On Saturday, Feb. 7, the varsity wrestling team took 12 members to the Regional tournament at Calumet High School. As a team, the Indians took fifth place with 72 points, but also had individual champions and place winners.
The team had five team members qualify for the Semi-State tournament, and that group included three Regional Champions and two place winners. Kodie Christenson (12), Branden Truver (12) and Jacob Kleimola (11) each received first place. Tristan Pappas (11) and Jacob Stewart (12) also qualified, receiving fourth place. Only the top four from each weight class moved on to Semi-State.
“I think for me, [the tournament] went the way I thought because everyone that I [competed against] on Saturday, I had beat previously. I think it went as planned. The goal [for Semi-State] is just to get through the first two rounds and make it down to State, and after that, just to take it match by match,” Christenson said.
Kleimola and Christenson were both expected to dominate and place first, and that is what they did. Christenson beat his Calumet and Hobart opponents before winning the championship at the 152-pound weight class with a 3-2 decision against Portage’s Davin Gonzalez. Kleimola cruised past his first two opponents and then obtained the championship at the 182-pound weight class with a 5-2 decision against Portage’s Alex Guerrero. This was a familiar feeling for Kleimola, the only one of the three champions who also won Regionals the previous year.
“Last year, I kind of felt like I was more of an underdog, and I had to prove myself compared to this year, where I went into Sectionals with a [number] one seed. I kind of had the expectation to win, so that’s been a big difference from this season to last,” Kleimola said.
However, for Branden Truver (12), the Regional tournament brought on a series of firsts. Although he was not favored to win the championship, he made an impressive run to the finals match. Truver beat opponent Gaige Torres of Portage for the first time with an 8-5 decision, leading him to the finals. This was not the first surprise of the day. In the championship match, Truver was also victorious over long-time rival Jason Crary of Munster with a 4-2 decision to secure first place.
The five qualifying wrestlers will compete in the Semi-State tournament at Merrillville on Saturday, Feb. 14.