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Western’s Hayden Shepherd, bottom, works to control Marion’s Daylen Johnson in the 138-pound final at the sectional on Feb. 1. On Saturday, Shepherd beat Johnson again in the final of the Peru regional. He’s one of four Western champs and eight Panthers who qualified for next Saturday’s semistate in Fort Wayne.

PERU — Ten local champions and another 18 wrestlers from the area will fly their schools’ banners in Fort Wayne at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum next Saturday after those 28 advanced to semistate competition from the Peru Regional on Saturday afternoon.

Western leads the crew with four champions and eight wrestlers who qualified for the semistate. The Panther champs are: 285-pounder Braydon Erb, who scored pin in 4:13 in the final; 138-pounder Hayden Shepherd, who won a 10-0 major decision, 132-pounder Hunter Cottingham, who also won the final in a 10-0 major decision; and 106-pounder Anthony Martin, who won via pin at the 2:35 mark.

Cottingham became Western’s all-time win leader on the day, picking up wins 164, 165 and 166. He broke the old school record of 164 by Corey Hinkle.

Also advancing for the Panthers are Justin Brantley (second, 113 pounds); Aidan Belt (second, 120); Chandler Ciscell (third, 126); and M.J. Norman (fourth, 182). The top four wrestlers at each weight book passage to semistate.

“It was the type of performance I felt we could put together,” Western coach Chad Shepherd said. “Overall for the week we had a good week of practice. We’ve known all along that we had a good core group of guys and they showed up [Saturday].

“Anthony’s been there before [to the semistate], Justin’s been there before, Ciscell’s been there, Hunter’s been there, Hayden’s been there, Erb’s been there. It’s new for Belt and it’s new for M.J. It should be a good deal knowing all the experience we’ve got.”

Norman is a freshman and beat a higher seed to get into the semifinals in order to advance to the semistate.

“For a freshman to come in and wrestle like he did, just an outstanding job,” Chad Shepherd said. “[He] put it all together — the things we’ve been working on the last couple weeks. Unbelievable job, allowing himself to be coached.”

In team points, Western finished first among the 20 schools represented at the regional. Western topped the field with a score of 143.5, Oak Hill was second at 106, Wabash third with 90, Eastern fourth at 78.5, Peru fifth at 78, Kokomo seventh with 48, Northwestern eighth with 46, Maconaquah 10th with 31, Tri-Central 12th with 21.5.

Eastern is taking a crew of four to the semistate including three champs. Tallan Morrisett won the 145-pound title with a pin at the 3:08 mark, Tytus Morrisett won the 160-pound final with a pin in 1:52, and Brodie Porter won the 170-pound crown via injury default to his rival in the final. Also, Luke Hetzner took fourth at 138 pounds.

Tri-Central scored a champion at 152 pounds as Ethan Mason won a 4-2 over Oak Hill’s Aidan Hardcastle in the final, avenging a loss to Hardcastle in the sectional final the previous week.

Peru scored two champions in 113-pounder Trey Sturgill, who won the final 4-1, and 182-pounder Zian Constable, who won 9-1 in the final. Also advancing for the Bengal Tigers are Cooper Baldwin (third, 106) and Cole Sailors (third, 120).

Kokomo also has a crew of four heading to the semistate. Harvey Barr was second at 106, Kymani Howard was second at 160, Myles Lenoir was fourth at 170 and Jakobe Sparger was fourth at 220.

“We’re real proud of the effort,” Kokomo coach Mike Miller said. “Harvey in the semifinal round got a wrestler from Peru that had beat him earlier in the year and we came back and turned that result around and beat him and moved on to the finals.

“Kymani had a real tough match in the semifinals. He went down 5-0 in the first period … came back and pinned the kid in the second period. Obviously we’d like to finish as champions, but getting four guys moving on is a good day.”

It’s also new territory for three of the Kats.

“Harvey is our only one that’s been there before. This is his second trip. He was a ticket-rounder last year [reaching the second round of the semistate],” Miller said. “The other three guys this will be the first trip for them. Kymani’s a sophomore, the other two are juniors. It’s good for them to go get that experience. Hopefully that builds for us next year looking down the road.”

Northwestern is sending a quartet to Fort Wayne: Kyle Cardwell (second, 182); Julion Creason (third, 220); Bodey Henry (third, 138) and Marcos Castorena (fourth, 145).

Maconaquah has three wrestlers moving on. Jared Blake (170) and Aaron McKinley (152) were each third, and Blake Kinney (113) was fourth.

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