ELWOOD — The Arabian wrestling team scored 218.5 points to take first place in sectional competition Saturday, Jan. 28, at Elwood Community High School.
It finished ahead of the 10 other teams and precisely 9.5 points ahead of the previous year’s victor, Noblesville.
“They won last year, and we won it two years ago. We’ve gone back in forth with Noblesville,” head coach David Cloud said. “That is our closest rival and our most contested rival.
“It was a good feeling to beat Coach Knotts, cause he’s such a good guy, and he’s everything a coach should be,” Cloud said. “This is his last time — he’s retiring this year — so, friends or not, I did want to win for the last time.”
Each team began with individual consolation matches, but as the day went on, it became clear that hardly anyone could hold against Pendleton’s aggressive moves.
By the end of the consolation matches, the Arabians were sending 13 of their 14 wresters to the final round.
Of those 13 wresters, eight were placed high enough to make it to regional Saturday.
“Oh, I’m super proud,” captain Ben Avey (132 pounds) said. “It’s great for us to come away as sectional champs again, and I’m just super proud and excited and everything.
“I see the same confidence in everybody on our team — everybody on our team doesn’t waiver or shake when adversity hits us.”
During Avey’s final match, he ran down his Noblesville opponent for three periods before pinning the Miller in a split-second, giving Avey first place in his weight class.
To score even more points for the team, Alex Johnson (152 pounds), Clayton Todd (170) and Tremor Bynum (195) placed second; Dawson Miller (160) placed third; and Derek Sikorski (145) placed fourth.
Caleb Gibson (138), who placed second to a Noblesville opponent, said while he wanted first place he was satisfied with second place.
“I didn’t really worry about where I was seeded, I just wanted to get fired up and just do the best I could — just to get over to regionals and hopefully qualify for semistate,” Gibson said.
“I definitely wanted to win sectionals because I was seeded so low, but I am definitely happy with second place, though.
“My training partner, Ben Avey, I’d have to say he definitely pushed the pace with me, too, and helped motivate me to get to where I am right now and qualify for regionals.”
The Pendleton Heights victory comes on the heels of placing fifth in the Hoosier Heritage Conference meet at Delta.
“Part of it is just a growing up process,” Cloud said of the improvement. “It’s just maturation — the sophomores get older. We tell the kid, ‘You’re not a sophomore now, you’re a junior. You’re at the end of your sophomore season, you’re a junior now.’ We expect them to act and wrestle like a junior.
And, he added, “You have to hate to lose. You act like you have class when you lose, but you have to hate it — hate it with every fiber of your body.”
Avey, Elijah Bauer (126), Gibson, Sikorski, Johnson, Miller, Todd and Bynum will wrestle at regional for a chance to make it to semistate on Saturday, Feb. 11.
Pendleton Heights will play host to the IHSAA regional beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 4.
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”By the numbers” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Hamilton Heights 119.5
Guerin Catholic 60