2013 Merrillville Semi-State Preview

Updated: February 6, 2013

The Merrillville Semi State has been a premier site to watch top quality wrestling as the staff does an admirable job with the facility and they always make the finals special for the kids.  The addition of of the consolation wrestle back this year might just be the straw that broke the camel’s back when it comes to looking for a new facility.


The wee wrestlers have a pretty deep field that has talent coming from all over the semistate.  #6 Michael Garza and #2 Jake Sinkovics appear to be a cut above the rest of the field.  Both have been this far before with Garza pinning Sinko last year at semi-state.  Sinkovics has stormed back this year and has run the table with impressive dominating victories over both Garza and Garrett’s Hayden Lee at the Al Smith Invite.

In the upper half of the bracket, I like Penn’s #13 Drew Hildebrandt and Lafayette Harrison’s Daniel Davis to survive their quarter brackets.  Both must survive challenging ticket round battles.  Hildebrandt will likely battle New Prairie’s physical Chris Trent and Davis might have his hands full with Plymouth’s Cody Allmon.

Winner – Sinkovics
Runner UP – Hildebrandt
#3 – Garza
Hoping not to draw Red – Davis

lockMike’s Cold Hard Locks
1. Jake Sinkovics Mishawaka
2. Chris Trent- New Prairie
3. Mike Garza-Merrillville
4. Daniel Davis- Lafayette Harrison



There are a few stone cold, lead pipe locks at Merrillville and the 113 weight class provides one of them in junior Stevan Micic.  The top-ranked Micic has not been seriously challenged this year.  Second ranked Zach Davis is in this bracket but I have serious doubts that there is anyone in the state who will test Micic, who is also ranked 2nd nationally by FloWrestling.

Penn’s Zach Davis is the clear number two wrestler at this weight and he will likely be joined on the podium by South Bend Clay’s #14 Jacob Hartman and the winner of the best ticket round match, Portage’s #7 Gaige Torres and Benton Central’s Cole Lukaszka.

Winner – Micic
Runner UP – Davis
#3 – Torres
Banker’s Life trip – Hartman
lockMike’s Cold Hard Locks
1. Stevan Micic Hanover Central
2. Gaige Torres- Portage
3. Zach Davis- Penn
4. Jacob Hartman- Clay


A very compelling semi final clash will highlight this weight class if the bracket “follows chalk”.  A veteran Region rumbler, #5 ranked Adam Garcia of Merrillville will attempt to reverse a loss to Lowell’s third ranked super frosh, Drew Hughes, that he suffered back in late December.  Hughes has been basically unchallenged at this weight and his name has been thrown around as a state title contender.

In the other half of the bracket, Warsaw’s Luis Munoz will have to fight off challenges from Hammond Morton’s Ruben Rodriguez and veteran Lake Central lightweight, Matt Lechowicz to reach the finals.  Munoz is very slick on his feet and his neutral work might be enough to carry him to the finals.

Winner – Hughes
Runner UP – Munoz
#3 – Garcia
#4 – Lechowicz
lockMike’s Cold Hard Locks
1. Drew Hughes-Lowell
2. Matt Lechowicz- Lake Central
3. Adam Garcia- Merrillville
4. Ruben Rodriguez- Morton



Crown Point will get on the Merrillville podium at 126 when 27-0 Josh Fuqua dispatches all challengers this Saturday.  Fuqua will have the memory of last year’s tough ticket round loss to Adam Garcia driving him toward his goal of being a semi state champion.  Fuqua’s will probably battle the winner of the Blake Denton-Max Buckley match up. Valparaiso’s 12th ranked Buckley has battled injury throughout his career but is battle tested.  Twin Lakes’ sixth ranked Denton is not your typical Logansport regional kid.  He is very good on his feet and is already a two time state qualifier as a junior.

Winner – Fuqua
Runner UP – Denton
3rd – Scott Warner – South Bend Riley
4th – Buckley
lockMike’s Cold Hard Locks
1. Josh Fuqua Crown Point
2. Blake Denton- Twin Lakes
3. Max Buckley- Valparaiso
4. Dylan Logsdon- Portage



The 132 weight class might just be the deepest in the field at Merrillville.  The injury to Portage’s highly ranked Julian Torres is a blow but the class remains deep and talented.  Look for South Bend Clay’s second ranked Mitch Hartman to shake off a couple of frustrating losses the last two weekends and reach the finals.  He will likely have to defeat Merrillville upstart, freshman Jacob Covaciu.  The 7th ranked Covaciu will have his own ticket round thriller versus Penn senior Josh Curcio.

