For The Tribune
Jennings County notched perfection Thursday evening after beating Seymour 59-11 in varsity wrestling action.
The victory closed out the Panthers’ dual-meet season mark at 20-0 and gives them plenty of momentum heading into next week’s sectional tournament, hosted by Jennings County.
According to Jennings County coach Howard Jones, the last time a Panthers’ team went undefeated in dual-meet action was in the 1970s.
“That means a lot to these kids and our fans,” said Jones. “For this team to be one of the best in school history says a lot as we’ve had a rich tradition here of wresting teams.”
The Owls (4-11) entered the contest already in the hole as they forfeited four of the 14 weight classes and faced a Panthers squad boasting eight wrestlers with at least 30 individual victories.
Coach Todd Weaver’s team managed to win just a trio of battles but showed continued promise as it also prepares for the postseason tournament.
“The stats showed Jennings County would beat us as a team, but we approached this as individual challenges for our kids,” Weaver said. “We saw some really tough matches and were even able to come away with a few wins.”
Dalton Miller edged out the Panthers’ Gerardo Castillo, 3-2, in the 220-pound battle, and 126-pounder John Shuffit scored a 15-0 technical fall over Chase Roll, while the Owls’ top wrestler, Garrett Johnson, pulled out a gritty 10-9 decision against Hunter Ray at 132 pounds.
Ray battled back from a 6-1 deficit to knot the score at 8-8 in the third period before Johnson recorded a takedown with 29 seconds remaining.
The Panthers, meanwhile, dominated most of the evening, despite the senior night crowd not getting the chance to see Jennings County’s two team captains wrestle.
Christian Redmond (195) and Ethan Herrin (145) each received forfeit wins, along with teammates Kyle Lewis (113) and Brendan Sutton at 285. Redmond improved to 33-5 on the season, while Herrin improved to a team-best 35-2.
Peyton Shepherd got things rolling for the hosts in the 182-pound battle by pinning Seymour’s Tyler Bicknell in 74 seconds. Teammate Dalton Craig followed with a 95-second shouldering of Nick Carpenter four matches later at 106 pounds to push the Panthers’ lead to 24-3.
Logan Applegate also notched a pin for Jennings moments later in the 120-pound class, pinning Josh Rohde at the 2:25 mark before Shuffitt and Johnson followed with wins for Seymour to pull with 36-11.
Senior Anthony Engelking then clinched the team victory for the Panthers after registering a 10-3 decision against Chaney Reichenbacker at 138 pounds. The triumph gave the hosts a 39-11 advantage with only four weight battles remaining.
Following Herrin’s free win, the Panthers closed out the meet in commanding fashion as Cole Chandler (152) rolled 16-1, Wes Furgason tallied a 64-second pinfall victory, and Peyton Gerkin (170) came away with a 4-2 decision against Tristan Sitterding.
“We are wrestling real well right now, and that’s good for this time of the year,” Jones said. “But we’re still not hitting on all cylinders, and we have a week to work on that.”