Sectional wrestling preview: East, North, Jennings have several in position to qualify for regional

The Columbus East wrestlers have won six consecutive Jennings County Sectional titles, and the Olympians have advanced entrants to regional in all 14 weight classes in three of the past five years.

East will look to continue that trend on Saturday when it competes in the Jennings County Sectional. The top four in each weight class qualify for the Feb. 5 Jeffersonville Regional.

“The goal is to get 14 through,” East coach Chris Cooper said. “That’s what we got last year. That’s definitely the plan. A lot of it is setting us up in good position for the regional next week.”

The Olympians have 13 wrestlers seeded to advance, including nine No. 1 seeds. The top seeds are Liam Krueger (113 pounds), Noah Lykins (120), Reece Fisher (138), Tony Ruiz-Tapia (152), Kade Law (160), Tristan Statler (170), Jaden Durnil (182), Tommy Morrill (220) and Ashton Hartwell (285).

Bo Wagner (126), Kenton Wilson (145) and Josh Schrader (195) are No. 2 seeds, and Nate Anderson (132) is a No. 3 seed. Dominic Baker (106) is a No. 5 seed.

Krueger, Lykins, Fisher, Law, Durnil, Schrader and Morrill are defending sectional champions. Ruiz-Tapia was a sectional runner-up, and Anderson and Wagner finished third at last year’s sectional.

Law, who is ranked No. 2 in the state at 160, finished third at state in that weight class last year. Krueger was a state qualifier at 106.

“The main thing is, don’t take anything for granted,” Cooper said. “We tell them all the time that I believe we’re the best team, but you have to prove it every single time we wrestle.”

Meanwhile, Columbus North has enjoyed its best season in several years. The Bull Dogs went 14-5 in dual meets, their first winning record since 2013.

Mike Wolanin | The Republic Columbus North’s Jared Slocum II, top, competes against Seymour’s Hunter Wick in a 182-pound wrestling match at Columbus North High School in Columbus, Ind., Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022.

North owns wins over Seymour and Jennings County, the other two top contenders for the runner-up team spot.

“I think a lot of it is going to come down to how kids perform and how they respond, especially guys that end up in the wrestlebacks,” North coach Matt Joyce said.

The Bull Dogs have one No. 1 seed in freshman Justice Thornton (126). Liam Curfman (106) and Jared Slocum II (182) are No. 2 seeds; Luke Spurgeon (160) is a No. 3 seed and Bryce Hawkins (113), Jason Shuey (132), Evan Saevre (138), Keller DeSpain (170) and Bryce Abner (195) are No. 4 seeds.

Josiah Green (145), Liam Phillips (152) and Alexander Lozano (220) are No. 5 seeds.

“We’ve stayed on track,” Joyce said. “We’ve met just about all of our goals this season. We have some goals as far as sectional, regional, semistate and state to meet. The kids have been working hard, and I like our chances of getting quite a few kids through.”

Jennings is led by No. 2-seeds Teagan Trotter (170) and Peyton Hayden (285). Evan Sochacki (138), RJ Barberis (145) and Gage Gasper (220) are No. 3 seeds; and Lane Kirchner (120), Bryce Barnes (152) and Colton Ross (182) are No. 4 seeds. Vincent Pittman (195) is a No. 5 seed.

“We’re just going to try to get our guys to place as high as they can and get to regional,” Jennings coach Jeff Morrison said. “My philosophy is similar to (former) coach (Howard) Jones’s that you try to get better as the season goes on, and I think we’re peaking at the right time.”

Brown County has only two wrestlers. Brandon Phelps (160) is a No. 5 seed.

Action begins at 9 a.m. Saturday. Championship and third- and fifth-place matches likely will start around 2 p.m.