In a rematch of last year’s championship match, third-ranked Mishawaka knocked off two-time defending state champion and top ranked Evansville Mater Dei, 28-22, to claim their second wrestling state championship at Center Grove High School in Greenwood, Indiana.
The state championship is the first for Head coach Darrick Snyder, and the first for Mishawaka since 1991.
After appearing in the state finals for nine consecutive seasons, the Cavemen avenged last year’s championship match defeat against the Wildcats to earn title.
The Cavemen (31-1) advanced to the championship round by defeating second-ranked Perry Meridian 29-24 in a closely contested first round match-up. Mishawaka was led in the match by senior Brandon Straub who was a winner by fall in 1:59.
In the second round, the Cavemen defeated Merrillville 30-22, thanks to a fall by junior Steven Sandefer and a technical fall victory by senior Brandon Mersich.
The championship match began with the 135-pound class, where Evansville Mater Dei junior Adam Weinzapfel defeated Mishawaka junior Joey Smith, 7-4, to give the Wildcats an early 3-0 lead.
Mishawaka re-claimed the lead when 160 lb. junior Tim Forte defeated Mater Dei junior Zach Easterling in a tight 1-0 match. The victory gave the Caveman a 9-7 lead; a lead that they would never relinquish.
The Cavemen extended the margin with victories by 215 lb. senior Dave Balentine, 285 lb. senior Randy Morin, and 103 lb. sophomore Paul Beck, pushing their lead to 22-10.
Evansville Mater Dei threatened by trimming the lead to 22-16 that featured back-to-back victories by 112 lb. senior Cody Moll and 119 lb. senior Alex Weinzapfel.
Mishawaka was overcome with excitement when 125 lb. junior Josh Harper, a three-time individual champion and unbeaten for his career, slammed the door on the Wildcats with a victory by fall over Mater Dei freshman John Sims.
Harper’s win sealed the match victory and the championship.
For twelve-time champion, Evansville Mater Dei (23-2), it was their second runner-up finish (1987).