Historic Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana was the setting for the 2012 edition of the NWCA Brute Scholastic Duals National Championship. Eighteen teams from ten states slugged it out during seven rounds of fierce action. When the smoke cleared, Illinois Navy, champions in 2010 and runners-up in 2011, regained the coveted team title.
Navy used the strength of their upper weights and all around team balance to twice win four matches in a row, and toughed out a 33-24 victory over a game but overmatched Indiana Gold. Navy won three matches by a 3-2 margin, showcasing their exceptional timing and mental toughness. Navy featured three state champions and a roster populated entirely of wrestlers with impressive state tournament results. The talent level was on display as they were only seriously challenged the entire tournament by Indiana Gold.
Illinois Navy finished the day undefeated as a team, and featured undefeated individual performances from five of their upper-weight athletes: Hunter Rollins (Hersey) at 160 (AAA 5th place, 2012), Cameron Mammen (Urbana) at 170 (AA 5th in 2012), Jordan Ellingwood (Plainfield Central) at 182 (AAA 3rd, 2012), Blake Blair (Edwardsville) at 195 (AA 2nd, 2012) and Hinsdale Central’s heavyweight Brian Allen (AAA 3rd, 2012). Blair was chosen by Illinois coaches to be their nominee for Most Outstanding Wrestler, as he was dominant nearly the entire tournament.
2011 champions and runners up in 2010, Indiana Gold was clearly second best at this year’s tournament. Led by undefeated state champion Isaiah Bradley (Muncie South), Gold was largely in control of their matches, until they ran into the Navy buzz-saw. While the impressive Bradley (Gold’s MOW candidate) was their lone state champion and lone undefeated competitor, several wrestlers finished the day with just one loss, including 106 Hayden Lee (Garrett, 3rd in 2012), 145 Vinny Corsaro (Cathedral, 2nd in 2012), 160 Bobby Stevenson (Merrillville, 5th 2012), 170 Jake Masengale (Perry Meridian, 2nd, 2012), 195 Jacob Lumpkin (Shenandoah, state qualifier 2012) and 220 Gelen Robinson (Lake Central, 3rd 2012).
Kentucky was an impressive third place squad, featuring a roster stacked with an impressive amount of talent. Led by deserving Most Outstanding Wrestler, 120 pound Brock Ervin, a two-time undefeated state champion from Union County, the Kentucky Blue squad was formidable. Joining Ervin with a clean sheet was eye-opening freshman 220 pounder Austin Myers. Watch out for this 2012 undefeated state champion from Campbell County in the coming years. One loss competitors from the Bluegrass State included: 132 Jayce Carr (Union County, 2012 state champion), 145 Kevin Cooper (Simon Kenton, 2012 state champion) and 152 Stephen Myers (Campbell County, 2012 state champion, 2011 Ohio state champion).
Indiana Blue finished fourth and was led by undefeated New Palestine 106 lb. wrestler Tommy Cash (5th, 2012). Virginia was fifth and paced by undefeated 145 lber Derek Arnold (Westfield, 2012 AAA 3rd). Colorado rounded out the Gold Pool with a sixth place finish and were led by one-loss wrestlers 120 PT Garcia (Bear Creek, 2012 5A state champion) and 182 Garet Krohn (Arvada, 2X 5A state champion). Other undefeated wrestlers were: Delaware 152 Vinny Casey (Wilmington Charter, 4th 2012), Illinois Orange’s 113 Mark Duda (Marist, 2012 AAA 2nd), 170 Joe Ariola (Oak Park, 2012 AAA state qualifier), 195 Jake Davis (Sycamore, 2012 AAA 4th) and 285 Cole Whitford (Granite City, 2012 sectional qualifier), New Jersey’s 160 Brandon Simon (JFK, 2012 District Champion, Fargo Greco Cadet All-American), Ohio 1030’s 132 Austin Reese (Mechanicsburg, 2012 State Div. 3 2nd), Ohio Titans 195 Arron Tschantz (Barberton, 2012 State Div. 1 6th), Indiana Renegades Blue’s 126 Devin Broukal (Bloomington South, 2012 7th) and the Combined Blue Team’s HWT Donte Winfield (Perry Meridian, 2012 state qualifier).
While the event was an unqualified success, there was an unfortunate development which occurred before the initial whistle was blown. Illinois wrestler Michael Sepke was seriously injured on Thursday when he was hit by a car while crossing the street to his hotel. Sepke (Montini), an AAA 4th place finisher in 2012, grievously damaged his pelvis and underwent surgery in Indianapolis on Friday. Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family, as he continues to convalesce.