Peru — Over and over Saturday morning, the big cats won opening-round matches. Over and over Saturday afternoon, big cats took their spots in the finals.
With predatory efficiency, Peru’s Bengal Tigers, Kokomo’s Wildkats, and Western’s Panthers asserted dominance at the Peru Wrestling Regional. Peru advanced a stunning dozen wrestlers to next Saturday’s Fort Wayne Semistate, and ran away with the team title, amassing 209 points. Kokomo advanced seven wrestlers to Fort Wayne, including five champions. Western will take eight to Fort Wayne.
Only two weight classes will be without a Peru representative next weekend at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. The Bengal contingent is highlighted by four champions. Shane Garretson won the 106-pound class in style with a first-period pin. Kegan Kern won the 126-pound class with a pin with 36 seconds left in an all-action third period. Evan Loe matched Garrettson’s time exactly with a pin just 1:27 into his 138-pound final. And Kaleb Hammersley controlled a 10-5 decision to win the 160-pound class.
Peru coach Andy Hobbs said the Bengals had a “great first round. The kids had a great week, were really looking forward to this, kept putting the matches together, wrestled wide open all day long. These kids did a great job.”
First-round winners at the regional level book passage to semistate action, then spend the rest of the meet sorting first through fourth which translates to semistate seeding. Also for Peru, Peyton Sturgill (132), Colin Quin (145) and Braxton Simpson (152) were each runners up, Nick Cress (182) took third, and Connor Quin (113), Kane Rockenbaugh (170), Danny Fisher (195) and Erik Hobbs (220) finished fourth. Only one Bengal was eliminated on the day.
“Having two freshmen advance is massive I think,” Andy Hobbs said. The freshmen are Erik Hobbs and Sturgill. “It’s a great experience for them at such a young age. We’ve got four seniors in the lineup — relatively young — so those juniors and sophomores get to wrestle in the big barn.”