FC has perfect Saturday sending 4 to semistate
By John Estridge, Sports Editor
When Franklin County wrestling coaches talked about the Wildcats performance at the Richmond Wrestling Regional, they used baseball terms.
Both head coach Cody Phillips and assistant coach Brice Sayne used the phrase: “We went 4-for-4.”
In baseball, that means a batter went to the plate four times and got four hits, a perfect day.
Saturday, Feb. 2, that meant four Wildcats stepped onto the Richmond mats during the first round, and all four won those first-round matches. That translated into trips to the New Castle Semistate on Saturday, Feb. 9.
That also translated into sophomore Evan Seal (113), senior Garrett Condo (120), sophomore Adam Crouch (138) and senior Grant Suding (152) continuing their wrestling season at the prestigious semistate.
Condo finished second while Seal and Suding came in third. Crouch had a fourth-place finish at the regional.
“All four wrestlers wrestled very well Saturday,” Phillips said. “Happy to have all of them move on to semistate this weekend, that’s a big accomplishment in itself ‘making it to semistate’ as Seal didn’t make it out of the sectional last year and Crouch didn’t make it out of the regional last season.”
Seal started the day with an 8-6 decision over Knightstown junior Kalen Carter. He then lost by a 1:38 pin to Lawrenceburg senior Spence Gordon. Gordon (25-4) went on to win the regional championship. Seal then wrestled for third place and pinned freshman Jackson Ramsey of Northeastern in 1:44 to take third in his weight class.
“Seal had a fantastic day, knocking off the Knightstown kid right off the bat in a tough match,” Phillips said. “He wrestled very tough and smart. He scored when we needed to score and got the job done. I didn’t get to see his second match that he lost to the Lawrenceburg kid as I was coaching Condo at the same time, but Seal came out and revenged a loss against the Northeastern kid for third as he pinned him in the second period.”
Condo was the only Wildcat sectional champion. As such, in his first round, he was paired against an opponent who was fourth at a sectional. That first opponent was Knightstown junior Jared Richardson. Condo pinned Richardson in 2:44.
Next was a familiar opponent in East Central freshman Charlie Euson. Condo defeated him in a 2-0 decision. Condo scored a takedown in the first period against Euson and was able to make it count. Euson, who took the down position against Condo in the third period, almost reversed Condo as time ran out, but Euson was unsuccessful.
In the championship match senior Traye Owens pinned Condo in 3:31. With the pin, Owens has a 47-2 record.
“Condo wrestled well and just got overpowered in the finals against a great kid,” Phillips said. “That is done and over with so we are moving forward and focusing on getting through the first round of semistate.”
In the opening round, Crouch defeated Northeastern senior Spencer Day with a pin in 2:48.
Crouch's next opponent was undefeated Centerville wrestler Gabe Phillips. Phillips stayed undefeated on the day by winning the regional championship in his weight class. Phillips pinned Crouch in 27 seconds.
“He’s a great wrestler, and Crouch got caught underneath him right from the get go, and when you get caught under a good wrestler who is 6 foot tall, a cradle is bound to happen, and it did,” Phillips said.
Crouch then wrestled for third place. He was defeated by East Central senior Adam Negangard 3-0. Negangard scored a takedown with 20 seconds remaining in the first period. He followed it up with an escape with 31 seconds remaining in the second period. Negangard finished the day with a 23-3 record.
Suding opened the day by defeating Centerville senior Danny Clark with a 6-3 decision. It was Clark's fifth loss on the season. His senior year ended with a 29-5 record. Suding then lost to South Dearborn senior Zach Otto, 3-1. This is the third time this season Suding has lost to Otto. The winning margin for Otto in the first two was by one point each. The two wrestlers were tied 0-0 going into the third period. Otto chose the down position and escaped as Suding let him up to begin the period. Then, with just a few seconds remaining, Otto was called for a violation relating to stalling as he purposefully went off the mat to get away from Suding.
That tied the match at 1-1 necessitating overtime. However, Otto scored a two-point takedown with 38 seconds remaining in the overtime period.
“Suding’s match against Otto in the semis was a heart-breaking one, seeing them wrestle for the third time and every time the match became closer and closer and seeing that he is right there with the top notch wrestlers is great to see, and I think he saw that he can compete with the best as well,” Phillips said. “Even though we fell short in OT that’s done and over with and (now we) focus on what’s next at semistate. It’s all about staying alive right now and moving on.”
In the team contest, FC came in ninth in the 19-team regional. The Wildcats amassed 44 points. Three Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference teams took the first three spots. South Dearborn won the team regional with 99.5 points. East Central, which won the team sectional a week prior to the regional, was second with 89 points. Lawrenceburg was third with 81.
In that sectional, Lawrenceburg was second and South Dearborn third.
At the regional, Milan took fourth with 64 points. Centerville was fifth with 58 points and Shenandoah was sixth with 54.5 points.
Cambridge City Lincoln and Northeastern were seventh and eighth, respectively, with 54 and 46 points.
EIAC school Connersville was 10 with 40.5 points. Host Richmond was 11 with 38 points. Union County and EIAC team Rushville were tied for 12 with each school picking up 31 points.
New Castle was 14 with 30 points. Hagerstown and Tri had 16 and 11 points, respectively, for 15 and 16 places.
EIAC team Greensburg was the last team to score points with six. Batesville, an EIAC team, and Blue River Valley failed to score points.
All four Wildcat wrestlers will compete at the New Castle Semistate Saturday, Feb. 9. Action begins at 9 a.m. The regionals feeding into the semistate include: North Montgomery, Pendleton Heights, Perry Meridian and Richmond.
“This week, we are focusing on our first-round matches at semistate and getting good workouts in every day,” Phillips said. “Nothing too major besides staying healthy and preparing ourselves for the best outcome on Saturday. If you aren’t prepared by now at this point in the season, it’s probably not going to happen.”
Many people believe the best wrestling of the season is at the semistate because all the wrestlers are giving their all to make the state finals.
“ No doubt, these last two weekends of the season are brutal, just an all-out war because all these kids have the same goal and that’s to make it downtown to Bankers Life to wrestle for a state title,” Phillips said. “You will see some of the best matches of the year in the ticket round on Saturday, and I’m sure some higher-ranked kids will get upset as it happens every year.
“I’m excited for Saturday and think we have a chance to make it to Bankers Life to compete for a state title,” Phillips said. “But regardless of the outcome on Saturday, these four young men have made me very proud this season and have wrestled their butts off and deserve everything they have accomplished. I most definitely will miss the two seniors next season.”