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Vying for ‘team state championship’

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Wrestling coach Bob Hasseman directs his team during practice Monday, Dec. 5, 2011, at the Franklin High School in Franklin, Indiana. PHOTO BY SCOTT  ROBERSON
Wrestling coach Bob Hasseman directs his team during practice Monday, Dec. 5, 2011, at the Franklin High School in Franklin, Indiana. PHOTO BY SCOTT ROBERSON

When the IHSAA discontinued the team wrestling state finals in February, no one was more disappointed than Franklin coach Bob Hasseman.

Now that it has been replaced by a multiclass facsimile, perhaps no one is happier.

A longtime proponent of the team aspect of the sport, Hasseman said he looks forward to leading the eighth-ranked Grizzly Cubs into today’s first Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association State Duals Invitational at Westfield High School.

Created by the coaches association as a quasi replacement for the former single-class team state finals, the new tournament features 24 of the state’s top programs, divided into three classes based on enrollment.

If you go

What: First Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association Team State Duals Championships

When: Today. Round 1, 10 a.m. Round 2, noon. Placement round for third- through eighth-place, 2 p.m. Finals, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Westfield High School, 18250 N. Union St.

Admission: $10

Teams: Class 3 — Bloomington South, Center Grove, Elkhart Memorial, Evansville Mater Dei, Franklin, Cathedral, Penn, Perry Meridian. Class 2A: Culver Academies, Danville, Evansville Memorial, Heritage Hills, Jimtown, Muncie Southside, Southmont, Yorktown. Class A: Adams Central, Bremen, Churubusco, Lewis Cass, Milan, Prairie Heights, South Adams, South Putnam

Class 3A bracket: Round 1, No. 1 seed Perry Meridian vs. Cathedral, No. 3 Franklin vs. Center Grove, No. 2 Bloomington South vs. Evansville Mater Dei, No. 4 Penn vs. Elkhart Memorial. Round 2, Franklin/Center Grove winner vs. Bloomington South/Evansville Mater Dei winner, Perry Meridian/Cathedral winner vs. Penn/Elkhart Memorial winner. Round 3, championship match.

Franklin and Center Grove are among the eight teams in Class 3A, which features the largest schools. The Grizzly Cubs and Trojans will square off in a first-round match, exactly one week after Franklin outpointed Center Grove for the Johnson County Meet championship.

“I think it’s better than the old team state (finals), because the small schools have a chance to participate,” Hasseman said. “I think that’s good.”

Invitations were extended based on last year’s performance at the IHSAA Individual Wrestling State Finals and the number of returning state qualifiers.

The Class 3A field includes No. 1 Perry Meridian, which won last year’s final team state championship, and No. 2 Bloomington South. No. 18 Evansville Mater Dei, Elkhart Memorial, Cathedral and Penn round out the field. Cathedral and Evansville Mater Dei were in the final four last season, with Perry Meridian.

Perry Meridian, Bloomington South, Franklin and Penn are the top four seeds, respectively. The other teams are unseeded.

Hasseman regards the tournament as an invaluable way to prepare for larger postseason goals. Each team is guaranteed three matches.

“It’s a good, high-pressure wrestling (environment) against some really good kids,” Hasseman said. “It will get us ready for down the road. It gives us three quality matches on the day.”

A longtime fan of the IHSAA Team State Finals, Hasseman was not happy to see it discontinued. Franklin qualified seven times during the tournament’s 17-year run, which was hosted annually by Center Grove.

Moving forward, IHSAA team state champions will be determined by the previous format of points tallied at the Individual State Finals.

Hasseman preferred the defunct method.

“It was probably the single-best thing we ever did in wrestling, and our IHSAA got rid of it,” Hasseman said. “It’s a shame, because for the teams that went, it was just awesome.”

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