North Montgomery has recently dominated the Sagamore Conference wrestling scene. The Chargers set a record last year with a fourth-straight championship, and Crawfordsville and Southmont along with others are ready to stop the streak.
Last season the Mounties followed the Chargers with a second place finish, and hope to be one of the favorites heading into Saturday along with Frankfort and Lebanon.
Head-to-head Southmont posted a 6-1 dual-meet record against SAC foes, including a 42-34 win over the Tigers, and 46-30 loss to the Hot Dogs.
Jamie Welliever knows it will take a complete effort by the Mounties, and that each team has top-level wrestlers.
“Really all the teams in the conference have some tough wrestlers that we will match-up with at times,” the hall of fame coach said. “Each of our guys will just have to place as high as they can.”
Southmont has a trio of wrestlers seeded first overall out of 14 weight classes. Noah Benge carries a 20-1 record into Saturday at 120 pounds, while Dillan Lauy is seeded No. 1 with an 18-3 record at 132, and Ty Welliever No. 1 at 170 with a record of 17-4.
The Mounties own a dual-record of 19-3 on the season, and Welliever believes their opponents have helped them build for the final stretch of the season.
“We have really improved in a lot of positions throughout the season,” he said. “We have seen great competition with our schedule and it has exposed many things we needed to work on. We certainly aren’t there yet, but we are improving in many ways.”
Overall Southmont has 12 seeded wrestlers — as the Mounties chase their first SAC title since 2008.
Crawfordsville enters the tournament with just five seeded wrestlers, but own a 4-3 dual-meet record against league opponents. And coach Chris Ervin knows it comes down to beating their seed, and scoring for the team if they’re an unseeded wrestler.
“If you’re unseeded, then score for the team, and if you’re seeded, then beat your seed,” Ervin said. “That frames it for them and gives them an idea of what they want to accomplish.”
While many weight classes have strong wrestlers seeded first, most classes on paper will have competitive matches to setup the placement rounds.
“We feel like we can compete with everyone in the conference,” Ervin added. “The thing we’ve struggled with the last couple years is we haven’t had the big guns in the finals.”
Crawfordsville has no wrestlers seeded first, but Isaac Rogers takes a 16-6 record with a No. 2 seed into the 132 bracket, while Kalob Brown’s 21-5 record has him seeded No. 2 at 285 (Heavyweight).
Many Athenian wrestlers will hope to turn the tide against guys they lost close matches to earlier in the season.
“The main thing is you would hope a guy that would lose a close match could turn it around and get a shot at redemption,” Ervin said. “This is your chance to show you have improved and get a payback.”
North Montgomery does have a pair of top-seeded wrestlers, but just four overall – and went 3-4 against Sagamore Conference foes in dual-matches.
Dawson McCloud brings a 24-2 record into the 182 pound bracket as the No. 1 seed, while Drew Webster is a perfect 26-0 as the No. 1 seed at 220. Second-year Charger coach Bryce McCoy hopes his elite wrestlers can score enough points to help boost North Montgomery to be competitive with the rest of the field.
“My hope is that the kids have a bit of a chip on their shoulder and wrestle aggressively going into Saturday,” he said. “This weekend our best wrestlers can score more than just six points and I think that will go a long way with helping us match up better with the other teams.”
Jacob Braun (18-6) is seeded No. 2 at 195, while Baydin Hall (21-3) is seeded third at 120.
McCoy knows it will take a complete team effort if the Chargers want to win a fifth-straight title.
“It will take a whole team effort for a strong showing. We need everyone to wrestle to their seed or one higher to finish at the top,” he said. “If a kid is unseeded, we need them to finish in the top four. Our seeded kids need to finish at their seed or higher and score as many bonus points as they can.”
Wrestling starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday at North Montgomery.