Top-ranked Perry Meridian High School struggled through the semifinals of its own wrestling regional Saturday afternoon, losing six of 13 matches. But by the time the finals rolled around, the two-time defending state champs were back on form.
The Falcons won six of seven finals matches to pull away from second-ranked Warren Central and the rest of the field. Perry Meridian ended up with 230.5 points -- while advancing 13 wrestlers to next Saturday's New Castle Semistate -- to take the team title, 44.5 points ahead of Warren Central.
"I'm very pleased with how we wrestled in the finals after the way we did in the semifinals," Perry Meridian coach Jim Tonte said. "We just didn't wrestle very well in the semis, so it was good to see our kids come back and do what they did."
Jacob Cottey (113 pounds), Brandon James (126), Cody Lecount (132), Nick Bova (138), Riley McClurg (160) and Donte Winfield (285) all won individual titles. Winfield, 34-1 and ranked No. 1, topped Warren Central's third-ranked Georgio Blades 10-3; it was Winfield's third win this season against the Warren Central wrestler.
Meanwhile, Lecount -- ranked No. 1 in his weight class -- moved to 32-0, while the second-ranked James is now 30-0.
"Obviously (Perry's champs) helped themselves as far as getting a better draw in the semistate," Tonte said. "That's always big."
Warren Central advanced 10 wrestlers to the semistate -- four as regional champs. The Warriors got wins from Deondre Wilson (113 pounds), Shabaka Johns (145), Katrell Moss (182) and Noah Perdue (195). Wilson, ranked No. 2 in the state, improved to 30-0.
"It was an extremely good day for us," Warriors coach Danny Williams said. "We're starting to improve every week and I really like the way our kids scrapped and found ways to win."
Greenfield-Central picked up two individual crowns. At 152, second-ranked Josh Farrell improved to 40-0 by dominating the field. Farrell picked up three technical falls, including 22-7 vs. Perry Meridian's Keanu Cooper in the finals, while racking up 64 points in three matches. And Austin Rose, ranked 12th at 170 pounds, pinned Warren Central's Danny Herrick 3:32 into the finals.
In a battle of unbeatens at 220 pounds, No. 15 Dylan Faulkenberg of Cardinal Ritter managed to throw and then pin No. 4 Maximiliano Hernandez of Warren Central 47 seconds into the second period. "I think I earned a little bit more respect today," Faulkenberg said. "He's a great opponent, but I was able to capitalize."
Top-ranked Chad Red (40-0) of New Palestine continued his dominant freshman season, pinning No. 9 Matt McKinney of Warren Central in 3:29.