Returning to the wrestling room above the Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium on Monday from the weekend’s sectional at Jennings County, members of the Seymour wrestling team could be heard laughing and joking with one another.
The wrestlers were loose and having fun, without anxieties for what lies ahead in the next phase of the postseason.
A total of 10 wrestlers will take the mats today at the Jeffersonville Regional — the most ever by the program since sectionals changed to a 12-team format.
Seymour coach Todd Weaver said that he thinks 10 ties the most Owls wrestlers to advance to regional in school history.
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Last season, the Owls advanced three wrestlers to the regional.
Coming off a sectional championship, senior Garret Johnson returns to the regional to compete in the 138-pounds class.
Johnson, who is 29-7 on the season, will start with a match against Jeffersonville’s Carson Somerville (19-28).
“I think he’s wrestling his best and feeling his best right now,” Weaver said of Johnson. “He put a lot of pressure on himself, and you can see it in practice. He wasn’t practicing badly, but you could tell he was thinking about (sectionals) a lot.
“He came out and beat someone he wasn’t supposed to at sectional (Jennings County’s Brooks Wathen). I don’t think there was anyone here who thought he couldn’t do it, but he has been beaten by that kid before. I think it does a lot for him mentally. I think he’s spring-boarding to regionals with that. Anytime that he goes out wrestles smooth and relaxed, I will put him on the mat with anyone.”
Also returning to the regional round is senior John Shuffitt (34-9), who will wrestle in the 132.
Seniors competing in their first-ever regional include Tyler Bicknell (35-8) in the 195 and John Newton (32-12) at 182.
Newton, who finished fifth at the Jennings sectional, advances as a member of an opposing team had to drop out of the tournament.
“I know that (Newton and Bicknell) are extremely excited, and as a coaching staff, we feel good because you see their hard work pay off,” Weaver said. “That 182 pounds weight class is really tough, and John is just as good as any of them. It reinforces what you always knew — these kids can do it.”
Freshmen Justin Ruddick (106, 17-14) and Brandon Penegar (120, 30-8) will both see their first regional action.
“I really didn’t think that (the freshmen) wrestled too tight or scared,” Weaver said of their sectional performances. “We lost in the semifinals at 120 against a kid that is a very tough match. I thought the freshmen wrestled pretty composed for being freshmen.”
Juniors David Shuffitt (132, 34-9), Cheaney Reichenbacker (145, 28-11) and Dalton Miller (195, 27-8) will also get their first chance to advance to the semistate round.
Zach Newton (26-15), a sophomore, will also represent the Owls in the 152.
Weaver said that the draws are tough, with nearly all of the Hoosier Hills Conference teams plus talented individuals coming out of the Jeffersonville Sectional.
The Red Devils have the most wrestlers in the tournament with 13 while Columbus East, Floyd Central and New Albany will send 12.
“We have a lot of draws that we’re supposed to win or where it will be tight (scoring),” Weaver said. “Since our kids are wrestling better now, I think they believe they can win. Our kids are excited about their draws, and you don’t always get that. The reason we have good draws because of our improvements. We have kids that know they can win.”
Weaver said that his team had a good week of practices and are focused for the next phase of the postseason.
“It really hasn’t been that hard keeping them focused,” Weaver said. “It was hard throughout the season at times, but the last few weeks it hasn’t been hard. Sometimes, you get a team that works hard and sees the light at the end of the tunnel and wrestles their best and that’s what we’re doing. I think we’re still heading up.”
What: Jeffersonville Regional wrestling meet
Who: Ten individual wrestlers of Seymour High School
When: Weigh-in at 9:30 a.m. today
Where: Jeffersonville High School