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Mendez leads Crown Point contingent into state quarterfinals
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Prep wrestling | State Finals

Mendez leads Crown Point contingent into state quarterfinals

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Jesse Mendez is eyeing another state title, but he was also busy consulting with his Crown Point teammates during Friday's first round of the state finals.

Mendez, who won the 126-pound state title last year as a freshman, pinned Brody Arthur of Oak Hill in 50 seconds at 132 to advance to Saturday's quarterfinals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The Bulldogs advanced six wrestlers to the quarterfinals, and coach Branden Lorek said Mendez's words of encouragement were important to teammates.

"Jesse was in the tunnel talking to some guys," Lorek said. "If they were nervous, he just reminded them what they are capable of doing and how hard they have trained. To have someone like Jesse is invaluable. No coach can give that kind of experience."

Stephen Roberson and Nolan Hollendonner also advanced via fall for the Bulldogs. Roberson pinned Camren Toole of Lebanon in 3:11 at 126, while Hollendonner won by fall in 4:25 over Tytus Morrisett of Eastern (Greentown) at 160.

"I wasn't surprised with the all three (pins), Lorek said. "Roberson and Mendez are confident on top. Hollendonner did his later in the match, but he found the confidence to go on top."

Also advancing were Sam Goin (106), Logan Frazier (113) and Riley Bettich (120).

Evan Bates of Chesterton was also dominant in the opening round. He pinned Haakon Van Beynen of Carmel in 48 seconds at 220.

Bates took control early and never relented.

"We just seemed more prepared than (Van Beynen)," Chesterton coach Chris Joll said. "He might have had a plan to slow the match down, but that didn't work against Evan."

Also for the Trojans, Aiden Torres also advanced via pin, winning in 3:11 over Willie Dennison of Anderson at 126.

"Aiden has a habit of smelling blood in the water (and reacting)," Joll said. "As the match progressed, he went from defense to offense and then put the opponent on his back.

Brock Ellis was the final Trojans wrestler to move on, defeating Alexander Dull of South Adams 7-1 at 145.

"We were just trying to take it one match at a time," Joll said. "(Brock) was a little more conservative. I don't think he saw the risk of trying to put the guy on his back."

Other Region wrestlers advancing were Nam Doan of Lake Central (113), Kankakee Valley's Cole Solomey (120), Wheeler's Giovanni Diaz (120), Merrillville's Jacob Maldonado (145) and Khris Walton (182), Hobart's Tyler Turley (160) and Portage's Damari Dancy (285).

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Sports Copy Editor

Jim is a copy editor for The Times who works out of Valparaiso.He received the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association’s Media Award in 1997. He can be reached at 219-548-4356 or jim.hunsley@nwi.com.

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