The bottom half of the bracket will likely play out with a couple of battle hardened seniors reaching the semi finals in Mishawaka’s eighth ranked Grant Martsoff and Crown Point’s sixth ranked Trevor Burlison.  This match up will be a tactical low scoring affair but I like the way Martsoff has handled himself the past two weeks and look for him to take the narrow victory.

Winner – Martsoff
Runner UP – Hartman
#3 – Burlison
#4 – Covaciu
lockMike’s Cold Hard Locks
1. Trevor Burlison- Crown Point
2. Julian Torres- Portage
3. Grant Martsolf- Mishawaka
4. Jacob Covaciu- Merrillville



The second stone cold lead pipe lock at Merrillville looks to be Mishawaka’s super soph, Tommy Forte.  He is ranked first in the state and 20th nationally.  The bracket is set up for him to cruise into the finals where he will face the winner of the highly anticipated ticket round battle between three time state finalist Anthony McHugh of Culver Military and 6th ranked Crown Point Bulldog Darden Schurg.

The other two state finalists are a little less clear cut.  I like Penn’s Alex Rinehart to win a close battle with Rensselaer Central’s regional champ Hunter Hickman and Kankakee Valley’s Jimmy Marich to prevail over Merrillville’s Isaac Rentas.

Winner – Forte
Runner UP – McHugh
3rd – Rinehart
4th – Marich

lockMike’s Cold Hard Locks
1. Tommy Forte- Mishawaka
2. Darden Schurg- Crown Point
3. Alex Rinehart- Penn
4. Isaac Rentas- Merrillville



The Jason Tsirtsis era is over at 145 so this weight class opens up for a host of new challengers.  This is another bracket where the best match might just be in the semi finals.  A pair of one loss titans will likely square off when Mishawaka’s 4th ranked Tristan Macri battles 6th ranked Chris Katsafaros in a rematch of the Al Smith finals back in December.  Conditioning appeared to play a factor in Macri’s narrow win so if Cheese Towner has that part of his game tightened up, expect a donnybrook.

The other side of the bracket will likely pit Lowell senior and 9th ranked Mitch Roadruck against the winner of the top ticket round match between Penn’s Joey Mammolenti and Portage’s Stephon Wilkins.

Winner – Macri
Runner UP – Roadruck
#3 – Katsafaros
#4 – Mammolenti
lockMike’s Cold Hard Locks
1. Chris Katsafaros- Chesterton
2. Mitch Roadruck- Lowell
3. Tristan Macri- Mishawaka
4. Joe Mammolenti- Penn




The 152 pound class might be a mirror image of the the 138 pound class with Rochester regional foes squaring off again under the lights at Merrillville.  South Bend Adams’ 11th ranked Sam Ferdig is a long, lean and mean tilting machine and his conference foe is Penn’s stout grinder Trevor Manspeaker.  The only thing preventing a finals match up for the third week in a row is a Bulldog named Schurg from Crown Point.  Schurg the Elder (Dustin) is the class of this bracket and will be standing on top of the podium Saturday night.  His conference rival, Danny Roach of Portage is the likely 4th member of this class to make his way to Indy.

Winner – Schurg
Runner UP – Ferdig
Third – Manspeaker
#4 – Roach
lockMike’s Cold Hard Locks
1. Dustin Schurg- Crown Point
2. Danny Roach- Portage
3. Sam Ferdig- Adams
4. Trevor Manspeaker- Penn



In the northern half of the state, this weight class has been owned by Kenny Hughes of Lowell.  The #2 ranked Hughes has pinned most of his opponents this year and this semi state bracket will be his for the taking.  Hughes has separated himself from the field.  He will likely face conference rival Mark Maldonado of Highland in the semis.  Maldo’s lone loss on the season is to Hughes.

In the top half of the bracket, Bishop Noll’s Damien Gomez is likely to repeat in his bid for spot at Banker’s Life.  The last spot is really a toss up as three talented ranked grapplers will duke it out.  South Bend Riley’s Chase Hack, Merrillville’s Matthew Hollins, and Crown Point’s Dax Jones all have a realistic shot punching their respective ticket to Indy.

Winner – Hughes
Runner UP – Gomez
#3 – Maldonado
#4 – Hack
lockMike’s Cold Hard Locks
1. Kenny Hughes- Lowell
2. Damien Gomez- Bishop Noll
3. Mark Maldonado- Highland
4. Matthew Hollins- Merrillville




The third of my stone cold lead pipe locks is at 170 with the ultra talented and top ranked Merrillville Pirate, Bobby Steveson.  His likely finals foe is longtime rival Scottie Sopko of Hobart.  Sopko had a hiccup at the Al Smith tournament but has been locked in ever since.  Sopko should face a ticket round challenge from Rochester regional champ, Jeff Wiseman of Penn.

