By Nicole Minier
CHURUBUSCO — Churubusco’s wrestling team had a successful holiday season, placing fourth at the Whitko Invitational and eighth at East Central Indiana Classic, both in December.
Joe Leazier led the team at the Whitko Invitational, being named Most Outstanding Wrestler. Leazier had an excellent performance at the event, beating the third-ranked wrestler in Churubusco’s semi-state, and beating him by pinfall, in the semifinals. Leazier went on to beat a strong Central Noble grappler 8-3 and win his weight class, which led to the award.
“That was a nice honor given the level of competition at that event,” head coach Sam Riesen said.
Riesen said the holiday season is when many matches switch from team duals to individual tournaments. The invitationals both had 16 teams, with various levels of competition.
“Both of the events fit nicely into our schedule as they have a competition level that allows all our guys to compete, while at the same time allowing our top guys to get matches in the later rounds against really solid competition,” Riesen said.
Northridge won the Whitko Invite, followed by Central Noble and Marion in third place.
Placings at Whitko were as follows:
• 106 pounds: Shawn Prater, fifth
• 120 pounds: Dominic Heath, fifth
• 132 pounds: Branden Kolvoord, fifth
• 138 pounds: Brandt Parsons, fourth
• 145 pounds: Joe Leazier, first
• 160 pounds: Max Sajdik, fifth
• 220 pounds: Reese Wicker, third
• 285 pounds: Joesph Rennaker, fourth
The Eagles beat 10th-ranked Class 1A school Wabash by six points.
“This was a team effort all the way around,” Riesen said. “We lost some close ones, but our draws at the start of the day were a little better and gave us more top four finishes instead of top five or eight. We were happy with our performance on the day.”
The Eagles were in the middle of the pack at the ECIC, coming in eighth out of 16 teams — not quite where Riesen hoped to place as a team. Oak Hill won the event, followed by Jay County, Delta, Marion, Muncie Central, Greenville and Coldwater. Churubusco beat Norwell, Winchester Community, Wes-Del, Monroe Central, Union City, Archbishop Moeller, Bluffton and Moore Traditional Kentucky.
“We were a little behind where he hoped to place at the ECIC,” Riesen said. “We felt that we could be a top five team, and we were literally just a match or two from placing in the top five. I think that it shows the kids the importance of everyone wrestling to the top of their ability and coming out ready for every match.”
Individual placings were:
• 106 pounds: Shawn Prater, seventh
• 120 pounds: Cody Graft, sixth
• 126 pounds: Dominic Heath, eighth
• 132 pounds: Branden Kolvoord, eighth
• 138 pounds: Brandt Parsons, seventh
• 145 pounds: Joe Leazier, second
• 170 pounds: Nathaniel Keener, eighth
• 195 pounds: Marcus Debolt, fifth
• 220 pounds: Reese Wicker, second
• 285 pounds: Joesph Rennaker, sixth
“In the championship round, Joe Leazier and Reese Wicker both faced really solid kids. Joe lost a heart breaker that had a really close ending,” Riesen said.
Leazier knew coming into the match that it would be close.
“We had circled it on the calendar — we knew they would see each other in the semistate, so we were excited to see where we were in that match. Without question, we were right there,” Riesen said.
Reese faced a returning state qualifier and battled to a competitive match, taking a tough, 7-4, loss.