|Wed, Mar 12, 2014 01:21 PM
January 15, 2014 | 10:21 AM
If seedings played out at the Old Capital Invitational Saturday, an intriguing match would take place for the championship in the 120-pound weight class.
Fans of wrestling got their wish after Corydon Central's Bailey LaHue and Zionsville's Preston Mantel won three matches, leading to their meeting for the bragging rights.
Eleven wrestlers who participated were ranked, including the championship pairing at 120. Last season at 120's state meet at Banker's Life Fieldhouse, LaHue placed fourth while Mantel was sixth.
Entering the current season, LaHue is ranked No. 2 at 120 while Mantel is No. 5 at 126 but entered the Old Cap at 120.
Corydon Central's Mason Kaufer tightens his grip to pin Floyd Central's Drew Davis at the Old Capital Invitational. (click for larger version)
LaHue scored a convincing win Saturday against Mantel. Making quick work of Mantel, LaHue scored a swift first-period pin.
"What was kind of cool was the Most Outstanding Wrestler from 2011 (Mantel) and 2012 (LaHue) met," Corydon Central coach Richard Clipp said. "Apparently, (Mantel) wanted to wrestle Bailey and dropped to 120 to do so. Bailey was real happy with the win."
The victory improved LaHue's record to 15-0.
During pool-round matches, LaHue also had pins against Columbus North's Will Speaker and Floyd Central's Sean Brown. The third match was won by tech fall, 18-3, versus Gibson Southern's Kaleb Greenwell.
For his effort, LaHue was named the Old Cap's MOW for the second consecutive year. He's the second in the history of the Old Cap to earn the honor twice. The other was Princeton's Josh Hardy in 1997 and 1998; Hardy went on to win state at 170 both years.
The Old Capital Invitational, an event that dates back to 1985, was won by Zionsville for the fourth straight year. It was the seventh appearance at the event for Zionsville, which had a team score of 334 points. Placing second at the eight-team event was Floyd Central (271) followed by Columbus North (240) and first-year entrant Lexington Henry Clay (Ky.) (235). Corydon Central finished seventh with 164 points.
"This was one of the better fields we've had," Clipp said. "Henry Clay brought some really good kids that wrestled well. I've known the coach for a long time, and we've been trying to get them to come for several years."
Opening the event, Ezra Paden entered at 132 and scored a win over Columbus North's Jesse Holt by pin. After a forfeit win (no entrant from Southport), Paden had to be patient to score a victory over Henry Clay's Noah Gawthorp. Neither wrestler scored in the first period; in the second, Paden scored an escape point.
That one point would be all he needed to defeat the second-ranked wrestler out of Kentucky. Paden didn't allow an escape to Gawthorp in the third period to eke out a 1-0 decision.
In the championship, Paden was in a tough dual with Floyd Central's Austin Ward. Each wrestler scored a single point on escapes, but a Ward take-down in the third gave him a 3-1 win over Paden.
"Ezra tried something in the final few seconds and it didn't work," Clipp said. "He wrestled a couple of really good matches. His final match was one of the better ones to watch. He's in a really good weight class."
Although the Old Cap presented Paden with his first loss of the season, he still holds an impressive 16-1 record.
Lightweight Mason Kaufer had a strong start Saturday. He scored wins by fall against Evansville Central's Cody Baggett and Floyd Central's Drew Davis.
In Kaufer's third match, he took on Henry Clay's Davis Hernandez, ranked No. 2 in Kentucky at 106. Early in the match, when Hernandez turned Kaufer, the Panther grappler suffered a shoulder injury, ending his day.
Hernandez, along with his brother John Hernandez at 113, went on to stand atop the podium in their respective classes.
"Mason had a good day going and, in the match against Hernandez, he didn't get involved enough to get a taste of how it would go," Clipp said.
Going home with a third-place showing in his first Old Capital Classic was Panther freshman Austin Kopp. He earned a win by pin at 152 after scoring a trio of near falls against Gibson Southern's Steven Margerison. Following a win by forfeit, Kopp came up short in an 8-3 decision against Columbus North's Andrew Jones. Bouncing back, Kopp defeated Floyd Central's Nick Burkland for third place.
"Austin coming in third in a tough 152 improved his record to 20-4," Clipp said. "That's really good for a freshman."
Going on to win at 152 was Evansville Central's Brendon Kelley the state's top ranked in that weight class.
Colt May's start to the Old Cap was quick for the freshman. Competing at 138, May scored wins by pin against Zionsville's Joe Banks and Southport's Devin Brewer. Facing Kentucky's 12th-ranked wrestler David Turdi of Henry Clay in his final pool match, May held steady for a bit. Turdi eventually came away with a 12-0 decision and won the Old Cap in his weight class.
"Colt May, Tyler Robinson, Matthew Applegate, Robbie Leithart all wrestled really well," Clipp said. "Really, the whole team gave a great effort. There were matches where we were out-seasoned but hung on tight. We got wins out of several guys."
Similar to Kaufer, Austin Smith's tournament was cut short due to injury. He suffered an injury in his first match and attempted to give it a go in his second but wasn't at full strength.
"In wrestling, everyone has ouchies and injuries, but we've never had a season like this before," Clipp said.
Six wrestlers have missed time with significant injuries. The team hopes to have Kaufer and Smith back for the post-season.
Among the wrestlers picking up wins for the Panthers was Dylan Knear at 113. Knear scored a win by pin versus a Southport competitor. Matthew Applegate scored one win to place seventh. Corydon Central's Tyler Robinson also scored a win, pinning Henry Clay's Lucas Soard at 160.
At 182, Wyler Taylor earned seventh place when he defeated Evansville Central by pin. He was trailing 10-7 before sticking his opponent.
"Our guys didn't back down," Clipp said. "Many wrestled some highly ranked opponents but wrestled like it was just another match. They didn't wrestle with fear, and I give them a lot of credit."
Also competing for the Panthers were Nathan Dobson (170), Daniel Kimmell (220) and Robbie Leithart (285).
Team results – 1. Zionsville 334, 2. Floyd Central 271, 3. Columbus North 240, 4. Lexington Henry Clay (Ky.) 235, 5. Gibson Southern 228, 6. Evansville Central 222, 7. Corydon Central 164, 8. Southport 140.
Individual champions – 106: Davis Hernandez (LHC); 112: John Hernandez (LHC); 120: Bailey LaHue (CC); 126: Sam Kern (Z); 132: Austin Ward (FC); 138: David Tuduri (LHC); 145: Michael Whalen (LHC); 152: Brendon Kelley (EC); 160: Isaiah Kemper (EC); 170: Chase Herron (FC); 182: Luke Teague (CN); 195: Jacob Aven (Z); 220: Christian Warner (Z); 285: Kenny King (CN).