CALUMET TWP. | The region threw everything it could at Franklin in Saturday's Chris Traicoff Memorial Invitational at Calumet. And the Grizzly Cubs fought off all opposition en route to the championship.
"Franklin is tough. Going up and down their lineup, they don't have a weak spot," Portage coach Leroy Vega said. "They came in here, did what they needed to do and they won. You've got to hand it to them."
Crown Point trailed its fourth round meeting with Franklin 29-3 at one point and battled back to 29-28 before Jake Stevenson bested Patrick McCulver at 152 to give the Grizzly Cubs a 34-28 win.
"We gave up too many bonus points (to Franklin) and that's one of the things we always preach," Bulldogs coach Scott Vlink said. "If we don't give up bonus points, we win that match."
C.P. won six straight matches over Franklin to keep it close, including Morgan Kral's win at 195.
"It's a heartbreaker, but we win as a team and lose as a team," Kral said. "If we wrestled them again, I think we could beat them."
The Bulldogs came into the day ranked No. 3 in the state by Indianamat.com. Franklin was ranked No. 4.
"It's a long day and there's no easy matches," Vlink said. "You'd better be ready to wrestle and everyone's going to get a little sore and stiff, have some aches and pains but you've got to fight through them."
The Cubs had to deal with Portage in the final round, and the Indians made a similar comeback to the one Crown Point had earlier.
Portage cut an 18-3 lead down to 21-20 when Danny Roach got a pin at 152.
"We came in here today seeded fifth, beat Mishawaka, who was fourth, lose by one point to the No. 3-ranked team in the state in Crown Point, and we were in right to the end with Franklin, who is fourth in the state," Vega said. "We're close, but we're not where we want to be. The expectation just got pushed up a little bit higher and now we've got to get better."
Crown Point finished second and Portage third. Westfield rounded out the top tier at fourth. Valparaiso was eighth, Lowell 10th, Calumet 13th, Munster 14th, Lake Station 15th and Highland 16th.