East wrestlers have sights on state team title

All season long, Columbus East has had a goal of winning a state wrestling team championship.

That goal hasn’t changed in the weeks leading up to this weekend’s state tournament, and if anything, the Olympians are even more optimistic about their chances following last week’s semistate round.

“Definitely our goal is to win a team state title,” said East coach Chris Cooper, who was named Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association Coach of the Year earlier this week. “If we can bring the same intensity we had last Saturday and the same focus in those big-time matches, we definitely have a shot.”

The fourth-ranked Olympians qualified eight wrestlers to the state finals, which begin Friday and conclude Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. That is third-most only to third-ranked Cathedral, which has 10 state qualifiers, and No. 2 Portage, which has nine. No. 1 Brownsburg has seven qualifiers.

East came close to upsetting Brownsburg in Saturday’s Evansville Semistate, falling just six points short of its first semistate title.

“We were right there close to (Brownsburg),” Cooper said. “We just have to find a way to get a few more points. If you add in Portage and Indianapolis Cathedral, as well, between those four teams is what it’s going to come down to.”

Among the eight Olympians competing this weekend, five have strong chances at competing for individual titles. Junior Cayden Rooks, the defending champion at 120 pounds, is ranked No. 2 at 126, and senior Graham Rooks is No. 1 at 132. Senior Dawson Combest is ranked No. 3 at 138, junior Jake Schoenegge is No. 6 at 145 and junior Nick South is No. 5 at 160.

Also wrestling for East will be Corban Pollitt (152), Andy Davidson (170) and Jacob Bolte (220). Columbus North’s 14th-ranked Brigham Kleinhenz joins Davidson in the 170-pound bracket.

The first round begins at 6 p.m. Friday. Quarterfinals start at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by semifinals. Third-, fifth- and seventh-place matches begin at 5 p.m. Saturday, followed by championship bouts at 7:30 p.m.

Olympians make 9-10 state

Eight Columbus East wrestlers have qualified for the Freshman-Sophomore state meet, which will be Feb. 24-25 at Southport High School.

Nate John (106), Joey Gordon (120) and Noah White (182) earned berths in the meet by making it to the semistate in the IHSAA tournament. Sam Morrill (138), Jacob Shaver (145), Aaron Cepeda (160), Thomas Key (195) and Luis Cruz (220), all of which were junior varsity wrestlers during the season, qualified at Sunday’s Last Chance meet in Evansville.

Swimmers set for sectional

Columbus North boys swimmers are seeded first in three events going into the North Sectional, which begins with prelims tonight and concludes with diving prelims and finals and swimming consolations and finals on Saturday.

Evan Patterson is the top seed in the 200-yard freestyle, as is Thomas Goble in the 50 freestyle. The Bull Frogs are seeded first in the 200 freestyle relay.

North’s Jared Carroll is seeded second in the 100 butterfly and third in the 100 backstroke, and Sam Russell is second in the 200 individual medley and fourth in the 100 butterfly. The Bull Frogs are second in the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays, and Nick Green is third in the 500 freestyle.

Columbus East’s top seed is Ryan Singer, who is fourth in the 100 breaststroke.

Locals make Academic All-State

Thirteen area seniors have been selected to this year’s Indiana Football Coaches Association Academic All-State team.

Columbus East has eight players on the team — Klayton Brummett, Charlie Burton, Zach Clark, Josh Major, Cole McCarter, Caleb Pettit, Mark Sciutto and Ethan Summa. They are joined by Columbus North’s Logan Abbott, Kamran Ahmad, Kleinhenz and Drew Wilson and Edinburgh’s Tavian Cosby.

Hauser to host dinner, donkeys

The Hauser booster club will host a steak supper as a fundraiser from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Saturday in the school’s auditorium. To-go orders will be available.

Donkey Basketball will make its return to Hauser on Feb. 24. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., and action begins at 6:30 p.m. Advance tickets are available in the Hauser front office for $6, and tickets at the door are $8.

Boys tourney draw scheduled

The IHSAA boys basketball tournament draw will take place at 5 p.m. Sunday.

The two-hour show will be livestreamed on IHSAAtv.org and broadcast on IHSAA Champions Network radio affiliates.

Sectional action begins on Feb. 27.

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.