CALUMET TWP. | If winning is contagious, the Fuqua brothers at Crown Point moved into a hotbed of it and are rabid under the affliction's grip.
The transfers from Bloom Twp. in Chicago Heights are blending in perfectly with the No. 1 wrestling team in the state. The timing couldn't be better as they've joined a talented Bulldogs team that includes defending state champions Eric Roach and Jason Tsirtsis, who wrestle just after the elder Fuqua, Jake, a junior.
Jake Fuqua, already ranked sixth in the state at 135 pounds by Indianamat.com, showed he's worthy of contender status by going 4-1 and scoring the clinching win of the championship dual meet as the Bulldogs won the 21st annual Chris Traicoff Memorial Tournament on Saturday at Calumet.
Although his parents changed addresses to get their kids out of a rough neighborhood and into a better one, Jake already knows his potential at his new campus.
"(Coming to Crown Point) has been a great thing for me," he said. "Now I want to win state."
Fuqua literally rode out a 1-0 win, proving unbeatable from the top position, against IHSWCA state No. 3 (Indianamat.com No. 5) and defending team state champ Mishawaka to put the ‘Dogs up 31-15 in an eventual 43-15 win. The battle of the last two team state titlists started with the 152-pound match. In 2008-09 when C.P. won state, the Bulldogs did not win the Traicoff. Saturday was the program's first win at the grueling event.
"Josh is a great wrestler," C.P. coach Scott Vlink said. "It's been great to pick up two guys like that."
The elder Fuqua was a win away from state as a freshman at Bloom and then suffered a season-ending meniscus tear that required surgery last winter.
"Both me and my brother have great workout partners," Jake Fuqua said. "It makes us better, shape-wise and conditioning-wise."
Fuqua's freshman brother, Josh, went 5-0 at 103. Other unbeaten Bulldogs were Colton Saroff (112), Tsirtsis (140), Josh Flamme (145 and 152) and Roach (145 and 152), Dustin Schurg (160) and Tyler Kral (215). Jake Shrewsbury was 4-1 but had a huge win at 171 pounds against Mishawaka, winning 4-3 against 160-pound No. 16 Tyler Reinoehl as C.P. scored the title match's first 22 points.
The 16-team event was bracketed for two rounds, which determined round-robin groups. C.P. rolled its opponents 81-0, 62-9, 50-14 and 45-12 en route to the final match and the only 5-0 finish.
Third through sixth places went to state-caliber out-of-area teams, and Munster beat Portage 43-28 in the seventh-place match. The state's 13th-ranked 112-pounder, Aurelio Medina, finished 5-0 for the Mustangs.
"Other kids were tired, and I went after them," Medina said. "The key was just keeping the same mentality and staying focused."
Portage had a rough day that included a 32-32 tie that went to several tiebreakers, and Westfield had more technical falls and therefore prevailed 33-32. The round before that, the Indians lost 29-25 to Cathedral in a dual that came down to the final match.
"That kind of deflated us right there," Portage coach Pat Wilkins said. "It was a rough day."