CHARLOTTESVILLE — Eastern Hancock senior Clayton Cochard set two goals for the month of January. On Saturday, he achieved the first.
Determined to win a Mid-Eastern Conference wrestling weight class championship in his final season, Cochard followed through, claiming the 195-pound league title at home.
The win, in addition to three weight-class runner-ups and five third-place finishers for the host Royals, led to 368 team points, good enough for third at the 2018 Mid-Eastern Conference Wrestling Championships.
Shenandoah won the team title with 454 points behind six individual weight-class champions, three runner-ups and a pair of third-place finishers. Monroe Central was second with 376 points and three individual champions.
Cowan had two individual weight class champions and placed fifth as a team with 194 points behind Wes-Del with 202.
“As a team today, we wrestled OK, felt at times we were right there and couldn’t finish,” Eastern Hancock head coach Keith Oliver remarked after the meet. “We are ready for sectional and hopefully will peak starting next Saturday.”
The Royals will compete at the Shelbyville Sectional on Saturday, a new state tournament path for Eastern Hancock following the IHSAA’s recent postseason realignments announced prior to the 2017-18 season. With the shift, the Royals are now joining the likes of county foe’s New Palestine and Greenfield-Central.
Though a new challenge for the Royals and its wrestlers, Cochard is focused on contending for a potential sectional title, the second part of his two-fold New Year’s agenda.
First and foremost, however, Cochard made good on his MEC ambition, winning each of his conference matches by decision to improve to 28-7 on the year en route to his first-career league championship.
“Clayton wrestled today with a mindset he was going to win conference. He came out and got wins. He showed that he is OK, winning close matches and not getting himself in situations where he could drop matches,” Oliver said. “He’s only been wrestling for four years, and I wish he would of started earlier in this sport.”
While Cochard continues to make up for lost time, his teammates Keagan Kendall, Jordyn Wills and Kaleb Maynard nearly kept pace, finishing second in their respective weight classes during the MEC meet.
Kendall, a freshman, was runner-up at 120-pounds and is now 16-9 on the year. Senior Jordyn Wills was second at 152 and increased his season record to 28-9. Maynard, a senior, is now 14-11 on the year after taking second at heavyweight.
Senior Caleb Giddings (24-11) at 138, freshman Avery Wills (19-15) at 145, sophomore Tyler Vandervilet (12-8) at 182, and junior Alexander Burton (26-11) at 220 each finished third in their respective weight classes for the Royals.
“I believe that hosting conference today helped are guys focus and wrestle in front of our fans. The gym was pretty full and it’s a good experience getting ready for sectional,” Oliver said.
Mid-Eastern Conference Wrestling Championships