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Top-ranked Franklin sending 11 to semistate

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Living up to its No. 1 ranking, the Franklin Community High School wrestling team picked up another postseason title and exacted a little revenge in the process.

One week after winning the Mooresville Sectional, the Grizzly Cubs won Saturday’s Mooresville Regional, crowning three individual champions and advancing 11 wrestlers to the Evansville Semistate.

Franklin’s 11 semistate qualifiers are a team record. The previous mark was eight.

County rivals Center Grove and Greenwood advanced three wrestlers each, while Indian Creek had one qualifier.

Franklin won the team title with a score of 167.5. Avon was second with 133, followed by Mooresville (70), Ben Davis took (65) and last year’s champion, Danville (58).

Franklin’s individual champions were seniors D.J. Smith, No. 1 ranked at 113 pounds; Skyler Lykins, No. 2 in the state at 138; and No. 3 and undefeated Connor Tolley at 220. Senior Bailey Schober (145) of Greenwood was the county’s only other champion.

“While I’m not happy we didn’t win all our finals, I am happy with how we wrestled,” Franklin coach Bob Hasseman said. “But we did well in our (consolation) matches, and that made up for some tough matches. It’s great to win, and to take 11 wrestlers to semistate breaks our previous best.

“It’s amazing we have that many going, and I’ve had some really good teams in the past.”

Smith (31-1) had little trouble winning his second regional title using his “submarine” style of wrestling to his advantage with an 8-3 win against 15th-ranked Brian Rassbach of Avon. Smith’s technique, in which he stays close to the mat with a knee touching it, gives his opponents few opportunities to score.

“It’s a different style, but I like it, and it’s not only good defensively but it does help me offensively, too,” Smith said. “(They) don’t really have a chance to shoot, and I can score from it as well.”

Smith’s teammate Lykins (32-1), for the second straight week, won his title without having to face an opponent. Center Grove senior Tyler Fleener (15-4), who is ranked No. 4, would have likely been Lykins’ opponent. But Fleener injured himself in last week’s sectionals and injury defaulted to Lykins in the finals. After that, Trojans’ coach Cale Hoover said the plan would be to injury default again should Fleener make it to the finals to ensure he would have more time to heal for the semistate.

Schober’s win was nearly identical to his overtime win last week in the finals.

Schober scored an overtime victory to win the sectional, and it appeared his match with Cascade’s No. 15 Zach Batts would also get extended, but Schober secured a takedown with six seconds left to win 4-1.

“He likes to make things exciting,” Greenwood coach Mike Campbell said. “He knew what he had to do at the right time.”

Schober (37-1) admitted he knew there wasn’t much time left in regulation, and that if he wanted to win, he had better do it soon.

“I didn’t want to go into overtime again,” Schober said. “I really prefer to dominate an opponent and win big, but I don’t think that’s going to happen now because the wrestlers that get this far are all good.”

Franklin’s final champion, Tolley (33-0) made short work of freshman Gunnar Larson of Avon in an 11-4 decision. Larson couldn’t figure out the methodical and aggressive Tolley.

Tolley also extended his streak of not surrendering a takedown and had high praise for his teammates.

“It was a good match,” Tolley said. “I paced myself and tried to work my takedowns. It feels good, but it’s better to have the team break so many records this year.

“This has been very exciting, and honestly I would rather move on as a team than as an individual.”

Despite the Cubs’ record number of semistate qualifiers, they had a few disappointments.

Sophomore heavyweight Quinn York, ranked No. 10, was upset in the first round and eliminated. Also, the Cubs lost four finals, including some big upsets as No. 3 and previously unbeaten Jacob Stevenson was defeated by Ben Davis’ sixth-ranked Dylan Lydy, 6-5, and No. 6 Michael Petrole was beaten by Avon’s No. 12 Evan Elmore in overtime, 2-1. Both will, however, advance to the semistate.

Other Johnson County wrestlers heading to Evansville will be Franklin’s Trevor Reese (106), Shane Wilkerson (120), Peyton Reese (126), Burk Van Horn (145), Matt Wyrick (160) and Jacob Brownfield (195).

Greenwood also will send freshman Jacob Skaggs (113) and senior Jon Schrader (170). Center Grove has sophomores Nick Spencer (120) and Anthony Williams (132) while Indian Creek’s lone representative is sophomore Elijah Dunn at 145.

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