As the host of the 2019 Circle City Conference wrestling championships, the Roncalli Rebels are seeking to maintain their iron grip on the conference title. They will return six individual champions from last season, of which four are two-time champions. Loaded from top to bottom, the #6 Rebels will be a tough matchup for their conference foes. That said, each opposing squad will be bringing some talented wrestlers of their own.
There are currently five wrestlers from Roncalli ranked in the top ten in the state at their weight class. 2017 State Champion Alec Viduya (132) and Tyce Freije (138) are both currently ranked #2. 2018 State finalist Brayden Lowery (120) and heavyweight John Harris are ranked #4. Elijah Mahan (170) is ranked #6 coming off of his strong state finals performance a year ago. Two other Rebels are also ranked in the top fifteen of their weight class, Kody Glithero (106) and Sam Slivka (126).
“It has been a great season so far,” shared Roncalli coach Wade McClurg. “We are now 12-2 and just finished 6th at the Team State Duals. (We were also) Westfield Shamrock Duals Champs, Marion County Runner Up, Connersville 32 team Spartan Classic Champions, and 6th at Team State.”
Expectations for this season were extremely high coming off of the 2017-18 campaign. The Rebels sent four young men to the state finals with all four making it through to Saturday. Senior Same Hansen finished as a state runner-up to help lead the school to a record 49 points. The other three have all returned.
“I would like to envision a super healthy and happy team in 3 weeks at the Sectional!” McClurg said. “We are excited about what this group can do.”
Historically, the Rebels’ main conference competition has come from Bishop Chatard. Ryan Seymour (126) is the school’s lone conference champion. He will be looking to build on his city runner-up performance and a third place finish at the Connersville Spartan Classic. His brother Reid (138) is also a force to be reckoned with. His deep tournament run a year ago ended in the ticket round of the semi-state against Roncalli’s Viduya.
Other strong Trojan wrestlers include Eli Bustamante (132) and Zach Evans (285). Bustamante is a talented freshman with a bright future. He finished third in the City Alliance championships. Evans started on the offense line for the football team this past season and is coming off of an undefeated weekend at Franklin’s Super-Six meet.
The Guerin Catholic Golden Eagles are led by semi-state qualifier Jeff Dunasky, Jr. At 22-2 on the year, he will be a tough out in the 145 weight class. #10 Dunasky’s only two losses have come to wrestlers from Illinois who remain undefeated and topping their state’s rankings. Other stalwarts include Clay Patton (18-5) at 106 pounds and Zach Sutton (16-7) at 152 pounds. Sutton is a two-time regional qualifier who is looking for his first trip to the semi-state in his senior year. Patton has earned some notable victories and is poised to make a deep tournament run as well.
“Our team is extremely young this year,” said Guerin Catholic coach Andrew Fleenor. “We’re also coming into the conference tournament a little beat up. Two starters are out at 113 and 126. The rest of our guys are learning and improving every week. We are starting to learn how to wrestle a full 6 minutes and stay in good positions. The next step is for our guys to start scoring more points and opening up their offense.”
First-year coach Cory Watkins is in rebuilding mode at Brebeuf Jesuit, but he is pleased with his crew’s effort and determination to improve. The team currently consists of three freshmen, one sophomore, and one senior. They are led by the Etzlers. Ethan Etzler is 8-5 at 120 pounds. Patrick Etzler may have the best chance to get out of sectionals.
“The wrestlers are a young group but are eager to learn,” Watkins said. “They are all willing to wrestle at the best of their abilities. We work to stay positive and improve a little bit every time we are on the mat (both in practice and during meets).”
The wrestling is scheduled to being at 9:00 am at Roncalli High School in the main gym. Saturday is an excellent opportunity to support the conference and catch these young men who very well may be competing on the biggest stage in just a few weeks.