By Steven Kochersperger
The Mount Vernon wrestling team wanted to get off to a great start this week as they opened their season, and they did just that.
The Wildcats impressed head coach Tim Alcorn and assistants Hunter Steven and A.J. Hoehn on the first day of the Turkey Classic. But the second day, Alcorn felt his team could have wrestled better, dropping a narrow decision to the North High Huskies.
“It was definitely a team loss and I refuse to take it down to one match because all that means is that the other guys were not doing their jobs,” Alcorn said after the tournament. “We lost two or three matches in the upper weight classes that we should have won and in a couple of those matches, we got stuck (a pin). That was a tough one to swallow. There were three or four other matches we should have won. We just let too many of them get away from us against North and we paid the price.”
The price, in this case, would have been a co-championship with the Central Bears, the team that Mount Vernon did not face in the 10-team format. The Bears finished with an 8-0 record while the Wildcats and North tied for second at 7-1 each.
“We would like to have had the opportunity to face Central,” Alcorn said of the draw. “With ten teams and only eight duals, the number of matches agreed upon by the coaches, we really don’t want to push it to nine or ten matches this early in the year. Five matches a day for two days straight is just an awful lot to ask of these kids this early in the season.”
Alcorn explained that in the past, Mount Vernon did not face Central so early in the season because it was a sectional seed on the line. However, since the sectional realignment, Alcorn indicated that his team had to help out some other teams because there are six teams in the Turkey Classic who will see each other only in the Turkey Classic.
“We were kind of hand-cuffed on the schedule,” Alcorn said. “We would like to have matched up with them because it would have been a heck of a dual.”
Mount Vernon was led in the tournament by senior team captain Michael Rynkiewich, who finished 8-0 for the tournament.
“We expected him to go 8-0,” Alcorn said. “And we had several other kids who went close to undefeated. Nick DeLong, who was unable to wrestle a part of the second day, did not lose but did not wrestle all of the matches.”
Among other notables were Julian Suar, at 113, finished the tourney with only one loss. Adam Hoehn finished the day with only one loss.
“Adam’s loss was on me,” Alcorn explained. “I chose to default the match. He was injured during the match and probably would have stayed in there and finished but might have hurt himself even worse. He wrestled with a lot of guts and courage but I chose to default it.”
Payton Whoberry had only one loss at 145. And Noah Keller, who wrestled only one match, won in his only appearance.
The Wildcats opened their season on Monday with a resounding 63-12 team victory over Bosse High School and had a great showing later in the week in the Turkey Classic.
Mount Vernon won five weight categories by forfeit in Monday’s match up with Bosse and one category was declared a double forfeit. This put Mount Vernon up in the team score going into the individual matches. The varsity match opened Monday with Mount Vernon’s Payton Whoberry losing to Bosse’s Ivy on an injury default. At the time of the injury, Ivy and Whoberry were tied at 6-6 in the 152-pound matchup. Ivy’s win gave the Bulldogs one of their two wins on the mat Monday. The other Bosse win came in the 170-pound weight class. Bosse’s Merriweather pinned Wildcat freshman Zach Peerman at the 2:17 mark.
Mount Vernon went on to win all the other matches helping them cruise to their first victory of the season. Wildcat Michael Rynkiewich pinned his opponent in the 160-pound class in just 42 seconds. Other wins by pin for the Wildcats came when 182-pound Rainey pinned his Bosse opponent at 1:23, Freshman Kyle Lang in the 220-class won in 31 seconds, sophomore Austin Stallings won by pin in 1:00 in the 285-pound class, and junior Julio Suar won by pin in 1:32.
In the 195-class matchup, sophomore Luke Ripple won a nail biter that went the distance. In the end Ripple won 1-0 helping the Wildcat cause. The Wildcat win against Bosse help set them up nicely for the Turkey Classic which was held Friday and Saturday at Mount Vernon High School.
The Turkey classic was a huge success once again and the Mount Vernon wrestling team had a great showing. In the two days of wrestling Mount Vernon ended up 7-1.
So how does Alcorn feel about his team after nine matches?
“The first day we wrestled very well and that’s not what you usually hear,” Alcorn said. “Usually teams start off slow and wrestle better the second day. The second day we left a lot to be desired.”
But despite the less-than-impressive second day, Alcorn is proud of his team and is happy with where they are at this point in the season.
“”This probably sounds like a cliche but this is one of the hardest working teams I have ever been a part of,” Alcorn said. “Even my assistant coaches would tell you that we have pushed the kids harder in three weeks than we have pushed anybody. So if they were a little out of gas the second day, that could have been my fault.”
The Mount Vernon wrestling program has incredible numbers out this season and Alcorn believes it is simply a change in coaching philosophy that has taken the numbers from 15 two years ago to 17 last year and up to 24 this year. He would like to see that number grow to 30.
“We are creating more of a positive thing for these kids to be a part of,” Alcorn said. “We went to a summer tournament in Georgia and we are spending our fundraising money buying the kids some nice things. I think it is just our coaching approach. We are doing things to build kids up and not tear them down. Some coaches struggle with that and they don’t even realize that they are talking so much about what the wrestler isn’t doing and we try to focus on the things they are doing well.”
Alcorn went on to say that whether you are a senior shooting for a conference or sectional championship or a freshman who is just learning the sport, there is a place for them on the Mount Vernon team.
“There are some kids who need the sport of wrestling a whole lot worse than it needs them,” Alcorn said. “But they are just as important to us as a coaching staff. This provides the kids something positive to be a part of.
On Saturday, the Wildcats will host a rotational tournament featuring second-ranked Mater Dei, Heritage Hills, Pike Central, and Indianapolis Arlington.
“We will have sectional seeding on the line against Heritage Hills and we need to avenge some losses we had to Pike Central in the Turkey Classic,” Alcorn said. “And everyone is aware that Mater Dei is the best team in the area and you always want to have your best. And, it is another day for us to wrestle at home on our own mats and in our own gym. Hopefully, we can come out with the same intensity we did the first day of the Classic.”