Winning the school's first wrestling sectional title last season was big for Danville. But winning its second last Saturday was even bigger.
One year after edging Avon by half a point for the title, Danville won by a comfortable 26.5 points. The Warriors had four individual champs and will send 12 wrestlers into Saturday's Mooresville's Regional. The top four finishers in each weight class at the four regional sites, also including Pendleton Heights, Perry Meridian and Richmond, advance to semistates.
"Coming back and winning it again was very important," Danville coach Steve Pugliese said. "This is my sixth year, and in my first year we were closer to last than first. To win it -- and to win it by what we did -- shows that the program is moving in the right direction. We're still not where we want to be. We want to get all 14 to the regional. But 12 is the most we've ever had."
Brock Hudkins (106 pounds), Elliot Molloy (113), Neal Molloy (145) and Brayden Montgomery (152) all won sectional titles for the Warriors.
Perry nearly perfect
Top-ranked Perry Meridian nearly ran the table in the Northwest Sectional. The Falcons advanced all 14 wrestlers to its own regional, 13 as champs. Falcons coach Jim Tonte -- who has led his team to back-to-back state titles -- believes the number of champs is the school's best performance ever in the sectional. But he also knows it how difficult it will be to advance all 14 through to the semistate, though it's not an impossible task.
"We have a tough match at 145 (pounds) and 195, and have to beat a kid at 220 who has beaten us three times -- but all close," he said. "There are a few others, but those are the toughest first-round matchups for us."
Cathedral, which will compete in the Pendleton Heights Regional, also advanced all 14, including seven as champs. Four teams advanced 12 wrestlers through: Danville, Lawrence Central, New Palestine and Franklin. Noblesville was second after Perry Meridian, winning eight weight classes. Cathedral and Franklin each won seven.
Several intriguing matchups are either set or looming Saturday. These are just a few:
First-round matches: No. 7 Shabaka Johns (Warren Central) faces No. 13 Eric Dobbins (Pike) at 145 pounds, while No. 10 Damien Stone (Center Grove) takes on No. 11 Tyler Harlan (Brownsburg) at 220. The winner goes on while the loser's season is ove.r
Potential semifinal matches: No. 6 Andrice Martin (Franklin Central) vs. No. 8 Aiden Kenny (Perry Meridian) at 120 pounds and No. 3 Jake Masengale (Perry Meridian) vs. No. 5 Brian Wagner (New Palestine) at 182. The losers face much more difficult draws the following week in the New Castle Semistate.
Potential regional finals: No. 1 Austin McCloskey (Western Boone) vs. No. 3 John Tatom (Hamilton Southeastern) at 160 pounds. McCloskey (36-0) edged Tatom in double overtime in the sectional final when Tatom was called for stalling. And at 275 pounds, No. 1 Donte Winfield (Perry Meridian) will face No. 3 Georgio Blades (Warren Central) for the third time this year. Two of Blades' three losses this season have come to Winfield.
The numbers dropped off a bit, but there still are 15 area wrestlers carrying a zero in the loss column heading into Saturday.
106 pounds: C.J. Red, New Palestine (37-0); Hudkins, Danville, 14-0; 113: Jack Chastain, Hamilton Southeastern, 31-0; 120: Deondre Wilson, Warren Central, 27-0; 126: Brandon James, Perry Meridian, 27-0; 132: Cody LeCount, Perry Meridian, 29-0; Levi Moss, Ben Davis, 28-0; 138: Zach Batts, Cascade, 39-0; 145: Neal Molloy, Danville, 32-0; 152: Josh Farrell, Greenfield-Central, 37-0; 160: Austin McCloskey, Western Boone, 36-0; 195: Mitch Sliga, Fishers, 38-0; 220: Dylan Faulkenberg, Cardinal Ritter, 40-0; Maximiliano Hernandez, Warren Central, 31-0; Dylan Jones, Avon, 28-0.