LAPORTE | Last year, Roberto Espinosa felt like the odd man out for Portage after the LaPorte Sectional.
"I didn't even make it out," he said. "I was the only one on the team."
That was no issue Saturday for Espinosa, who was among six Indians to claim weight class titles. The Portage 160-pounder reversed Chesterton freshman Dax Jones with two seconds left in sudden death overtime to pull out a 5-3 victory.
"I didn't want to win like that," Espinosa said. "I expected to do a lot better than I did. That wasn't the game plan, but I'll take it. I looked at the clock and said to myself, 'I've got to go. This is it.'"
Portage handily won its fourth-straight team championship and first under Leroy Vega as coach. The Indians amassed 271 points, 75 more than runner-up New Prairie.
"I'm happy," Vega said. "We're excited to be wrestling Merrillville (in the team regional). I believed everybody could win, all 14 of them. Now they have to believe it. We have big goals. We expect to win sectional titles. We're going to work as hard as we can to win a state title some day."
Louis Escobedo (113), Dylan Logsdon (120), Julian Torres (126), Jason Spence (132) and Zach Thorn (145) all finished first for Portage, which dominated the lower weights.
Logsdon (22-9), a tall 120-pounder at 6-foot, cradled John Glenn's Myles White (31-3) to his back at 3 minutes, 1 second.
"I have a longer reach than most guys," Logsdon said. "I was trying to set up (the cradle). I felt it was a lot easier (here) after all the tough guys I've gone against. They didn't seem as tough."
Escobedo, Spence and Thorn also won as second seeds. Torres outlasted Michigan City's Kenny Smith 10-9, breaking an 8-8 tie with a takedown at the 5:40 mark.
"I explained to all the kids: We wrestle probably the toughest schedule in the state," Vega said. "Records don't matter here. It all comes down to toughness, who wants it more."
LaPorte followed Portage with three champs. Chesterton picked up a pair with Joe Kelly (138) and Chris Katsafaros (152).
Kelly (14-1), whose mat time has been limited by a bruised knee bone, pinned Portage's Danny Roach in 1:08, the quickest fall of the finals.
"I felt pretty confident," Kelly said. "I just wanted to come out and set the tempo from the start. I've been going pretty hard in the room. I've had to make some technical adjustments with my knee, and it's actually made me a more all-around wrestler."
Katsafaros (27-4), the 135 champ last year, spladled North Judson's Brenner Cruse (29-4) at 4:35, his third stick in as many matches.
"I wasn't afraid if he grabbed my leg because I could defend it with (the spladle)," Katsafaros said. "I just had to go out and do my moves. If it was there, take it."
Portage advanced 13 wrestlers to the Crown Point Regional. Chesterton qualified nine.