CALUMET TWP. | The Chris Traicoff Invitational isn't supposed to be easy for region teams. The best teams in the state have always been invited to the annual event.
Franklin, ranked No. 6 in the state in Indiana Mat's team power rankings, drove almost three hours in the snow Saturday morning to win the tournament for the second straight season. The Grizzly Cubs went 5-0 on the day, including wins over Lake Station, Valparaiso, Portage and Crown Point.
Franklin beat top-ranked Indianapolis Cathedral in the final 37-31.
Portage fought off Crown Point 31-30 for third place. Neither team was at its full strength.
"We're a young team and to come in here and wrestle some top-ranked teams, it's pretty amazing what we did to place third," Indians coach Leroy Vega said. "My mentality, though, is that I want to win. I'm happy that we fought, but I always want to win and I want to get these guys to be winners."
Portage tallied the day's biggest surprise with a 37-28 over Mishawaka, ranked No. 12 in Indiana.
The Bulldogs started in a 12-0 hole all afternoon because of injuries and at one point trailed Portage 25-9, but couldn't complete the comeback. Crown Point kept things tight with Cathedral, losing 35-28.
"I'm not disappointed. I thought we wrestled well," C.P. coach Scott Vlink said. "It's discouraging to lose, obviously, but we're not disappointed in our kids' efforts in any way, shape or form."
Crown Point 195-pounder Morgan Kral went 5-0 --including three pins-- on the day to remain undefeated for the season. He won his other matches 15-9 and 3-0.
"I worked pretty hard today to come in here and win all my matches," Kral said. "Our lineup's not fully set, due to injuries, so hopefully next time (against Portage) when we have a full lineup, we'll be ready to go."
Calumet coach Jim Wadkins said he was proud to host the Traicoff for the 25th year. The tournament is named for former Calumet coach and national champion Chris Traicoff.
"Chris Traicoff was kind of the father of our athletic department," Wadkins said. "It's been a very fitting legacy to spread his name throughout the state. The guy built the building that we're standing in."
Among other local teams, Valparaiso finished eighth, Hanover Central ninth, Calumet 13th, Munster 14th, River Forest 15th and Lake Station 16th.