NEW CASTLE — One by one, each individual weight class champion from Hancock County had a point to prove on Saturday during the Hoosier Heritage Conference wrestling tournament.
And they didn’t disappoint.
A total of 11 county competitors advanced to the HHC tournament finals with six winning titles at the New Castle Chrysler Fieldhouse, including New Palestine senior Landan Burton, who nabbed his third consecutive crown in dominating fashion.
Arguably overlooked in the state rankings this year — positioned 16th at 220 pounds by IndianaMat — Burton improved to 32-1 on the season, claiming his seventh straight victory after opening a flawless 25-0.
Burton defeated Pendleton Heights’ Cade Campbell in the HHC semifinals by major decision 12-4 after a quarterfinal forfeit, and he overpowered 10th-ranked Dalton Clouse (31-3) of New Castle in the finals with another major decision 11-3.
“I wanted to make sure everyone knew I was here and I wasn’t playing around this year,” said Burton, a three-time semistate qualifier in his career. “This year, from football, I feel like I’ve changed so much in wrestling form. My strength has gone up so much. I’m a whole other kid really.”
While his power and furiosity has increased, his goal remains the same since he won his second sectional title in three years and first regional a season ago.
“All my focus now is getting to state. At first, it was making it out of sectional, to regional and semistate, but state is my main goal,” said Burton whose lone loss this year was a 4-2 decision to No. 7 Michael Boots of Evansville Mater Dei. “I feel like I can compete with the best from Indiana right now.”
Greenfield-Central’s Gavin Rose, a two-time state qualifier, shares the same vision, and the 120-pound junior upheld it by winning his second straight HHC title.
Ranked 13th in the state, Rose placed seventh during the 2016-17 state meet at 113 pounds as a sophomore, and is eyeing another run at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis with the postseason quickly approaching.
Defeated by his former middle school classmate, 11th-ranked Chase Wilkerson (30-2) of Mt. Vernon, during the New Palestine 6-Way Duals last month, Rose (25-2) won a 7-5 decision in the HHC semifinals to setup a rematch in the finals.
The duo locked up for six scoreless minutes in regulation before going to a one-minute sudden victory, but with neither able to strike, the match went to two tiebreaker rounds.
In the second of two 30-second bonus periods, Rose finally broke the stalemate with a walk-off reversal against Wilkerson at the buzzer.
“It was big. I lost to him before and all week, at practice, it was burning on me. I thought I was going to win the whole time, and it happened,” Rose said.
The win marked Rose’s second win in a week’s time against a higher-ranked opponent, as he defeated Cathedral’s Lukasz Walendzak by decision 4-0 the weekend prior at the North Central Invitational.
“Gavin is riding a streak right now,” Greenfield-Central head coach Josh Holden said. “He beat the No. 4 kid in the state last weekend and beats a good kid in the finals to win his second conference title. He’s coming up at the right time.”
Ninth-ranked Carter Noehre (25-0) at 132 and seventh-ranked Brad Lowe (30-2) kept pace with Rose, both winning HHC titles to help the Cougars place third as a team after finishing runner-up last year.
Yorktown won the tournament over Pendleton Heights with the tournament’s narrowest margin since 2004 at 188-180. Greenfield-Central finished with 168 team points. Mt. Vernon was fifth, a placement higher than in 2017, with 144.5 points, and New Palestine was sixth.
The Mt. Vernon Marauders sent four wrestlers to the HHC finals, and two stood atop the podium as first-time champions.
Drake Kendrex (32-3), a junior, won the 160-pound title with three straight pins. His fastest came in the semifinals against Pendleton Heights’ Jacob Brown in 3:27. He opened the day by pinning Greenfield-Central’s Mike Hoskins in 3:40. He won the championship with a fall in 4:36 against New Palestine’s Logan Robinson (24-8).
“I was pretty anxious coming in here at 29-3. I’m ranked fifth at semistate (by IndianaMat) right now, and I didn’t want to give that ranking up,” Kendrex said. “I came in here mentally tough, believing that no one was going to stand in my way.”
Junior P.J. Sterrett (31-6) gave Mt. Vernon its second champion at 182 behind a pair of pins — the quickest at 1:48 in the quarterfinals — and a 5-0 decision over New Castle’s Corbin Jarvis in the finals.
