For various reasons, the Center Grove wrestling team has yet to put its best lineup on the mat.
An extra long football season, illnesses and injuries all have conspired against the Trojans, who expect to finally be at full strength by the weekend.
If it happens, the timing couldn’t be better. On Saturday, the Trojans are bidding to repeat as champions of the Mooresville Sectional — an objective that will be easier, albeit not easy, if their best wrestlers are competing.
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“Our hope is that we get the 14 guys out there that we’ve hoped to get on the mat all year,” Center Grove coach Cale Hoover said. “We have not put on the mat one time what we thought was our best lineup, or strongest lineup.
“If everything goes well the rest of the week, we should have that lineup in place on Saturday.”
If the Trojans are able to field that lineup, they like their chances of a successful defense in what appears to be a wider than normal field.
In previous years, Franklin and Center Grove — Franklin, in particular — have dominated the sectional. But based on seedings, no one in the 10-team field has a clear advantage, in terms of No. 1 seeds.
Among local teams, Center Grove, Franklin and Indian Creek have two No. 1 seeds each. But the Trojans might have a bit of an edge at the top of the brackets with 10 wrestlers seeded third or higher.
“We feel pretty good about where things are,” Hoover said. “We feel like we have a lot of really good opportunities to get guys in the finals, which is really important leading into regional week.”
Senior Rhett Mappes, who is 21-10 at 182 pounds for Center Grove, echoes the optimism.
“We all have a pretty good idea of what we want to do. We have a pretty experienced team,” Mappes said. “We have a lot of older guys in the lineup, a lot of guys who have been there before. I think everybody’s pretty confident heading in.
“Everybody has a really good chance to move onto the (regional) round.”
Although seedings reflect an edge for Center Grove, they guarantee nothing. The Trojans understand that. So does their chief rival, Franklin.
Winners of five sectional championships the past nine years, the traditional state power Grizzly Cubs like their chances reclaiming the title they relinquished last season.
Franklin has two No. 1 seeds in senior heavyweight Quinn York and junior 138-pounder Trevor Reese, and three No. 2 seeds in junior No. 2 seed Burk Van Horn (160), senior Shane Wilkerson (140) and junior Dominic Alvey (195).
York and Wilkerson are defending sectional champions.
“Center Grove is probably in the driver’s seat based on seeds, but it’s really spread out more this time than it has been in a long time,” Franklin coach Bob Hasseman said. “I think it’s going to come down to who shows up Saturday, who knocks off who and how many can you get through to score points.
“I’m going in figuring to win it. How can we get it done? That’s what I talk to the team about.”
Among local teams, Indian Creek has No. 1 seeds in senior Elijah Dunn (152) and freshman Alex Mosconi (113). Dunn is a defending sectional champion, and Mosconi is unbeaten at 27-0.
Mosconi’s older brother, sophomore Tony Mosconi, is seeded No. 2 at 126 pounds and is a defending sectional champion. Sophomore Grant Goforth is seeded No. 2 for the Braves at 182.
Center Grove’s top seeds are junior David Roth at 132 pounds and junior Logan Coyle at 135. The Trojans’ No. 2 seeds are sophomore senior Zak Siddiqui (120), sophomore Jonah Hays (170) and freshman Alex Petro (106).
“You look at probably Franklin and us being kind of in the driver’s seat, but paper (seeding) doesn’t mean anything. There’s a lot of parity,” Hoover said. “There’s a lot of really good kids, so even if you have a team that might not be as strong, there are some people on each team that are going to make some noise, so that can affect the team race.
“You can’t have a slip up here or there.”
Apart from the obvious goal of reclaiming their team championship, the Trojans have a secondary mission in mind: produce individual champions.
Improbably, they won the 2014 team title without a single individual title winner.
“Last year was probably the most complete team effort we could have possibly had with no champions,” Mappes said. “But I think this year we’ve got some guys in some good spots to where we probably should snag a few championships and send even more people than we did last year to regionals.”
What: Mooresville Sectional
When: 9 a.m. Saturday
Teams: Center Grove, Franklin, Greenwood, Indian Creek, Whiteland, Decatur Central, Martinsville, Monrovia, Mooresville and Plainfield
Advancement: The top four place winners in each weight class advance to the regional tournament.