In his 31st season as Franklin Community High School’s wrestling coach, Bob Hasseman knows his way around a Mid-State Conference meet.
He knows what it’s like to win them, too.
On Saturday, six Grizzly Cubs were crowned individual champions as host Franklin produced 220 points, holding off runner-up Plainfield (207) and third-place Mooresville (187).
Afterward, Hasseman couldn’t pin down a specific number of seasons his program has enjoyed Mid-State supremacy.
Just know it’s a lot.
“This is 18, I think. Seventeen or 18,” Hasseman said. “The Mid-State has good wrestling. Always has. So I’m real pleased with the way the kids got challenged.
“Another thing is we had to run (the meet), and it’s always easier when you don’t run it. But we have a good facility. I’ve probably run 10 Mid-State Conference (meets), but this was the first one in this gym. Earlier ones were in our fieldhouse.”
Franklin was represented in seven of the 14 championship matches; at least one Johnson County wrestler, including Whiteland and Greenwood, would take the mat for the title in a total of 12 finals.
Twice local competitors squared off in the title match.
At 132 pounds in one of the day’s best matches, Franklin’s Ethan Nash rallied to score a 6-5 decision over Cole Hughes of Whiteland. Grizzly Cubs’ senior Jake Moore defeated Greenwood senior A.J. Montgomery in the final of 182 pounds.
“We’ve wrestled against each other a lot,” Moore said. “Actually, I went to Greenwood in middle school, but I don’t really think of anybody as a friend when we’re on the mat. I just went out there and did what I had to do to get it done.”
Cubs’ senior Burk Van Horn demonstrated why he’s the state’s No. 1 ranked wrestler at 170 pounds, defeating Ethan Runyan of Martinsville in convincing fashion in the final, 19-4.
Franklin’s other champions were freshman Drew Hargis at 106 pounds, senior Trevor Reese at 145 and junior Manny Cheam at 220.
“It’s pretty cool to win. It’s cool that they dim the lights and make a state tournament-type feel to it,” Hargis said. “This was my first time wrestling (Plainfield’s Carter Thornhill). I just wanted to be aggressive, and it worked.”
Whiteland, which finished fourth in the team standings with 154 points, finished with two individual titlists — freshman Deven Williams at 126 pounds and junior Ryan Hammond at 195.
Williams, who prevailed 10-3 in his championship match against Jadon Galvin of Decatur Central despite twice having the match stopped due to a bloody nose, said nerves weren’t a factor in what was his Mid-State debut.
“I’ve wrestled for like eight years. High school is just a lot harder than middle school,” Williams said. “This was the first nosebleed I’ve had in two years. But it gives me a little bit of a break.”
Greenwood finished with two champions of its own in 138-pounder Jacob Schrader and Nick Willham at 152. The Woodmen as a team came in fifth with 136 points.
Saturday was the first time this season Schrader competed at 138.
“I started out the season at 145, so I knew coming down to 138 was going to be hard,” Schrader said. “I moved down to get some better chances at getting downtown (for State Finals). It was different from wrestling 145, but I think it was definitely the right move.”
The majority of the local wrestling programs start their postseason Jan. 28 at the Mooresville Sectional. Looking at the big picture is common this time of year, according to Greenwood coach Jay Yates.
“Overall, I think our guys wrestled pretty well. Hopefully we can build on this, and we should have some really good seeds for sectional,” Yates said. “Schrader was a 1 seed, so it was good for him to come in and be solid on the two matches he wrestled today.
“Nick coming in here as a 1 seed and backing it up is a great tournament for him. A.J. (Montgomery) came in as a third seed (at 182) and placed above that by getting in the finals.”