The other state qualifiers are more of a toss up as LaPorte’s talented junior Mike Eldridge is likely to be pushed in his opener versus Kelly Kolat of South Bend Washington and conference rival Jeff Brassea of Lake Central.  The final quarter bracket looks to be wide open.

Winner – Steveson
Runner UP – Sopko
Third – Mark Hurford
Fourth – Mike Eldridge
lockMike’s Cold Hard Locks
1. Bobby Steveson- Merrillville
2. Scottie Sopko- Hobart
3. Mike Eldridge- LaPorte
4. Jade Doty- West Lafayette



Senior two time state finalist Matt Hurford of Culver Community looks to be the class of the field at 182.  The top ranked Cavalier will look to be a semi state champ for the first time.  He will likely face the winner of the Tyler Scott/Exvonte Jones ticket round battle.  I feel that Scott will be the winner in a tightly contested match.

The other half of the bracket features Hobart senior Tony Rodriguez who will be tested by South Bend St. Joseph or Kankakee Valley’s Tim Schoonveld in a ticket round tilt.  The final spot has set up nicely for Crown Point’s Matt Langbehn.

Winner – Hurford
Runner UP – Rodriguez
Third – Scott
Fourth – Langbehn
lockMike’s Cold Hard Locks
1. Matt Hurford- Culver Community
2. Antonio Rodriguez- Hobart
3. Exvonte Jones- Portage
4. Matt Langbehn- Crown Point



The 195 class returns a couple of wrestlers with state level experience.  Last year’s semi state runner up, Jacob Ricks of Benton Central appears on a collision course with Crown Point’s undefeated sophomore, Morgan Kral.  Ricks lone loss on the season was to Mason Nickell of Roncalli at the Connersville Classic.  Kral has proved his mettle in a few close matches this season.

The top quarter bracket has set up nicely for Lowell’s big man, Ryan Patterson.  He will likely face Merrillville grinder Alex Jara in a ticket round matchup.  South Bend Clay’s Jaylin Allen will look to join the Hartman brothers on the floor of Bankers Life but might be tested in the ticket round if Twin Lakes’ Kevin Winkle is healthy.

Winner – Ricks
Runner UP – Kral
#3 – Allen
#4 – Ryan Patterson
lockMike’s Cold Hard Locks
1. Jacob Ricks- Benton Central
2. Jaylin Allen- Clay
3. Ryan Patterson- Lowell
4. Morgan Kral- Crown Point



The last of the stone cold lead pipe locks is at 220 where Lake Central’s electric Gelen Robinson is a man among boys in this bracket.  Robinson is one of the most exciting wrestlers in the state.  We shall see if anyone wants to go toe to toe, chest to chest with the big Indian.  His first round opponent, Tyler Schmitt is a talented thrower in his own right so get your popcorn early for a potential show.

The second quarter bracket should feature an excellent ticket round tilt when Mishawaka’s Braxton Eby will likely face Kankakee Valley’s Matt Berdine.  The bottom half of the bracket will likely pit LaPorte’s Benni Standifer against South Bend Adams’ Kenan Boyd.

Winner – Robinson
Runner UP – Kenan Boyd
3rd – Braxton Eby
4th – Benni Standifer
lockMike’s Cold Hard Locks
1. Gelen Robinson- Lake Central
2. Roberto Yanez- River Forest
3. Braxton Eby- Mishawaka
4. Seth Meyer- Harrison



Can the legend of the Rochester Regional and Merrillville semi state continue in 2013?  The regional and semi state have produced the last two state champions in the big boy division.  The regional’s best hope lies in mammoth Shakir Carr of South Bend Clay.  The D-1 football recruit battled to the end and won the Rochester regional in exciting fashion.  By doing so, Carr avoided the toughest quarter bracket which includes Merrillville’s freshman phenom Shawn Streck, West Lafayette’s John Duvall and South Bend Adams’ Kali Boyd.  The other two quarter brackets have set up nicely for Chesterton’s athletic Riley Harlow and Hanover Central’s Josh Bartoszek.

Winner – Streck
Runner UP – Carr
3rd – Bartoszek
4th – Harlow

lockMike’s Cold Hard Locks
1. Shawn Streck- Merrillville
2. Shakir Carr- Clay
3. Joshua Bartoszek- Hanover Central
4. Riley Harlow- Chesterton