Defending Their Crown: Cougars power past rival Marauders in season finale

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Mt. Vernon’s Carson Johnson, left, and Greenfield-Central’s Matt Wickham get tangled together during their 138-pound match on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. ( Tom Russo | Daily Reporter)

FORTVILLE — Traditionally, when Mt. Vernon and Greenfield-Central lock up in a wrestling dual, it’s a low-key weekend event crammed into a multi-team tournament.

On Thursday night, it was one-on-one at Mt. Vernon High School in a regular-season finale, and the rivalry showdown went down to the wire with the G-C Cougars finishing on top, 40-32.

The defending Hoosier Heritage Conference champion Greenfield-Central Cougars rolled out to an 18-0 lead behind a trio of pins early before the host Marauders (19-7) charged back, 22-18, with three falls and a major decision by 285-pound junior Riley Anderson, 17-3.

A Lincoln Parson’s fall for the Cougars (19-8) in 3 minutes, 48 seconds at 113 put Greenfield-Central back on top, but later 10th-ranked and unbeaten Carson Johnson (28-0) of Mt. Vernon narrowed the gap, 34-32, at 138 with a fall in 1:48.

“I obviously wanted to get the pin and get off the mat as soon as possible, but today, I was one of the last matches, so I really wanted to get six points on the board for my team,” said Johnson, who tallied his 22nd pin of the season. “The team points were really huge here. It wasn’t about pinning, it was about getting those points for the team.”

From there, Greenfield-Central junior Zeke Holden put the Cougars in prime position and scored some revenge to upend the Marauders, again, after the team won its second consecutive HHC championship on Saturday at Yorktown High School by a margin of 207-193 over Mt. Vernon.

Holden faced Mt. Vernon’s Aiden Kiner, who bested him in the HHC title match at 145 on Saturday by decision, 10-5.

Up 5-0 after the first period, Holden, whose real first name is Isaiah but goes by Zeke, became the stopper.

Holden protected his advantage with a second-period escape and shut out Kiner in the third after he cut the deficit in the second, to win by decision 6-4. The victory pushed G-C’s team lead to 37-32.

“If he would have done it last week, then he’d be called a conference champ, but this one won us a dual meet, so I’m proud of him. He’s worked hard, year round, going to Red Cobra in Avon five days a week, wrestling at Fargo, doing all this stuff,” said G-C head coach Josh Holden and Zeke’s father. “It hasn’t always paid off for him, and it did today. If you watch him, he’s not excited for him. He’s excited for the team because he came through for them. It’s pretty neat.”

Zeke Holden’s heroics inspired senior Josh VanOsdol at 152, who proved the finisher with a 4-0 decision over Mt. Vernon’s Kellen Kerr to close the dual.

“It was very fun. I was especially hyped after Zeke’s match. It was pretty awesome,” VanOsdol said. “I don’t know about (me being the finisher), but I kind of like the nicknames.”

The Cougars needed key wins to fend off the Marauders, who claimed four HHC weight-class titles on Saturday in Anderson, Kiner, Johnson and state-ranked Devin Kendrex at 220.

Kendrex scored a pin in 42 seconds at 220 on Thursday, which chopped the Cougars’ lead 18-12. Russell Weaver won at 195 by fall in 1:34 to put the Marauders on the board after trailing 18-0.

“There were a lot of matches where guys were going to get wins, but they’re a good team, and you have to wrestle until the end,” VanOsdol said.

The Marauders had four pins and two major decision in the dual, but the Cougars countered with five falls, two decisions and a major decision.

However, Zeke Holden’s win turned the tide.

“Hats off to the Holden kid. He did what he had to do to come out and get ahead. He held on to it. That’s a good comeback for him from what he did at conference,” Mt. Vernon head coach Randal Hayes said.

“The dual itself almost went exactly how I thought it would. Where we have the holes, we just can’t overcome them. We have the studs. We have more horses than they do, but in those holes, they out wrestled us every time at those spots.”

Greenfield-Central 40, Mt. Vernon 32

160: Clay Guenin, GC def. Shawn Taylor, MV by fall 0:39

170: Dewey Woolsey, GC def. Sam McCullough, MV by fall 3:20

182: Silas Frye, GC def. Hunter Austel, MV by fall 3:25

195: Russell Weaver, MV def. Collin Stanley, GC by fall 1:34

220: Devin Kendrex, MV def. Ian Valdes, GC by fall 0:42

285: Riley Anderson, MV def. Brayden Flener, GC by maj. dec. 17-3

106: Conner Bayliss, MV def. Braeden Ayres, GC by fall 4:00

113: Lincoln Parsons, GC def. Xaiden Jenson, MV by fall 3:48

120: Nate Miller, GC def. Hayvin Turner, MV by fall 0:22

126: Dakota Herald, GC def. Gavin Muhlenkamp, MV by maj. dec. 10-2

132: Zach Haughton, MV def. Kannon Zuber, GC by maj. dec. 11-3

138: Carson Johnson, MV def. Matt Wickham, GC by fall 1:48

145: Zeke Holden, GC def. Aiden Kiner, MV by dec. 6-4

152: Josh VanOsdol, GC def. Kellen Kerr, MV by dec. 4-0

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