Tucked both geographically and competitively among the big-school powerhouses of the region, Hanover Central has carved a solid niche in local wrestling.
With three qualifiers for this weekend's state finals -- only Merrillville and Crown Point have more from area schools -- the Wildcats will be represented in Indianapolis for the ninth consecutive year.
"It's pretty sweet," undefeated senior Paul Petrov said. "Most people at school take us for granted. We've been performing since (former assistant) coach (John) Willems was there. We've had great performers from our school, representing our school."
After finishing second as a sophomore and fourth as a junior, the 120-pound Petrov hopes to take the next step in his last shot at a state title. He'll prepare with fellow unbeaten Stevan Micic (106) and his brother George, a state qualifier at H.C. who now helps out with the team.
"Stevan's stronger than he looks," Petrov said. "He's got the (Justin) Bieber hair flip. He's a scrawny, skinny kid, but he's got a strong grip."
Micic, who placed third at 103 last season, came into the season thinking big after winning a Cadet (98 pounds) title at Fargo Nationals in the summer.
"That gave me a lot of confidence," Micic said. "(State)'s been my goal since the beginning of the year. I've put in a lot of time, trying to better my technique, increase my (work) load, every practice, every match."
The final chapters: C.P.'s Jason Tsirtsis is trying to become just the third region wrestler to win four state titles, joining his brother Alex (2004) and Angel Escobedo (2005) of Griffith.
"One more," Tsirtsis said. "It's been a long road, but a good one. I'm excited to be there. I'm trying not to think about the hype, my goals, until I get there. The guys that come in the most mentally prepared are going to do the best."
Only six local wrestlers have captured three championships. Lake Central's Kyle Ayersman (126) looks to be the seventh.
"It's exciting to see how I actually do against the top guys in the state," Ayersman said. "I match up good with everyone there. I should be ready to go."
Keeping it simple: Merrillville's undefeated 195-pounder Kourtney Berry has a game plan that sounds as easy as the way he wins matches.
"Just do my job once again, listen to the coaches and work hard," Berry said.
Oh, brother: Five brother tandems competed in Saturday's Merrillville Semistate. Alex and Chris Katsafaros probably were the least acclaimed of the group, but the Chesterton siblings were the only ones to qualify for state. Alex, a sophomore 145, and Chris, a junior 152, both advanced by placing fourth in their respective weight classes.