Reclaiming The Crown: Olympians regain HHC title after giving it up last year

Although the Columbus East wrestlers beat Floyd Central on their way to winning the Class 3A state duals last year, the Highlanders ended the Olympians’ five-year Hoosier Hills Conference title win streak.

That has been a source of motivation all of this season in East’s quest to regain the HHC championship. Saturday, the Olympians outscored Floyd Central 261.5 to 240 to win back the title.

“We talk about it in the wrestling room every day, that we beat them last year at team state and then lose to them at conference,” East senior Liam Krueger said. “This year, we beat them again (at team state), and we wanted to be sure we made our statement and beat them twice. We got a lot of pins and were able to do really good.”

Krueger, ranked No. 11 at 126 pounds, was one of seven individual champions in the 14 weight classes for the Olympians. He was joined by Gage Rutan (120), Bo Wagner (138), Tyler Lake (170), Jackson Fox (195), Tommy Morrill (220) and Patrick McMahon (285).

“It felt good as a team,” Wagner said. “Everybody was engaged. Everybody competed today.”

“I’m super excited for Bo Wagner,” East coach Chris Cooper added. “There’s not a kid in our room who works as hard as him. I’m just really happy for his success.”

The Olympians solidified the victory with title-match pins from the 15th-ranked Fox, third-ranked Morrill and 17th-ranked McMahon in the final three weight classes. Fox avenged a loss to Floyd Central’s Spencer Fain from last week’s state duals.

“With almost an entirely new lineup, I really couldn’t be happier,” Morrill said. “I thought everyone did great today. People showing up and doing their part, doing more than expected, I thought we did great. I’m super excited that we could pull this off.”

Talon Jessup (106) and Caleb Cooper (132) each finished second for East. Caleb Kirkpatrick (145) and Nate Anderson (152) each took third, Mitchell Williams (160) placed fourth, Hunter Lashley (182) was fifth and Aiden Miller (113) finished sixth.

“There were a couple matches there where we lost earlier in the day and came back and won for either third or fifth place,” Chris Cooper said. “We’ve talked multiple times this year, first after the invite, with Terre Haute South getting voted in over us, getting paybacks. Here with Floyd Central, them winning last year after we won state duals, we had a chance to get some paybacks there. I’m real proud of our kids. Top to bottom, we wrestled really well. A couple of matches I’d like to have back, but all in all, we were really tough.”

Jennings County edged Jeffersonville 148-146 for fourth place in the team standings. Jeffersonville took third with 199.

The Panthers had two individual champions. Lane Kirchner pulled out a 5-3 decision against Caleb Cooper in the 132-pound final, and Christian Hernandez won 6-5 in overtime against Jeffersonville’s Kadin Moran in the 160-pound final.

Jennings’ Evan Sochacki (138) and Teagan Trotter (170) each finished second. Jonah Mathews (145), Vincent Pittman (195), Xavior Gindhart (220) and Kamron Carney (285) all took fourth; RJ Barberis (152) placed fifth and Logan Pike (106) and Sam Hernandez (182) each were sixth.

“I was hoping to push for that third (team) spot,” Jennings coach Jeff Morrison said. “We started to. We just didn’t win as many of our placement matches as we’d like to. We had two losses in the finals where we were tied or ahead when we lost those, and that’s something we have to work on. We have to finish strong.”