Panthers sneak by East for 1st place

JEFFERSONVILLE — The Columbus East and Jennings County wrestling teams have battled back and forth throughout this season. Saturday’s Jeffersonville regional was no exception.

A week after the Olympians captured the sectional, Jennings County claimed the regional title with 170 points, 15 more than East. The Panthers had five individual champions to East’s four.

Even though they came up short of a regional crown, East coach Chris Cooper was pleased with his team’s results across the board.

“We had nine guys qualify for semistate and we put seven guys in the finals today,” Cooper said. “All in all, that is pretty solid. Jennings County just beat us today. They wrestled better than we did today — that’s the bottom line. We could have won a couple more matches here or there, but I do not think that would have mattered.”

The Olympians picked up individual championships from Cayden Rooks, who was once again dominant in the 106-pound weight class. Graham Rooks was champion at 120 with an 8-0 victory against Columbus North’s Isaiah Peetz. Dawson Combest claimed the 126-pound title, and Sean Galligar claimed the heavyweight division crown after hard fought 4-2 decision over Jennings County’s Brendan Sutton.

Galligar, a senior who was one win shy of qualifying for state last year, put in a lot of hard work over the summer in hopes of getting over the hump.

“I lost about 20 pounds, and that really gave me more speed and quickness and that has given me an edge,” Galligar said. “This time, I hope to win the semistate in order to get a good seed at state.”

Other Olympians that qualified for Saturday’s Evansville semistate include Jake Schoenegge (113 pounds), Corban Pollitt (132), Ben Wilkerson (152), Austin Wilson (160) and Coy Park (170).

Jennings County’s Dalton Craig enacted revenge at 113. After getting beat by East’s Schoenegge in the sectional, Craig prevailed over Schoenegge in the final seconds of the regional title match, claiming a 3-2 decision.

The same would be said for Brooks Wathen, who bested Seymour’s Garrett Johnson with a 3-1 decision at 138. Johnson had defeated Wathen at the sectional.

“It was a pretty even match, but I rushed a takedown only to be taken down myself,” Johnson said. “I shouldn’t have done that, but it is what it is. We’ll see how the draw comes out and hopefully I can get to state.”

The Panthers also got individual championships from Andrew Herrin (152), Cole Chandler (160) and Christian Redmond (195).

Victor Antunez (106), Nick South (126), Zane Beineke (145) and Sutton (285) also advanced to semistate.

North will be sending four wrestlers to Evansville. Peetz (120), Alex Davidson (145), Brigham Kleinhenz (152) and Andrew Chapman (160), who was defeated by Chandler in the championship match.

Along with Johnson, Seymour will also have Brandon Penegar, who qualified at 120, advancing to the semistate.

Bristen Dial claimed the championship at 182 pounds for Brown County. Andrew Gardner lost his opening-round match to Jeffersonville’s Nathan Long, 7-6. Evan Bullock, who was scheduled to wrestle at 132, did not make weight and was scratched.

This is Dial’s first appearance in the semistate, but he still has bigger goals in mind.

“It’s really hard to describe right now,” Dial said. “I definitely want to get to state, and next week will be a huge stepping stone for me.”