VALPARAISO | There's a new top dog at the Duneland Athletic Conference tournament, and that dog's a Pirate.
On the strength of eight champions, Merrillville ended Crown Point's four-year run, topping the Bulldogs, 252.5-240.
"At this time of year, a win like this, against a program like Crown Point, is huge," Pirates coach David Maldonado said. "The attitude we've had all year is, don't worry about the team score, don't worry about the match score. Worry about the fight. That's what you're going to remember."
The Pirates got a boost with the return of Kourtney Berry, but the 195-pound champ shared the spotlight.
At 106, Michael Garza reversed a loss to Portage's Eric Peek with a 7-0 victory.
"It's always important to score first, but you can't coast when you get a lead," Garza said. "I coasted the last time and he capitalized."
Zac Sandefur (152) also evened a score with a 6-2 win over Chesterton's Chris Katsafaros, who had beaten him twice, once by pin.
Adam Garcia escaped in the third period to edge C.P.'s Josh Fuqua 5-4 at 120 in a key swing match.
"It's just being physical," Garcia said. "That gives me the edge most of the time."
Bucs freshman Bobby Steveson claimed another head-to-head clash with C.P., downing Dusty Schurg 11-7 at 160.
"For me, it wasn't impressive," Steveson said. "He should've scored less often. I'm not satisfied just winning conference. I want to win a state title. Then maybe I'll be satisfied."
The Bulldogs, who were without 152 contender Jake Fuqua, garnered four titles. Jason Tsirtsis (145) claimed his fourth.
"To be honest, it's just a stepping stone," Tsirtsis said. "These things don't mean anything unless you continue to get better, keep pushing to accomplish your goals in February."
Teammate Tyler Kral stayed undefeated, controlling Lake Central's Gelen Robinson 3-1 at 220.
"It's a better match each time we wrestle," Kral said. "I had to come out strong, have a positive mental attitude and just wrestle my match."
L.C. took the remaining two weights with unbeaten 126 Kyle Ayersman also securing his fourth DAC crown.
"It's one of the toughest conferences in the state," Ayersman said. "I definitely wanted to win four."