SEYMOUR — Jimmy Fisher wasn’t focused on strategy in the finals of the 170-pound division of Saturday’s Hoosier Hills Conference wrestling tournament at Seymour.
The Columbus East junior just had the right mindset from the get-go, and that led him to his first HHC title after placing fourth the year before.
“I didn’t really have much of a strategy,” Fisher said. “I just had it in my mind I was going to win from the time the meet started, and I was ready to fight. Before the match started, I was just ready to fight.”
Fisher won his first-round match by pin in 3:35, and he scored a 15-0 tech fall in the second round. In the finals against Floyd Central’s Ian Bagwell, Fisher led 4-1 after the first period, scored a takedown in the second period and finished with a win by major decision, 15-3.
“I developed that takedown this year, actually not too long ago, and it seems to be working pretty good,” Fisher said.
Building a lead early, he added, “gives you more confidence, and it wears on the opponent, too, whenever you’re winning and then you make it even worse. It’s really a good time to rack up bonus points and help the team out.”
In the team standings, the Olympians clipped Jennings County 189.5-189 for second place out of eight teams. Floyd Central racked up 272 points for the title. Host Seymour placed seventh with 96 points.
Fisher, who improved to 20-4 on the season, was one of six Olympians in the finals. Jake Martindale (113), Dalton Noblitt (126), Mitch Gilbert (132), Mike Wayant (145) and Kyle Stillinger (152) all placed second.
“Jimmy Fisher wrestled outstanding,” Olympians coach Chris Cooper said. “He got there in the finals, and we had a talk about if you want to win the meet, you’ve got to get out and get it done. (Bagwell) was the kid he beat 4-0 last time, and (Fisher) almost got a tech fall there at the end ... At one point, he just decided he was really going to turn it up, and getting a couple of those near falls and running those takedowns trying to get a tech fall and get those extra team points was big.”
As for his other finalists, Cooper said, “The bottom line is, I thought they were just out there kind of wrestling a match instead of looking at it as a fight. Our toughness level, including the dual against Columbus North this week, was just not there, and you can’t beat high-level kids if you’re getting outworked on the mat.”
Jennings County wrestlers reaching the finals were Gary Engelking (120), Gabe Wilson (160), Dakota Bott (182) and Colton Castetter (220). Engelking lost by major decision, Wilson and Bott lost by decisions and Castetter was pinned.
“I thought Gary Engelking wrestled well. He wrestled a very smart match against a kid that had beaten him earlier in the year,” Panthers coach Howard Jones said. “Gabe Wilson at 160 wrestled well except in the finals. The one that I’m really pleased with is Colton Castetter. The kid from Seymour (Tyler Loud) had beaten him (earlier in the season), and we came back and beat him today, and that’s just a great accomplishment.”
Jennings County was short three wrestlers, and Jones was able to fill two of those spots.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we wrestled well all day. We performed well,” Jones said. “We did a good job all the way up and down no matter what the score came out.”
Seymour’s lone finalist was Adam Wolka at 285. He won by pin in the first round, 3-2 decision in overtime in the second round and then lost a 3-2 decision to Jeffersonville’s Gavan Jolley-Little in the finals.
“You hate to lose a close one in the finals, but (Jolley-Little) is a good kid, a solid kid, and we’ll see him again in regional. We’ll be game-planning what we can do to get past there,” Owls coach Curt Schleibaum said. “(Wolka) beat some good competition. He beat the kid from East (Rob McKee) who had beat us before, which shows that we’re improving. I think he wrestled well throughout the whole day just to get to the finals.”
North 5th at Conference Indiana
BLOOMINGTON — Columbus North finished fifth in the Conference Indiana meet Saturday at Bloomington North High School.
Two-time defending state champ Perry Meridian won the meet with 288 points. Bloomington South was second at 250 followed by Franklin Central (172.5), Lawrence Central (143), Columbus North (116), Southport (79), Pike (70) and Bloomington North (66).
“I thought we could’ve finished fourth,” Bull Dogs coach Nick Skinner said. “I thought we were good enough to edge out Lawrence Central. We had a rough first couple of rounds, and didn’t have any pleasant surprises today.”
North’s top individual finishes were fourth place by Evan Speaker (106), Cody Speaker (120), Armondo Cordova (170) and Kenny King (285).
“My day started out rough but then it went fine,” King said. “This is my first time wrestling in the conference meet so I feel good about my performance. I feel strong going into sectionals.”
“Cody Speaker closed the gap on Bloomington North’s Jeremy Arthur today,” Skinner said. “Arthur’s a top wrestler. Cody had two rough loses to him this season and only lost 4-3 today.”
“My day started off well with a pin and then a forfeit win,” Cody Speaker said. “Then I lost to Perry Meridian’s Aidan Kenny, who won conference today. I had some tough matches and kept wrestling hard.”
Perry Meridian had seven individual winners in the meet. “There’s a reason Perry Meridian has won two straight state titles,” Evan Speaker said. “They’re always tough.”
North will next enter sectional action Jan. 26 at Jennings County. “I think we’re sitting two or three going into sectionals,” Skinner said. “It depends on injuries. We were without Chase Johnson today. Hopefully everybody’s healthy.”