CEDAR LAKE | In past years during conference championship weekend for wrestling, Hanover Central would make the trek to Illinois and compete in tournaments there.
It was a successful debut for the small powerhouse program in its first Greater South Shore Conference Tournament, as Times No. 5 Hanover Central won it going away on Saturday with a whopping 332.5 points.
"I'm really glad for the guys because it's nice to win in their first conference tournament," Hanover Central coach Nick Petrov said.
The host Wildcats had eight individual champions out of the 14 weight classes, including 126-pound and Northwestern-bound Stevan Micic, who pinned Lake Station's Jason Alaniz in 1:19, which increased his career record to a massive 166-5 and 30-0 this season.
"This is a big confidence booster for us. I'm gonna prepare the same way and we're gonna practice hard, so we can all have a good run," two-time state champion Micic said.
Isaac Cortez (106), Chris Ruiz (113), DJ Neal (120), Evan Larsen (145), AJ Goeders (160), Ashton Mutuwa (170), and Tyler Scott (195) round out the winners for Hanover Central.
"Having 11 in the finals gives us a really good feeling going into sectionals," said Petrov. "They're as ready as they're ever gonna be for the state series."
Last year's conference champs, Calumet had another impressive showing as well, tallying 272 points.
The Warriors notched three individual champs including Nick Fowler (182), Doriante Bryant (138), and Alec Noworul (132), who beat Hanover Central's Kyle Brewster in the most exciting match of the day in a 3-2 bout in overtime.
"He (Brewster) beat me earlier in the week and I knew if I could get away from him, I could squeak out a win," said Noworul.
All three aforementioned Warriors won their third career conference titles, including Bryant, who pinned Hanover's John Reeves in 4:32.
"In the past I always used to doubt myself, but now I'm feeling pretty confident," said Bryant. "I practiced a lot during the summer and coach said I'm getting better flow and technique."
Other champions included Wheeler's Ryan Gough (152), Lake Station's Jonah Shultz (220), and River Forest's Robert Yanez, who moved his record to 26-0 on the season in the heavyweight division.