1. Crown Point
The Bulldogs are loaded in the lower classes. CP is led by sophomore Jesse Mendez (132), whose family is probably considering an addition on the house for a new trophy room. The freshman class is strong, as well.
The Pirates are always among the top teams in the Region. Malik Hall (113/120), Jacob Maldonado (145/152) and Jason Streck (195) are all returning state qualifiers. The roster is full of capable athletes.
Brock Ellis (145) is the state favorite in his class and Evan Bates (195) isn’t far from it. Nick Winland (160) and Ethan Kaiser (138) can wrestle with anyone in their classes in the area.
The Brickies just got a few important additions to the room with the conclusion of football season. Bobby Babcock (220), Jacob Simpson (170), Cameron Smith (182) and Tyler Turley (152) will keep Hobart in any dual.
The Red Devils return four semistate qualifiers, led by Abel Verbeek (170). Bryer Stoner is moving up to 285 while Hunter Rohweder drops to 182. Shawn Hollis is formidable at 152, as well.
The Indians lost quite a bit to graduation and former coach Leroy Vega is now at Purdue. Coach Andrew Bradbury’s squad will be anchored by 2019 state qualifiers Ty Haskins (120) and Damari Dancy (285).
Colin Kwiatkowski is a returning state-qualifier at 170 pounds. Stefan Vitello (113) and Jak Krouse (138) each wrestled in last year’s semistate. Football’s run to state will slow the early season.
8. Lake Central
Cristian Ponce (145) is the only state-ranked wrestler preseason and the Indians will have to navigate a tough Duneland Athletic Conference schedule, but the roster is no pushover.
9. Kankakee Valley
Aiden Sneed (170) lost in the ticket round at the E.C. Central semistate. He’s ranked No. 3 in the class in the semistate. Sophomore Cole Solomy (113) is No. 6.
The Gladiators have a pair of wrestlers ranked in the semistate preseason in Hayden Lewter (220) and Juan Simpson (132).
Fr., 106, Crown Point
Goin enters high school ranked No. 1 in the state at 106 pounds by Indiana Mat. He’s a decorated wrestler already, with ISWA freestyle and folkstyle cadet state titles.
So., 106, River Forest
His freshman season ended prematurely a year ago with a ticket round loss to Culver Academy’s Brennen Cernus at semistate. Bailey was 30-6.
Fr., 113, Crown Point
A runner up at USAW preseason nationals and five-time ISWA state champ, Frazier is part of a talented freshman class for the Bulldogs.
Sr., 120, Crown Point
Bettich finished fifth at 120 last season after moving to the county hub from Michigan. He’s ranked No. 2 in the weight class preseason.
Sr., 120, Wheeler
A two-time state qualifier who finished on the podium (eighth) as a sophomore, Diaz has unfinished business after having his junior season cut short by injury in the opening round of last year’s state finals.
Sr., 113/120, Merrillville
Hall battled for a sixth-place finish at 106 pounds in 2019. The goal is a return to Banker’s Life Fieldhouse for one of the Pirates’ senior leaders.
Sr., 120, Portage
Haskins is another returning state qualifier in a loaded 120-pound weight class for the area. He’ll try to make the second day of the state tournament for the first time.
Jr., 126, Crown Point
In the state series, Roberson won’t see a wrestler ranked higher than he in the preseason until Banker’s Life. He was seventh at 106 in 2019.
So., 132, Crown Point
The biggest name in region wrestling was rarely challenged en route to an undefeated state championship last season. He had another outstanding summer and is the heavy favorite at 132.
Jr., 145/152, Chesterton
Ellis is a two-time state qualifier who finished fourth at 152 last season. He’ll contend for a state title at either 152 or 145, where he’s ranked No. 1 in the state preseason.
Sr., 145/152, Merrillville
The scrappy wrestler is a returning state qualifier with higher expectations for his senior year. His points will be big for the Pirates in duals.
Sr., 152, Crown Point
Hollendoner was a state qualifier at 152 last season. His points will be needed for Crown Point to be as dominant in duals as it hopes to be.
Jr., 152, Hobart
Turley gets a late start on his wrestling season due to the Brickies deep football run. He’s a hard-nosed wrestler who looks to make a jump as a junior. He was a semistate qualifier in 2019.
Sr., 170, Lowell
Verbeek lost on Friday at the state finals at 160 as a junior. He’s ranked No. 9 in the state and No. 2 in the E.C. Central semistate by Indiana Mat and will be the Northwest Crossroads Conference favorite at 170.
Jr. 170, Kankakee Valley
Sneed flew under the radar to win the 2019 Crown Point regional championship and a semistate qualifier. He’s ranked No. 3 in the semistate bracket this year.
Jr., 170/182, Valparaiso
The only returning area wrestler who qualified for state at 170 pounds may move up to 182 after he returns from football. He aims to control either class in the DAC.
Jr., 195, Chesterton
Bates finished third in the state at 182 last season and is No. 2 in the state at 195 this year. He went 50-4 during his sophomore campaign.
Jr., 195, Merrillville
The next in the family line for the Pirates was a state qualifier as a sophomore. Streck will compete for a state title this season. He’s ranked No. 6 by Indiana Mat.
Jr., 220, Hobart
Like Turley, Babcock was still on the gridiron with the Brickies until last week. He’ll be the area favorite at 220 when he gets into wrestling shape.
Sr., 285, Portage
Dancy dances his way to heavyweight after qualifying for state at 220 as a junior. The class is loaded statewide. Fortunately for Dancy, most of the top end resides in the other parts of Indiana.