Ryan Hammond wasn’t going to let a little discomfort end his final season of high school wrestling.
With 41.5 seconds left in the third round, the Whiteland senior felt pain in his left shoulder, which caused a brief delay in the championship match at 220 pounds.
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Hammond returned to the mat and finished what he started. His 6-3 victory against Brownsburg junior Lawson Aiken at the Mooresville regional on Saturday was the last of four individual titles by Johnson County athletes.
Overall, 12 local wrestlers will be represented at the Evansville Reitz semistate on Saturday. Among them will be undefeated seniors Hammond (35-0) and Center Grove 160-pounder Gleason Mappes (39-0).
“It was just shoulder pain. But I think it kind of pushed me more,” said Hammond, who is trying to get back to the state finals after making it there as a freshman at 182 pounds. “The big thing is working on conditioning. I didn’t really attack a lot today, so I’ve been working on that. Pushing the tempo.”
Center Grove finished third in the team standings behind three-time defending state champion Brownsburg and the Bulldogs’ arch-rival, Avon. The Trojans’ first-place performers were Mappes, Alex Petro (113) and Shane Stits (195). Others moving on are Peyton Pruett (145, second) and Jonah Hays (170, fourth).
Petro recorded pins in his first two matches and defeated Avon freshman Tyler Conley in the final, 3-2.
“I’ve never really changed my motivation. I just focus on one goal because there’s a bigger prize to win than just today,” Petro said after running his record to 35-4. “I would take away a million regional championships for one state championship.
“I liked the way I wrestled today because of my consistency. I didn’t make that many mistakes. I made some, but nothing that could hurt me in the long run.”
Greenwood, which placed seventh overall with 36 points, qualified three for semistate. Senior Jacob Schrader came in second at 152 pounds, while Keeghan Overton and Nick Willman were third at 113 and 170, respectively.
Schrader lost to undefeated and University of Minnesota-bound Brayton Lee of Brownsburg in championship match, but feels the experience will benefit him moving forward. Lee, after all, is ranked No. 1 in the state at 152 having previously won state championships at 145 and 138.
“Last year I only made it to the third-place match (at regional), so making it to second gives me a real good setup for next week, so hopefully I can make it downtown,” said Schrader, referring to the finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“I had never wrestled Brayton Lee, but everyone knows him. It’s a good experience to have so that you can gauge yourself against him. A few things I learned are intensity is key and the mindset is very important. A lot of guys want to be a champion, but it’s guys like (Lee) and others who set themselves apart by having that mindset.”
Along with Hammond, Whiteland qualified senior Garrett Curtis in the 285-pound weight class. Franklin freshmen Jake Bechert (106) and Tyler Fuqua (120) are headed to semistate, both fourth-place finishers at regional.
4 Braves Evansville-bound
Indian Creek finished the Bloomington South regional with three individual runner-ups and advanced four wrestlers to the Evansville Semistate.
Sophomore Owen Sego (132), junior Gabe Pitzulo (145) and senior Grant Goforth (195) made it to the title match in the their respective weight classes. Braves senior Brad Trietsch finished fourth at 138 pounds.
Rebels advance 11
Roncalli scored 151 points as a team to finish second to the host Falcons at the Perry Meridian regional.
The Rebels qualified 11 wrestlers for the New Castle semistate, including champions at 113 pounds (Brayden Lowery), 126 (Alec Viduya) and 195 (Sam Hansen). Junior John Harris was runner-up in the 220 class, while the other seven qualifiers all took third.