Christmas comes a week early for clutch, young Braves

Carter Thomas, Bellmont WrestlingBellmont Bench
Staff Writer

The Bellmont Braves reversed the demons of 1979 Tuesday night, avenging the sectional loss that year with the 40th anniversary team on hand and beating Adams Central, who won the 1979 IHSAA Sectional, 39-34 in a thrilling dual in front of a large crowd at Bellmont.
The highly-anticipated dual between the two county teams was surprisingly dominated by Bellmont, but overshadowed partially by a severe injury to Bellmont 182 Caden Friedt, who seemed to have suffered a season-ending knee injury in the final bout of the night with the dual meet victory already in hand.
Defaulting due to injury, Friedt’s loss made the final score 39-34 in a match that seemed destined to finish 45-28.
The dual got off to an innocuous start at 220, with Adams Central heavy favorites and quick 10 or 15 second winners at the two heaviest weights with Jashawan Berlanga and Devin Lotter. Bellmont responded with a quick fall from Ike Ruble at 106 against winless Aiden Cummings and a forfeit to receive at 113 to turn the dual into a 10-bout shootout.
Dobie Litchfield gave Bellmont an 18-12 lead after five bouts with a second-period fall against Caleb Peace. That gave Bellmont’s Carter Thomas a matchup against undefeated freshman, Alex Currie, at 126.
What transpired after both freshmen walked onto the mat was nothing short of wild. Thomas, with a record just over .500, acted like he had never heard of Currie, who was undefeated, and took it to him as hard and aggressively as he could. Scoring an early takedown, Thomas rode him out for a 2-0 lead after the first two minutes. Thomas chose neutral to start the second and got in deep on a single leg but couldn’t finish it near the end of the circle.
Thomas continued to work the front headlock series through the second period and halfway through got a penalty point after Currie scissored the head for a penalty point while Thomas was in on an Iranian. With just one second remaining in the period, Thomas scored another two-point takedown for a 5-0 lead. After Currie chose down in the final period, Thomas went in for the kill, smashing through towards Currie’s legs, Thomas finished his shot and took the Jet freshman to his back thirty seconds into the period.
An electric Bellmont crowd ate up the 10-4 win over the previously undefeated Currie and they got more of what they want when Patrick Gunsett fought off an opening takedown to come back and score a fall against Jake Jackson, just as he did in last year’s dual.
Leading 29-12 at the intermission, the young Braves and the crowd were treated to a history lesson about the 1979 Bellmont wrestling team, who finished State Runner-Up that year. Over a dozen members of the team were in attendance, including Hall of famers BJ Faurote, coach AJ Kalver, and Chris Mahlan. Several members of the team showed up with dusted-off letter jackets even. At the end of the seven-minute presentation, Kalver thanked his wrestlers and then applauded Gary Giessler for starting wrestling in Decatur.
Adams Central came back charging hard after the break, as Logan Mosser got some revenge on Kyle Lawson in a 7-5 decision win, despite Lawson scoring the opening takedown and getting two nearfall with a nice standing tilt. Lawson seemed to sit back on his 4-0 lead was repeatedly called for stalling by official Greg Moe at the end of the bout. With both wrestlers on their feet at 5-5, Mosser finished Lawson off with a clean ankle pick right at the whistle for the winning points with 26 seconds remaining in the bout.
Whatever momentum Adams Central had after Mosser’s win dissipated when Logan Macklin simply could not turn freshman sub, Isaac Friedt for the expected fall. Macklin jumped out to an 8-0 lead after the first period, but Friedt bridged out and stayed off his back multiple times. By the end of the bout, the Bellmont crowd was cheering a 14-0 loss by Friedt, knowing that the freshman had saved the team two valuable points.
Adams Central also won the next match with freshman Blake Heyerly, taking out Mason Burkholder, who bumped up to 152. Heyerly gave the Bellmont no room for offense and came away with a 5-1 win.
The Jets were desperate for points at that junction of the match. Jon Ruble reported to the table and was followed by AC’s Ryan Byerly and seventeen seconds later Bellmont led 35-22.
With Caden Friedt in the back of Bellmont fans’ minds a sure win, the math was right for the home team, but Carter Siefring removed all doubt with a thrilling fall win at 170 against Paul Faurote. Faurote had Siefring cradled for a long time in the second but could never get Siefring’s near shoulder off his own body. Riding too high in the third, Faurote held on for dear life until Siefring went head-hunting and stacked Faurote straight up for a fall call from Moe to set the 700+ people, at least the Bellmont fans, into a frenzy.
“It was a quick pin call,” said Gunsett with obviously mixed emotions after the match, “but I think in the position he had him, they weren’t getting out. I can’t say enough about Carter and how he’s wrestled in these two home meets, being thrown in both times and getting the fall. He’s going to have to continue to step up now if we lose Caden long-term.”
After Parker Bates tossed Lucas Juengel to his back ten seconds into the second period, the mood turned sour because of the injury to Friedt, who was riding Jacob Manley and looking to turn him to give Bellmont a 45-28 thumping. The euphoria of the unexpected win for the raucous crowd evaporated with one shrill scream of pain in a moment that was sadly all too familiar to the Friedt family as older brother Carter ended his senior season with a mid-match knee injury in December.
The match ended in eerie silence with Moe grabbing Manley’s right wrist and gingerly raising it above his shoulders for the injury default win.
While the injury to Friedt will surely leave a sour taste in Bellmont mouths, it was a critical and season-defining win for Paul Gunsett’s team.
“A week ago I looked at our schedule and said with Leo, AC, and Carroll, we might go 0-3 at home. Instead, we finish tonight at 2-0 so far against two teams with one combined loss. Other than the loss of Caden, which makes me absolutely sick to my stomach, we wrestled about as good as we could tonight. Our freshmen, Carter Thomas and Isaac Friedt especially, really stepped up for us tonight.”
The loss for Adams Central, who turn around and face Columbia City Wednesday, puts the Jets at 16-1. Bellmont inched closer to .500 at 8-9. The Braves will not see action again until the Mishawaka tournament on the 28th and 29th.

Bellmont 39 Adams Central 34
220: JaShawn Berlanga (AC) p. Dalton Robinson :10
285: Devin Lotter (AC) p. Branson Bills :12
106: ike Ruble (B) p. Aiden Cummings 1:53
113: Paco Hutker (B) won by Forfeit
120: Dobie Litchfield (B) p. Caleb Peace 2:47
126: Carter Thomas (B) m.d. Alex Currie 10-4
132: Patrick Gunsett (B) p. Jake Jackson 1:40
138: Logan Mosser (AC) d. Kyle Lawson 7-5
145: Logan Macklin (AC) m.d. Isaac Friedt 14-0
152: Blake Heyerly (AC) d. Mason Burkholder 5-1
160: Jon Ruble (B) p. Ryan Byerly :17
170: Carter Siefring (B) p. Paul Faurote 5:10
182: Parker Bates (AC) p. Lucas Juengel 2:11
195: Jacob Manley (AC) inj. def. Caden Friedt