central’s Logan Swallow, who advanced to the state finals in each of the past two seasons. His appearance in the state finals marks the third year in a row that a Bear wrestler has reached the state finals.
He is the fourth Monroe Central overall to qualify for the state meet, joining Swallow, Calvin Combs and Brett Hodson. He is the first Monroe Central sophomore to qualify for the state meet.
Randolph County’s four other hopefuls at the semi-state had their road come to an end in the first round of the semi-state.
At 195 lbs., Winchester’s Brayden Jenkins lost his first match by a 9-4 decision to Keaton Grider of Fort Wayne Southside, a senior. Jenkins finished the season at 25-3.
Grider advanced and lost a 2-1 decision to Kokomo freshman Chad Washburn, who finished fourth overall at 195 lbs.
Both Jonah Jones of Monroe Central and Reed Brandenburg of Winchester were eliminated in the first round at 152 lbs. Jones lost a 12-6 decision to Rochester senior Wade Shaffer (20-7). Shaffer would go on to lose a 9-5 decision to Garrett freshman Chase Leech, who finished fourth overal. Jones finishes his junior year at 30-6.
Brandenburg, just a Falcon sophomore, was pinned in 4:46 of the third period by Eastern’s (Greentown) Tallan Morrisett. Morrisett lost his next match by a 9-3 decision to Evan Ulrich of Fort Wayne Carroll, who went on to finish runner-up in the 152 lbs. weight class. Brandenburg finishes the season 23-9.
At 170 lbs. Winchester junior Maddox Rose had a tall order in his first match and wound up losing by an 18-2 technical fall to Jacob Kreager of Fort Wayne Snider. Kreager muscled his way to become champion of the weight class. Rose finishes the season at 23-10.
Page vs. Kwiatkowski
Kwiatkowski is returning to the state finals for the third year in a row. As a sophomore he was beaten in Friday’s first round by a 12-4 major decision at 170 lbs. Last year he was also beaten in the first round by a 16-5 major decision. Both of the wrestlers he faced lost their next matches.
Kwiatkowski finished second at the LaPorte Sectional, second at the Crown Point Regional and second at the East Chicago Semi-State, so he is very beatable, especially for someone of Hunter’s calibre.
If Hunter wins his first match, there is a strong likelihood that he will face Gabriel Sollars, an Evansville Mater Dei junior who is unbeaten at 26-0. Sollars was seventh in the state finals last year at 170.
Coach Andy Richardson strongly believes Hunter can be a place winner at this year’s state finals.
“I don’t worry about the wins, I worry about character, because if you have great character, the wins are going to come to you. And Hunter has great character.”