NORTH VERNON — If Jennings County wrestling coach Howard Jones wanted to find out how his second-line wrestlers would respond to adversity, he picked the perfect opponent Tuesday night in visiting Batesville.
There was lots of adversity to go around.
The Bulldogs came into the match 5-0, and with Jones deciding not to go with his varsity lineup, they emerged with a 44-25 victory against the Panthers.
Meanwhile, the Panthers fell to 0-1 in their opening dual match of the season. The victors for Jennings County were 113-pounder Tyler Schaefer by forfeit; 132-pounder Lane Luhn, who scored an 11-1 victory against Derek Davidson; 138-pounder John Flynn, who pinned Batesville’s Zach Mears at 1:33 of the third period; 152-pounder Tyler Wilkins, who edged Neal Nobbe 2-1; and 220-pounder Chance Ahlbrand, who pinned the Bulldogs’ Zach Strub at the 1:43 mark of the second period.
The rest of the lineup took its lumps with Batesville registering five pins, a 16-3 decision and a 6-2 win.
Among Jennings County’s seven wrestlers who lost were six freshmen.
“The better competition you face, the better you will be,” said Jones, who has coached wrestling at Jennings County for 35 years. “We film these matches, and we will look back and show them what they did wrong. You have to learn from your mistakes.
“Facing this kind of competition creates toughness. In life, you have to take your knocks. It’s when you don’t get back up ... that’s when there is a problem.”
Even the Jennings County wrestlers who lost had some good moments. Peyton Shepherd, a 160-pound freshman scored a takedown in the first period against Batesville’s Matthew Linkel. However, after Linkel escaped, Shepherd went for the same takedown with a weak shot and got pancaked. Linkel scored five points on the move to take the lead.
In the second period, Shepherd had the same thing happen to him, and eventually Linkel scored a pin with 37 seconds remaining in the second period.
At 170, Batesville’s Will Amberger pinned Ethan Chandler in the third period.
The Bulldogs’ Daniel Howard followed with a second-period pin of the Panthers’ Peyton Gerkin. Gerkin almost pulled the upset in the first period when he reversed Howard and put him to his back, narrowly missing a pin as the buzzer sounded to end the first period. Howard assumed control from there.
At 195, Jennings County’s Christian Redmond made some nice moves, taking down Jarrett Hooten with a bear hub right to his back in the opening 30 seconds. However, Redmond made a major mistake in the second period by stepping over the whizzer, a cardinal sin in wrestling. A close match turned into a pin for Hooten.
Ahlbrand dominated Stub at 220 to score Jennings County’s first victory of the night. That closed the team score to 24-6.
Then Jennings County’s 106-pounder, Jake Hammond, wrestled a tough match against unbeaten Bulldog John Moody before dropping a 6-2 decision.
The Panthers’ Logan Applegate was no match for the more experienced Ben Westerfield, who notched a 16-3 win at 126.
Luhn and Flynn then dominated their opponents before Batesville’s Cody Haakinson won by pin against West Fergason at 145.
Tyler Wilkins closed the match with an exciting 2-1 victory in which he shut out Nobbe until the final 15 seconds, then held Nobbe off to score the victory.