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Apaches repeat as Wabash County champs

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TAKEDOWN: Manchester’s Delton Moore (standing) takes down his Northfield opponent during Saturday’s Wabash County Invitational.
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TEAM: Wabash’s wrestling team poses with both the Wabash County and overall Wabash County Invitational trophies after Saturday’s meet at Manchester.

BY JACOB RUDE - sports@wabashplaindealer.com

NORTH MANCHESTER – It was no secret that the Wabash County Invitational title would come down to one match on Saturday at Manchester. After opening wins against Southwood and Northfield, the Wabash and Manchester wrestling teams took to the circle with the winner claiming the throne as Wabash County champions.

For the second-straight year, orange would reign supreme as Wabash downed the Squires 43-36 as part of an unbeaten record on the day to take home the Wabash County and overall titles on the day.

“It was fun,” Wabash head coach Jake O’Neill said of the day. “From this perspective, it was fun. I get so wrapped up in the individual matches and potential I see in these guys. And I’m pretty tough on them. I’m really proud of them for responding and a celebration like this helps.”

Wabash dominated the day with eight wrestlers earning All-County honors. Manchester had four wrestlers earn All-County honors, led by Delton Moore at 182 pounds, while Southwood and Northfield each had one.

“I think we showed some improvements from our first meet,” Manchester head coach Byron Sweet said. “I thought they did pretty well especially considering the third match of the day was the big one and the one we were looking forward to and we knew was probably going to be the championship match of the whole tournament. After losing that, it’s good to see how your team responds and how they come back and I thought by and large the kids didn’t hang their heads. They came back and wrestled really hard the last two matches of the day and that’s something that’s going to serve the team well at later tournaments in the year.”

The Squires finished 4-1 on the day while, Northfield finished 2-3 and Southwood was winless on the day after a one-point loss to Fort Wayne Carroll and a six-point loss to Blackford.

The day started with convincing wins for both Manchester and Wabash, the Squires knocking off Northfield 61-13 and Southwood 65-18 while Wabash won it’s two matches against the Norse and Knights by finals of 60-21 and 60-15, respectively.

Both Sweet and O’Neill expected the ensuing match to be the deciding match even before coming into the day and prepared their sides for such.

“There was no secret. We knew the county was going to come down to that match really before we got here,” Sweet said. “They’re a team that is good and is growing and we feel like we are as well. It was really one of those matches that we just wanted to pump everybody up to go out and give maximum effort and they did that.

“When we get in tight matches or we know matches are going to be tight just like Rochester the other night and Maconaquah a couple weeks ago,” O’Neill added, “we have to get pins when we can get them, we have to stay off our back when we get put on our back and we just have to snatch and claw and fight for every point and that’s what those dual meets come down to.”

The Apaches would jump out to an early lead in the match and despite a late rally from Manchester, the Squires would run out of matches to make up the deficit as they fell by seven in the contest. Unlike last season, though, Sweet walked away pleased with his team’s effort.

“There are certainly some things we need to work on and improve on but I felt like when we lost to them last year, I left with a little bit of a feeling of a couple spots we didn’t give our best effort,” he said. “And this year, I felt like we did. So, as a coach, although the result disappoints me and I feel like it could have gone the other way if we’d had a couple different outcomes, I also realize the team was wrestling hard and you can’t be down on them for something like that.”

Both Wabash and Manchester would win going away on the day in the final two matches against Northwestern and Southern Wells. For O’Neill, seeing his young side rise to the occasion on the day gave him plenty of optimism for the future.

“We stepped up,” he said. “We’re super young. With that in mind, my expectations were high for a bunch of young kids. It wasn’t a surprise. I was expecting it out of them. But looking at all of our freshmen and sophomores we have in our lineup, it was impressive.”

Earning All-County honors for the Apaches were Jared Brooks at 106 pounds, RJ Steg at 113 pounds, Ethan Higgins at 120 pounds, Braden Brooks at 126 pounds, Robert Barnett at 132 pounds, Anthony Long at 138 pounds, Traydon Goodwin at 152 pounds and Justin Samons at 220 pounds.

The highlight of the day for Manchester, meanwhile, came in the last contest of the day as a forfeit victory by Moore against Northwestern gave the senior his 100th win for the program.

“Anytime you can add people in that 100-win category, it kind of puts you in that upper echelon of people who have ever wrestled at the school and I feel like Delton is one of those guys who already is,” Sweet is. “It’s something we can build on. You get that 100th win, you get something that the kids can see, that the youth in program can look up to. You give something that people can try to attain. I think that’s what he’s really done a good job for us is you can believe you can make it to state and you can get down there.

“There’s certainly bigger goals but it’s nice to get this one out of the way and to do in front of the home fans is something pretty special.”

Moore was one of four Squires to earn All-County recognition as he finished 5-0 on the day at 182 pounds. Trescott Duffy and Bryce Kamphues finished 5-0 at 170 and 285 pounds, respectively, while Andrew Cagle finished 3-2 at 160 pounds.

Southwood’s Carson Kelly was named All-County after going 5-0 at 145 pounds while Northfield’s Jasper Donaldson was unbeaten on the day at 195 pounds.