“The past few years we haven’t been placing the way we wanted, and I think we’re starting to become feared when we walk into tournaments,” Sterrett said. “That all comes down to family, which is what we stress in the room.”
The Marauders had a pair of runner-ups in Chase and Chris Wilkerson (28-4) with the latter scoring a semifinal upset against No. 16 Alex Barr of Yorktown. Chris Wilkerson defeated the top-seeded Barr (35-1) with a late two points before losing to Carter Noehre in the 132-pound finals.
“To see a kid who is barely ranked in semistate beat a kid that was undefeated, that’s insane,” Sterrett said.
New Palestine’s Christian White (28-6), a freshman, placed second at 106, and Noah Wright (26-7) was third at 145. Hunter Holcombe (5-3) was third for the Dragons at heavyweight.
The Cougars’ other HHC finalist, Cooper Noehre (25-7), who is ranked 12th in the state, claimed runner-up honors at 145, losing to second-ranked Christian Hunt (34-0) of Yorktown by major decision 9-1. Hunt is a two-time state place-winner and three-time qualifier.
Greenfield-Central had a third-place winner in Hunter Gulden (27-8) at 220 and three more competitors took fourth, but it wasn’t enough to counter Yorktown’s six individual champions or the Arabians’ scoring depth.
“In tournament like this, it comes down to bonus points, pins. You don’t get pins when you should have or you win by one or two, or you should have beat a kid and you lose by one or two, it changes the whole tournament,” Holden said. “I thought we were going to be in it. Third is not good enough for us. We should have been in the hunt, and we weren’t.”
HHC Wrestling Tournament
Team Scores: Yorktown 188, Pendleton Heights 180, Greenfield-Central 168, New Castle 154.5, Mt. Vernon 144.5, New Palestine 143.5, Delta 130, Shelbyville 73.
Championship Match Results
106: Zach Todd (Y) def. Christian White (NP), maj. dec. 13-2
113: Brayden Curtis (Y) def. Andrew Black (NC), dec. 6-4 SV-1
120: Gavin Rose (GC) def. Chase Wilkerson (MV), dec. 2-0 TB-2
126: Trevor Ragle (NC) def. Payne Blackburn (D), dec. 6-2
132: Carter Noehre (GC) def. Chris Wilkerson (MV), dec. 5-2
138: Colt Rutter (Y) def. Tytus Ragle (NC), maj. dec. 14-2
145: Christian Hunt (Y) def. Cooper Noehre (GC), maj. dec. 9-1
152: Eric Hiestand (Y) def. Jarod Miller (PH), fall 3:56
160: Drake Kendrex (MV) def. Logan Robinson (NP), fall 4:37
170: Brad Lowe (GC) def. Clayton Todd (PH), fall 0:30
182: P.J. Sterrett (MV) def. Corbin Jarvis (NC), dec. 5-0
195: Tremor Bynum (PH) def. Brady Pease (D), dec. 6-2
220: Landan Burton (NP) def. Dalton Clouse (NC), maj. dec. 11-3
285: Holden Parsons (Y) def. Jared Baldwin (PH), fall 3:57
Third-Place Match Results
106: Blaine Lee (D) def. Dillon Berry (S), dec. 5-3
113: John Robinson (D) def. Dylan Dorman (GC), dec. 4-2
120: Jared Brown (PH) def. Traye Owens (NC), dec. 10-4
126: Xayvier Curtis (Y) def. Larry Evans (GC), dec. 6-2
132: Alex Barr (Y) def. Elijah Bauer (PH), maj. dec. 12-0
138: Derek Sikorski (PH) def. Kenny Thompson (GC), dec. 5-4
145: Noah Wright (NP) def. Caleb Gibson (PH), dec. 2-0
152: Jaiden Turner (D) def. Isiah Diaz (MV), fall 1:34
160: Sabastian Brown (D) def. Jacob Brown (PH), fall 2:45
170: Travis Reeves (NC) def. Charlie Moore (MV), dec. 3-1
182: Skylar Coffey (S) def. Sandran Wilson (D), fall 2:37
195: Garrett House (NC) def. Brayden Clevenger (NP), inj. def. 2:24
220: Hunter Gulden (GC) def. Cade Campbell (PH), dec. 6-5
285: Hunter Holcombe (NP) def. Jake Stotnicki (MV), dec. 4-0