Jennings County High School’s wrestling team finished its season last weekend at the state finals, capping a year in which the Panthers achieved a considerable measure of success.
The Panthers went undefeated in all dual meets and won Hoosier Hills Conference, sectional and regional championships.
Sophomore Brendan Sutton (285-pound weight class) and juniors Andrew Herrin (145) and Christian Redmond (195) qualified for the state finals. Herrin and Redmond placed eighth.
Coach Howard Jones said the team showed a lot of progress.
“It went better than I anticipated. The longer the season went on, the better it became,” he said.
“I didn’t have to work too hard to get them prepared. All I had to do was provide the opportunity and they took advantage,” he said.
Seniors Wesley Furgason, Kyle Lewis, Anthony Engleking and Payton Gerkin all finished their high school careers strong and contributed to the team’s success.
Jones had high praise for this team.
“They have been the hardest-working group of young people I have ever been around,” he said.
Sutton also had kind words to say about Jones and the work he has done with the team members.
“Coach Jones is a wonderful man. He is one of the kindest people I have ever met. He keeps us motivated and on track to try our best,” Sutton said.
Dustin Roller, the high school’s interim dean of students, said Jones personifies the belief that anyone can make anything positive happen.
“He is never down and if life gives him lemons, he not only makes lemonade, but he will serve it with a helping of grandma’s cookies. Coach Jones is a great influence on these young adults,” he said.
Panther nation is proud of its wrestling team and next year should be a promising unit. The Panthers were a young team that loses four seniors, yet will return as a deep and experienced team.
“My hopes would be to get a few more people going to state. Maybe five or so and for my own performance to get me to the top five,” Sutton said.