FORT WAYNE — Peru's wrestling team is sending a strong contingent to the state finals.
Seniors Evan Loe, Kegan Kern and Nick Cress all punched tickets to the state finals by finishing in the top four in their respective weight classes at the Fort Wayne Semistate on Saturday.
Loe won the 145-pound weight class. Kern was fourth in the 132 class. Cress was fourth in the 195 class.
Peru coach Andy Hobbs was excited about his haul to Indy. The state finals are Friday and Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
“Twenty-two years in [coaching] this is the very best performance in the semistate,” he said. “We’ve had three kids advance other times, this is our third time with that, but we had nine kids wrestle and I thought all nine of them did as well as they could."
The second round of the semistate is the ticket round — winners are assured a top-four finish and a spot in the state finals.
“This is the fourth time [Kern] has been here, he’s been in that ticket match a couple times, had some one-point, some heartbreaking losses. I was just really hoping he’d get over the hump. He sure did with style, a big finish on a double for the win [in the second round]," Hobbs said.
“Evan, state placer last year, qualified as a sophomore, got second here last year, won it this time, just hope he has a great week and can make a charge.
“Nick Cress has really turned it around the last two weeks. He struggled at conference and sectional, has really turned it around and wrestled lights out.”
Having three Bengal Tigers alive in the final week of the season will change the energy in the wrestling room for Loe, who is making his third trip. He didn’t give up a takedown in his four wins.