Panthers’, Cougars’ grapplers end season at semi-state
By Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]
While much of the state was prepared for postseason play in girls’ basketball, a solid crowd converged Saturday morning at the Ford Center in Evansville, home to semi-state action on the wrestling mat for grapplers representing 59 different high schools across the southern half of the state. Among the 14 area grapplers to advance to semi-state, 13 competed, the exception being Corydon Central junior Zane Schreck, who suffered an arm injury in last week’s regional that will require season-ending surgery.
Of the local grapplers, three struck gold as they qualified for state finals in Indianapolis.
Leading the way for Floyd Central was defending state champion J Conway, who won the semi-state title at 160 pounds. He will be joined at Gainbridge Fieldhouse by teammate Codei Khawaja at 170, as well as Crawford County’s Donnie Feeler at 106.
To advance, Conway pinned Center Grove’s Julian Weems in just 1:02 before defeating Evansville Mater Dei’s Spencer Turner via technical fall. His final two matches of the day were tight battles before defeating both Avon’s Landon Boe and Columbus East’s Cade Law via 3-2 decisions in the semifinals and championship, respectively.
Khawaja defeated Mount Vernon’s Brady Hook via major decision, 17-3, followed by besting Columbus East’s Tristan Statler 9-3. He had a setback in the semifinals when he fell to Evansville Mater Dei’s Brody Baumann 11-3 but recovered to claim third place by defeating Charlestown’s Benjamin Phillips by 11-10 decision.
Feeler rounded out the state qualifiers at 106 after defeating Martinsville’s Brennand Leonard 5-1 before pinning Vincennes Lincoln’s Ty Henderson in 1:15. His undefeated streak came to an end in the semifinals against Brownsburg’s Jake Hockaday with a 6-0 decision. He had more trouble in the third-place match as he fell to Evansville Mater Dei’s Isaiah Schaefer in a 9-1 major decision.
Out of the five grapplers to qualify for Corydon Central, senior Bryson Rowley was the only one to advance. Despite suffering his first loss of the season at regional a week ago, Rowley got back into the win column by pinning Evansville North’s Marco Anderson in 2:38, becoming the third wrestler in program history to win 40 matches in a season, joining Daniel Cliburn and Bailey LaHue. He fell short of a state finals bid by way of Brownsburg’s Preston Haines, who ended Rowley’s high school career with a 15-4 major decision.
The remaining local wrestlers to compete were eliminated in their opening-round matchups: Corydon Central’s Jayden Owsley (126), Kaeden Owen (160), Caleb Carroll (182) and Seth Johnson (285), alongside North Harrison’s Parker Rhodes (160) and Seth Kendall (220).