MICHIGAN CITY — The figurative monkey is off the back of a pair of wrestlers after each earned an individual title at Saturday’s Duneland Athletic Conference meet.
LaPorte’s Tyson Nisley won the 138-pound championship with a 9-6 win over Chesterton’s Cade Johnson.
“It feels great, so much better than last year,” Nisley said. “It was so good to come back and get what I felt like I deserved.”
A year ago, Michigan City’s David Taylor edged Nisley 3-2 in the semifinal. It sent him into a spiral. He eventually finished sixth. Taylor took first.
“It just threw off my mental game,” Nisley said. “My mental focus now is so much better than last year. There’s not a lot getting into my head. I’m just able to go out there and do what I do.”
Brock Ellis took home the 152-pound blue ribbon. The Chesterton sophomore beat Portage’s Jacob Beehn 13-1 in the final.
Ellis lost to Crown Point’s Kasper McIntosh by technical fall in 2017.
“It was just a really tough opponent,” he said. “It feels good to win. Redemption.”
Offense is the key to Ellis’s improvement, he said. Last season, he went into matches confident in only one takedown technique. That number increased to five this year.
“I just wanted to score points. I know if I get to my offense, it’s really hard to stymie me and get to me, if I’m always moving forward,” Ellis said. “If I wrestle my match, there’s not many people that I can’t compete with.”
Washington, focused on future, repeats
Portage senior D.J. Washington pinned Chesterton’s Gavin Layman in 2:11 in the 160-pound final. It his the second consecutive conference crown.
“Every win (in the DAC) is a legit win because everybody’s a great opponent,” Washington said. “I just feel like I was a little bit better than everybody else today. That’s not always the case.”
Washington is committed to wrestle at Indiana University. He said he’s more worried about preparing for the rigors of the college season than he is earning a state championship.
“There’s no real pressure for winning a state title. It’s about getting better, for me,” he said. “It’s about cleaning up things that I know I need to work on so that when I get to that next level, I can complete my goals of being an NCAA champion and a world champion and an Olympic champion.”
Washington is ranked No. 1 in the state in his weight class.
Roberson wins ‘gruesome’ thriller over Hall
Crown Point sophomore Stephen Roberson won a 106-pound final over Merrillville’s Malik Hall that excited the crown and required three extra periods.
Hall escaped in the final 30-second period but Roberson recovered with a takedown to earn a 6-5 win.
“It was gruesome,” Roberson said. “Overtime was difficult, but I know my training, I know my cardio will always put me towards the top and get me through that match.”
Roberson said he’s wrestled Hall three times. All those matches were close, but the Bulldogs grappler always came out on top.
Mendez stays undefeated, wins at 126
Bulldogs freshman Jesse Mendez stays unbeaten with a win over Portage’s Brock Peele in the 126-pound final.
Peele kept things closer than many of Mendez’s opponents this season, but eventually fell 6-0.
“I was just trying to keep my offense going, using my feet and my hands, trying to get to my attacks,” Mendez said. “It took a little bit to get to him, but I ended up getting to it.”
Mendez improves to 30-0 with three more wins on the day.
He and Roberson were two of the five Crown Point individual champions, including Riley Bettich at 120, Jacob Burford at 145 and Ethan Potosky at 195.
“I think our team is wrestling great,” Mendez said. “We’ve been working really hard and I think it’s paying off.”