EVANSVILLE — Nine Hancock County wrestlers made the trip to Evansville with the hopes of heading home as an IHSAA Boys Wrestling state champion.

Step one to leaving with hardware was winning Friday’s opening round match.

Four grapplers did just that.

New Palestine’s Colin Whetsel and Gunner Butt, Eastern Hancock’s Bradyn Volz and Greenfield-Central’s Jett McGuire all won their first bout of the weekend at the Ford Center and will continue their season today.

With the competition split into two sessions starting at 150 pounds, Whetsel was the second county wrestler to hit the mat and the only one to pick up a win in the opening session.

In the 190-pound class, Whetsel (24-7) broke a 2-2 tie with a third-period escape and takedown to win by decision 5-2 over Hobart’s Aleksandar Tatum (29-7). With the win, he will face Wabash’s Elias Cressell (37-1) today.

In session two, county wrestlers found more success.

Volz, Butt, and McGuire each picked up wins in consecutive weight classes.

Starting at 113 pounds, Volz (35-2) won his matchup in dominant fashion. He defeated Lake Central’s Mario Orueta (30-8) in 5:08 by technical fall, 18-2.

Volz will face a Hoosier Heritage Conference foe in today’s quarterfinals, Delta’s three-time state qualifier Ayden Bollinger.

Bollinger, who won his first-round match by technical fall as well, enters today with a 40-0 record.

McGuire (30-5) followed up Volz with a win at 120 pounds. Coming off of a runner-up finish at the semi-state, McGuire drew a familiar opponent and defeated him once again.

At the HHC tournament, McGuire defeated Delta’s Kaid Jackson (33-8) by decision 2-0.

The win on Friday was similar.

Tied 0-0 entering the third period, McGuire took the lead 1-0 and increased it to 4-0 to take the eventual win by decision 4-2.

The win puts him up against the No. 5 ranked wrestler in the class and last year’s 113-pound state champion, Center Grove senior Charlie LaRocca (34-5).

Butt (34-5) got the county’s last win at 126 pounds. Entering as a semi-state champion, he drew a fourth-place finisher from last week and used that to his advantage.

He jumped out to a 2-0 advantage and led 5-2 by the end of the first period. He scored the only two points in the second period to enter the third ahead 7-2, and closed things out with a 9-2 win by decision over Floyd Central’s Fynn Douglas (26-8).

In today’s quarterfinals, he will face Jay County senior Cody Rowles (32-10).

Mt. Vernon entered the day with two returning state finalists who were each ranked No. 9 in their respective weight classes. Sophomore Eli Broady in the 126-pound weight class was making his second trip, while junior Devin Kendrex in the 215-pound class was making his third trip.

With tough opening-round draws, both dropped their match on Friday to opponents ranked higher in the state.

Kendrex (37-7) fell in his opening round match to the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the class, Crown Point’s Will Clark (30-3). Clark, last year’s state champion at 220 pounds, defeated Kendrex by fall in the third period.

Broady (39-5), after a second-place finish at last week’s semi-state, drew the No. 3 ranked wrestler in his weight class. He was defeated by Avon’s Luke Rioux (37-5) by decision 6-0.

Greenfield-Central’s other state finalist, senior Silas Frye (25-13), lost a close match against the No. 2 ranked wrestler in the 175-pound class, Garrett’s Chase Leech (39-2). In a match that came down to the end, Frye lost by decision 10-7.

New Palestine juniors Cole Vandygriff and Bryce Doss were the final two county wrestlers to compete.

At 132 pounds, Vandygriff (28-8) fell in a match that he controlled most of the way.

After the first period he led 3-2, led 4-2 later in the match, and with time winding down in the final period was ahead 5-3.

With nine seconds left though, Ben Davis’ Keith Parker (40-6) tied things at 5-5 and then pinned Vandygriff to win by fall.

In the final weight class of the day, 144 pounds, Doss (31-11) dropped his match by major decision 10-0 to the No. 3 ranked wrestler in the class, New Prairie’s Jeffrey Huyvaert (46-1).

The quarterfinal matches begin today at 9 a.m. CT and will be followed by the semifinals.

Consolation matches will begin at 4:30 p.m. and championship matches will start at 7:30 p.m.