NORTH VERNON — Chris Cooper has built a formidable wrestling program at Columbus East, but the Olympians did something Saturday that they had never done during his tenure.
East wrestlers advanced to Saturday’s Jeffersonville Regional in all 14 weight classes with top-four finishes in the Jennings County Sectional. Led by six champions, the Olympians defended their title with 260 points to 199 1/2 for the runner-up and host Panthers.
“It’s something that we talked about all week — that we had the potential to send all 14 guys through,” Cooper said. “We knew it was going to be close in several weights, but the kids bought in, they trust the coaching and they work hard to achieve things as a team.”
Four of East wins came in consecutive fashion from the 120- through 138-pound classes. Cayden Rooks won a 17-1 technical fall over Greensburg’s Lane Wells at 120; Graham Rooks pinned Jennings’ Dalton Craig in 3 minutes, 50 seconds at 126; Dawson Combest won a 25-10 technical fall over Seymour’s David Shuffitt at 132 and Jake Schoenegge pinned Seymour’s Brandon Penegar in 1:26 at 138.
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Schoenegge, who won his quarterfinal match by forfeit, also had a quick pin in the semifinals, felling Greensburg’s Eric Lowe in only 33 seconds.
“It’s just an honor to serve my team and for everyone to have a successful day and for us to win that championship,” Schoenegge said. “I think the team did amazing, and we need to carry it over to next week and win regional.”
The Olympians’ other victories came at 152, where Andy Davidson won a 13-2 major decision against Seymour’s Zack Newton; and 220, where Austin Sheckles decisioned Seymour’s Dalton Miller 4-1.
Corban Pollitt came close at 145, dropping a 3-1 decision to Jennings’ Brooks Wathen to finish second. Also taking second for East was Hunter Dickmeyer, who was pinned by Columbus North’s Andrew Chapman in 3:25 at 170.
Finishing third for the Olympians were Joey Gordon (113), Lane Goode (182) and Jacob Bolte (195). Jeremy Clark (106), Brendan Stadtmiller (160) and Dalton Anderson (285) placed fourth.
“I tell them all the time they’re not defined by their record,” Cooper said. “They took losses early in the year and have worked to get better.”
Jennings and North each had three champions. The Panthers were led by wins from Victor Antunez, who pinned Greensburg’s Camden Rose in 1:06 at 113; Wathen at 145; and Zane Beineke, who pinned Greensburg’s Jesse Hunter in 1:49 at 160.
Craig (126), Sam Woolf (182) and Brendan Sutton (285) all finished second for Jennings. Alex Skelton (170) took third, and James Jump (195) was fourth.
“I’m not happy,” Jennings coach Howard Jones said. “I’m not even satisfied. But we did about as well as we could have done. East has a tough team. We had five freshmen in the lineup today, and I’m pleased with the effort.”
North, which had three champions, finished fifth with 111 points. Following Chapman’s victory at 170, Brigham Kleinhenz beat Woolf 9-2 at 182 and Josh Larson downed Seymour’s Kevin Corrales 8-3 at 195.
Chapman, who won his first two matches by forfeit, also pinned Mark Hedges of Southwestern (Hanover) in 1:29 in the semifinals.
“There was a lot of preparation for this match,” Chapman said. “This week, we worked really hard to just come out and do what we do.”
Two other Bull Dogs advanced to the regional. Morgan Smith finished second at 106 with a 19-4 technical fall loss to Madison’s Camden Spears, and Keandre Watson took fourth at 113.
North’s Will Russell actually came close to pinning Davidson in the quarterfinals at 152, but Davidson escaped and pulled out a 9-6 decision.
“We still left a couple matches out there,” North coach Justin Cooper said. “We could have had a couple more qualifiers. We have to get to work, figure out who we’re wrestling next week and start game planning for those guys.”
Brown County finished eighth with 71 points and advanced four wrestlers to regional. David Tucker (106) and Evan Bullock (145) finished third, and Job Lawson (120) and Bryce Denton (126) took fourth.