News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

January 22, 2014

Nailing it: Terre Haute South rebounds from early setback to claim ‘Hammer’ trophy

TERRE HAUTE — After Terre Haute North 120-pounder J.J. Low opened Wednesday’s high school wrestling meet with a 6-1 decision, host Terre Haute South found itself trailing 3-0 on the scoreboard during its Senior Night.

That didn’t last long, however.

Coach Gabe Cook’s Braves followed the loss with a parade of weight-class victories — five straight, to be exact — on their way to posting a 55-21 triumph, enabling them to retain the prestigious “Hammer” trophy that goes to the winner of this annual rivalry showdown.

“The seniors all came out and wrestled hard,” Cook told the Tribune-Star afterward. “Everybody wrestled hard from the first whistle to the last. That’s what we talked about before the match.”

“We like to keep the southside pride,” South senior Phoenix Adams emphasized. “We worked hard to get this [Hammer] and keep it for four years and we’d like to keep it on the south side.”

“Phoenix Adams had a really good match for him personally,” Cook added. “He avenged a loss from a year ago, so I know he’s happy.”

Adams, ranked sixth in the state in his class, improved his mark to 30-1 by posting a hard-fought 5-0 decision over senior Tyler Gilmore at 152. In the 2013 dual match between these schools, Adams lost a decision to Gilmore.

“I knew I had more energy and I had faith in my technique,” Adams said about Wednesday’s battle.

“This past weekend, [Gilmore] wrestled the No. 1 kid in the state at 145 and gave him a really good match. I knew I would have a tough match against him. He’s a strong wrestler. He knows what he’s doing.”

“It was a good match,” North coach Mark Frisz said. “Tyler wanted this match [even bumping up one class to get it]. He wanted to wrestle it. You want to see those kinds of matches — with two really good kids. Phoenix is one of the top-ranked guys in the state and Tyler is a great wrestler too.”

Meanwhile, South senior Duane Deerwester also expressed joy over South being able to keep the Hammer, which was not named after a famous dancing singer from the early 1990s.

“It’s great being able to retain it here,” stressed Deerwester, who scored a second-period pin over Luke Nelson at 170. “That was actually my goal as a freshman varsity starter — to keep the Hammer here all four years, at least ‘til I graduate.”

Deerwester is now 23-5 for the season.

Ian Newton, who boosted his 2013-14 record to 22-9, is another South senior who shined Wednesday.

He needed only 40 seconds to register a pin for the win at 138.

The Patriots forfeited two classes — 126 (where South junior Nic Church got the victory) and 113 (giving South freshman Keagan Koenig a win) — but got pins by Sean Elia at 160, Dakota Londo at 220 and freshman Conor Dwyer at 285.

Other South winners were senior Cory Orndorff (second-period pin at 132), junior C.J. Williams (major decision at 145), junior Sean Young (first-period pin at 182), senior Jacob Givens (second-period pin after falling behind 4-2 at 195) and junior Darin Pemberton (second-period pin after building a 13-1 lead at 106).

Noting the variety of classes that South picked up wins, Deerwester credited the squad’s depth for producing the convincing final score.

“We go in the wrestling room and work hard every day,” he mentioned. “Everybody’s getting better every day.”

It should be noted that the Patriots were missing three of their top wrestlers because of injuries and one prior commitment, although Frisz did not want to use that as an excuse.

“The effort was good,” he assessed. “We had to move guys around [to different classes] and fill some holes in the lineup. But South’s got a really strong team and they wrestled very well. We knew it was going to be tough. The only thing I’m disappointed in is the fundamental things we do that we need to correct in practice. … I was not too disappointed in the way we wrestled. We knew it was going to be an uphill climb going in.”

“They’ve had some bad luck the last couple weeks,” Cook said of the Patriots. “Three of their best guys, for sure, were out … but that’s not our fault. We’ve been battling some injuries. We’re fortunate to have everybody back.”

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