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Jennings Sunday: Mat leadership

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DURING the Jennings County wrestling team’s recent home meet against Seymour, a quintet of seniors were honored for their contributions on and off the mat.

Coach Howard Jones and his staff saluted Gary Engelking, Connor Montgomery, Marshall Holwager, first-year wrestler Jonathan Pettit and scorekeeper-manager captain Monique Wilde.

“They have dedicated countless hours to our wrestling program,” Jones said. “They have been the heart and soul of Jennings County wrestling.

“They have worked with the elementary wrestlers in our youth program. They have raised the standards of Jennings County wrestling in the future. I’m proud of them.”

Even though Wilde didn’t wrestle for Jones, she has been a part of the team’s success as a manager and scorekeeper.

“She’s been one of our most valuable assets in her four years as a scorekeeper and a manager,” Jones said. “She’s one of the hardest-working young people I’ve ever been associated with.”

Pettit, who wrestles at 160 pounds, impressed Jones because of his work ethic and his eagerness to learn the craft of wrestling.

“Pettit’s been a great addition this season,” Jones said. “He’d never wrestled before, and he has brought a tremendous work ethic to the mat, and he has worked extra hard in the classroom. The effort he puts forward is inspirational.”

After Christmas break, Jones and his assistants named Colton Castetter and Holwager as co-   captains. According to Jones, Castetter is one of the hardest-working wrestlers the Panthers and have had and he has emerged this season as a quiet, confident team leader.

During the varsity careers of the three four-year seniors, the Panthers have won 92 of 100 dual meets. The trio of senior captains also have fared well as individuals during their careers. Engelking has won 27 of 31 matches at 120 pounds. Holwager has won 32 of 36 matches wrestling at 126.

Montgomery is 17-4 in the 138-pound class. Together, the seniors have won more than 90 individual matches prior to the sectional. Engelking and Holwager each have more than 125 career wins.

All three have won sectional titles and have qualified for the semistate each of the past three seasons.

“It is always hard to replace the qualities that the seniors have given our program,” Jones said. “Because of their leadership, though, those qualities will be passed down to others.”

He said the seniors’ leadership enabled the Panthers to finish 20-2 in their dual meets and come within half a point of defeating Columbus East for second place in the Hoosier Hills Conference Championships.

Before Saturday’s sectional, Jones expected his team to host a competitive contest at Hurley Gym.

“The nine other teams in our sectional will be a major obstacle for us to overcome,” he said.

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