It wasn’t about how the Seymour wrestling team finished Saturday, it was all about how they started.
A slow start hurt the Owls’ chances at the Hoosier Hills Conference championships team title at Floyd Central, and the Owls finished sixth out of eight with 111 points.
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Jennings County managed a three-peat on the title, defeating Columbus East 229.5-222.5 for first.
“I think they came out slow and wrestled not to lose,” Owls coach Todd Weaver said. “If you do that, it shuts everything down. Sometimes, you wrestle not to lose because you want to win so bad. We talked about not wrestling that way — and then we wrestled better later on. We can’t dig ourselves a hole like that. We need to wrestle all the time. We need to go out there and earn it.
“We lost a lot of matches that were close, and it felt like we didn’t win any close matches in that first round — that was kind of disappointing.”
Freshman 120-pounder Brandon Penegar was the lone Owl to advance to a championship match.
Following a forfeit by Madison, Penegar defeated New Albany’s Jacob Prince on an 8-0 major decision.
In the finals, Penegar was pinned by Columbus East standout Graham Rooks in 3:08.
“He’s a freshman that has been doing everything with us the last three years,” Weaver said. “He lifts weights with us and competes in the summer time. As a freshman, he’s really coming out. He lost his first three matches this year, and then he went on a streak where he won around 23-straight. He has gotten better every single match — and I think that got him to the finals.
“He went out to win the match and I’m really proud of that.”
Dalton Miller placed third in the 220 pound by defeating Bedford North Lawrence’s Jon Godsey in a 5-2 decision and East’s Austin Sheckles 3-1 after falling to Floyd Central’s Ty Sorg (fall, 5:22) in the semifinals.
David Shuffitt (132), Cheaney Reichenbacker (145) and Tyler Bicknell (195) all finished in fourth place on the day.
Fifth-place nods went to Justin Ruddick (106), John Shuffitt (126), Zack Newton (152) and John Newton (182).
Zack Newton was able to avenge an earlier loss to Jeffersonville’s Josiah Freeman by winning a 6-0 decision in the fifth place game.
Three of the other five Seymour wrestlers finished in eighth place.
This year’s HHC tournament featured a handful of wrestlers with 20-plus wins and state rankings.
“Our conference is one of the better conferences in the state,” Weaver said. “There are a lot of good, and great, kids here. If you come here with an average team, you can get (beat). You have to be ready to wrestle because everyone else does.”
Despite not meeting self-imposed high expectations, Weaver believes he has the talent to start making a postseason push.
“Things are going well for us, but this is a tough place for us to come and wrestle,” Weaver said following the HHC. “I hope come sectional time we’re a little more ready mentally. We can do a lot of good things this year and send a lot of kids to semistate.
“Then in the semistate, it’s a matter of making the match small and not allowing big moves to happen. Our kids need to learn to stay in a match and not going for it too early. If we do that (in the postseason), we could send more than Seymour has ever had to semistate.”