Large Tigers, Arabians contingents qualify for wrestling regional

Jan. 27—ELWOOD — When the seedings were announced for Saturday's wrestling sectional at Elwood earlier in the week, few potential finals matchups were as anticipated as the possible battle between Alexandria's Ezra Fye and Elwood's Kayden Simpson in the 120-pound championship.

The seedings proved true, and the fourth meeting of the year between the two lived up to the expectations.

Fye outlasted Simpson with a 10-8 decision to earn the sectional championship and will lead a program record nine Tigers into next week's regional at Pendleton Heights.

"I'm extremely excited. We're breaking records here, and this is the first time we've sent this many to regional," Fye said. "This is my team, my family, and hopefully I can lead them to semistate also."

The Alexandria junior jumped out to a 5-0 lead before Simpson battled back, eventually taking a 6-5 lead early in the third period. Fye then scored a takedown and a three-point near fall to take command and hold on for the lead.

Fye has beaten Simpson three of four times they've met this season, including at the Madison County tournament, and they could well see each other again next week.

"I knew it was going to be (tough). I had to wrestle smart and wrestle my match," Fye said. "Coming into sectional, I worked harder and worked on my technique."

Tyler Huffman was the runner-up at 113 pounds for Alexandria, which also had three third-place finishers — Will Rowland (150), Leevi Koons (215) and Harrison Fife (285) — and fourth-place finishes by Garrett Blanton (106), Clayton Martin (126), Langdon Ashby (138) and Camden Shelton (175).

"It means a lot. We've talked a lot this year about our goal to get invited to the (Class) 1A team state for next year," Alex coach Scott Rowland said. "Hopefully, we wrestle well enough. We have more work to do. Hopefully, we wrestle well and get a few kids to semistate."

The regional hosts will be well represented next week with seven total Arabians moving on, including four — Jay Covington (138), Jack Todd (144), Chris Crank (190) and Eli Libler (215) — earning sectional championships.

Todd (26-0) emerged from sectional unbeaten for the second straight year as he also seeks a return to the state finals.

"That's the first step, so I can't be too happy with it," Todd said. "My goals are a little bigger than this, but it's always nice to win. It's good to remember that there are kids who would kill to be where I'm at and have the success I've had."

Covington won his finals match by fall at the 1:30 mark and improved to 32-3 while Crank (24-7) and Libler (27-6) won by decision. It was the first sectional championship for all three as they earned one of the coveted top seeds at regional.

Covington finally cashed in after coming up just short the last two years.

"I've been in the finals three times, so it really stuck with me to get one this year," Covington said. "It was all confidence leading up to today. I have confidence in everything I do, and that really helped today."

"It was great for Jay to win his first and for Chris to get his first as a senior," PH coach Dave Cloud said. "That was Eli's first. There's a kid that works so hard, short arms and short legs, but he works his butt off."

Frankton's Crew Farrell won a dramatic 2-1 decision to take home the 165-pound championship. The senior will seek his third regional championship next week and was noticeably emotional following the win.

"It was emotional. This is one of my final runs," he said. "I'm just blessed by the Lord and Savior."

The Eagles had three runners-up Saturday as Jonah Ellis and Garek Ellis dropped their finals matches to Crank and Libler, respectively, and 285-pounder Ty Everson fell in the final. Caine Oakley's fourth-place finish at 157 pounds makes it five Frankton wrestlers at regional.

"It was a good day. Obviously we don't want to come out with a four (seed) to set us up for next week," Frankton coach Courtney Duncan said. "We were hoping for more, but we got four into the finals."

Anderson had four regional qualifiers, including 132-pound runner-up Lorenzo Moreno, third-place finishers Jackson Richardson at 120 pounds and Jensen Shryock at 165 pounds, and Kason Davis, who claimed fourth at 150 pounds.

Simpson was Elwood's only regional qualifier while Cole Miller, with a third-place finish at 175 pounds, will be the sole Lapel representative next Saturday.

History was made by Kendall Moe of Hamilton Heights. When she took first place at 106 pounds, she became the first female champion in the history of the Elwood wrestling sectional.

Elsewhere, Tripp Haisley captured Madison-Grant's first sectional title since 2019 by winning the 126-pound championship at Oak Hill. He will be one of four Argylls to advance to the Peru regional next week as Grant Howard (138) and Boston Caudell (190) were runners-up and Nick Rich (165) placed fourth.

In the process, Caudell became the first Argyll wrestler to reach the 100-win career milestone.

Daleville senior Reazon Davenport also won his 100th career match and went on to take the 157-pound championship at Delta. He will head to the Jay County regional next week with eyes on a third career trip to semistate and will be joined by 285-pound runner-up Chris Walters.

Shenandoah also captured a sectional title as Tate Sanders defeated Taylor Conley of Eastern Hancock 8-0 to take the 157-pound crown at Centerville. He was the only Raider to advance to Richmond next week.

Regional action will get underway at 9 a.m. next Saturday at Richmond, Pendleton Heights and Peru and at 8:30 a.m. at Jay County.

Contact Rob Hunt at or 765-640-4886.