FORTVILLE — Seeding implications were on the line Wednesday night for the Mt. Vernon wrestling team.
In the final home match of the season, and on senior night, the Marauders earned an important 59-7 win over North Central, a team they’ll see in a few weeks at the Indianapolis Arsenal Tech sectional.
“A match like this is really, really important just because of the sectional that we’re in. Just to come in and make sure we take care of business and dominate someone that we’re going to see again in a few weeks, that’s important.” Mt. Vernon head coach Randal Hayes said. “Doing all that we can to be on the right side of the bracket for that is critical.”
On senior night, it was a senior taking the mat first for the Marauders — Jake Mellentine.
He opened what turned out to be a dominant Mt. Vernon team effort with a 4-0 decision over North Central’s Ayden Carter (285).
The Marauders celebrated six total seniors on the night, and had five of them compete in matches.
Four, including Mellentine, earned victories.
Russell Weaver defeated Rami Siyum (195) by fall, Tristan Trevino won by decision over Brayden Harris (138), and in the most important match of the evening, Aiden Kiner defeated Jessie Franklin (145) by decision.
With the No. 1 sectional seed on the line, Kiner and Franklin put on a show.
A back-and-forth match took until the final 10 seconds to decide a winner.
Kiner jumped out to an early 5-1 lead before a few takedowns by Franklin flipped things to his favor 6-5. Kiner then tied things at 6-6, Franklin grabbed the lead 8-6, Kiner jumped back ahead 9-8 and then midway through the closing round, Franklin tied it back up again 9-9.
In the closing seconds of the third round, Kiner made his final move, taking down Franklin and earning the two points needed for the win.
“145 was the biggest match of the year for both of those guys. That match decided who was the number one seed in our sectional,” Hayes said. “If we go from sectional to regional, there’s five ranked 145 pounders, and only four get out. So having the wrong seed at sectional when you have three ranked guys could change the whole direction for Aiden. That was probably the biggest win of his career.”
David Medina and Caelan Alford rounded out the Mt. Vernon seniors.
Medina did not wrestle, and Alford was defeated in a hard-fought match by North Central’s David Bunting.
“Our seniors wrestled well, which is always fun on senior night. More than their wrestling ability, it’s just their leadership and how they carry themselves,” Hayes said. “These are honor students. One’s an eagle scout, one’s playing baseball in college, one’s running track in college. These are just good people, not just good wrestlers. And that’s what’s so great about what we’re doing with the program. We’re not just trying to make good wrestlers.”
“These kids are going to be successful just because of how hard they are willing to work, and push. Whenever we need them to respond, they do, and it’s just fun to watch these guys turn into men, and that’s exactly what this group of seniors has done.”
Outside of the seniors, the Marauders won eight more matches.
Conner Bayliss (113), Carson Hill (126), Elijah Kiner (152), Shawn Taylor (160), and Vanden Vail (170) all won by fall.
Eli Broady (120), and Devin Kendrex (220) both won by major decision, and Ty Barnhart (106) won by forfeit.
The Marauders are back in action on Saturday at New Castle for the Hoosier Heritage Conference tournament.