Churubusco might have been the last one picked for the eight-team Class A field in the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Associations dual state tournament last weekend at Westfield, but that didnt stop the Eagles from emerging as champions.
Last year, the Eagles finished second in 1A in the inaugural dual tournament to Adams Central, but they graduated a talented senior class and came into this years tourney with several wrestlers who were in their first varsity season.
I didnt know we would have the season we have had, Churubusco coach Sam Riesen said of the 14-3 Eagles. We have had a lot of kids who are first-year varsity wrestlers who have done a really nice job. We have had kids step up who were behind that really talented senior class the last few years. We have preached to them to stay at it for when it is their time.
And their time is apparently now.
The fields for the three-class dual tournament, which was set up a couple of years ago when the IHSAA got rid of the team state postseason tournament, are done through a BCS-style formula that ranks the potential in teams based on the success of their underclassmen in the previous years postseason.
Six of the eight teams in each class get automatic bids from the previous years semistate, while two teams are wild-card teams. The Eagles were the second of two wild-card choices.
At the end of last season, we had not scored enough points for an automatic bid, so we were not even sure that we would get the invite, Riesen said. Once we were invited in, we still had a ton of questions about this years team.
Churubusco beat Bremen 46-28 in the first match and South Putnam 46-30 in the second match, then faced off again with Adams Central in the finals. With the score tied at 26, Tristan Stocksdale came up with a pin in the last individual match at 113 pounds.
Tristan is a kid who we know goes out and gets pins, Riesen said. He was able to step up and get the big pin for us.
Stocksdales pin gave the Eagles a 32-26 win over the Jets, who won last years 1A state title 46-23 over Churubusco.
Any time you talk about small-school wrestling in Indiana, Adams Central is the class of all the small schools, Riesen said of beating the Jets. Its not so much a rivalry with them as it is a respect factor. We knew to be considered the best small-school team in Indiana, you have to at some point beat Adams Central.
And there wasnt much drama as Stocksdale got the pin in 53 seconds over Adams Centrals Tucker Miller.
No one thought we would have a team good enough to do anything, so it feels good to win, Stocksdale said of the team title. It gives us more motivation to win more tournaments this year, do better so we can go back next year and defend our title.
The Eagles dont have a lot of time to celebrate their dual state title, with a rematch against the Jets on Saturday and a key NECC dual match Thursday against Lakeland, with at least a share of the conference regular season title on the line.
It served as a starting point to get geared up for the rest of the season, Riesen said of winning a team title at Westfield. As a coach, you get scared that the kids will take that win and thats going to be the highlight of the year. We have a lot of things to work for.