CEDAR LAKE — Aleksandar Pejovski knew he needed to keep a level head.
After Lake Central’s Josh Daniels caught him with a throw during the 126-pound final at the Lake County Championships, the Merrillville junior just tried to stay within himself.
“I just kept it simple, kept calm and battled back,” he said. “I know I can get after guys. Once we get into that third period, it’s all mine because I train at Merrillville and we don’t get tired.”
The Pirates collective stamina was on display in the 20-team tournament Saturday at Hanover Central. Pejovski won 12-9 and was one of four individual champions for Merrillville, which took home the top team prize with 268 points. Hobart was second with 260.
“We’re wrestling pretty good, but we can always improve,” Pejovski said. “We can always get back in the room and put in more work. When it comes to the postseason, we’ll bang it from there.”
Other Merrillville champs included Khris Walton at 182 pounds, Jevonte Williams at 195 and Jason Streck at 220.
The second-place Brickies’ only winner was Ruben Padilla at 120 pounds. He beat Lake Central’s Sebastian Cortez 5-0 in the championship match. It was Padilla’s third win over Cortez this season.
“I knew he was going to come at me so I had to go in hard,” Padilla said. “This is a big tournament for me because of (Cortez), mainly. Me and him being so close in the last two matches, I wanted to win.”
Lowell’s Shawn Hollis was the 152-pound champion, pinning Hobart’s Tyler Turley in the third period. Hollis said he wasn’t 100 percent after dealing with an illness that left him with a 102-degree fever earlier in the week.
“Nobody can catch me when I’m at my best,” he said. “My chest is all congested. My head hurts, stomach pains, but as soon as the adrenaline rush kicks in, it’s all gone.”
It was the fourth time the two have met this year. The series is split 2-2.
“He’s a good wrestler. I’ll give that to him. He’s strong,” Hollis said. “I know he’s tough and I’ve been watching him.”
The public address announcer introduced Hanover Central’s Ryan Breedlove as the “hometown hero” and he lived up to the billing in the 160-pound final.
The senior earned a 2-0 sudden victory win over Hobart’s Hayden Homoky with a late takedown that ignited the Wildcat faithful.
“It was pretty scary. I’m honestly not that great in overtime but I capitalized there,” Breedlove said. “It means a lot (to win at home). There are a lot of fans out here, obviously, and that big cheer (when I won) felt great.”
Lake Central finished third with 215 points, followed by Rensselaer with 175. Highland and Lowell tied for fifth with 158 1/2 points.