Hamilton Southeastern's undefeated Jack Chastain and the Royals look to wrap up their third county title in four years this Saturday. Photo by Ron Wise
Hamilton Southeastern's undefeated Jack Chastain and the Royals look to wrap up their third county title in four years this Saturday. Photo by Ron Wise
On paper, the numbers are striking.

Hamilton Southeastern carries four state-ranked wrestlers. Three of them are undefeated while the other has endured only one loss this season. Two of the four wrestlers are defending Hamilton County champions and former state-place winners.

The team is ranked fifth in the state and holds five top seeds for Saturday's Hamilton County Wrestling Tournament in Westfield.

While these are all fun facts for onlookers and prognosticators, for HSE head coach Kyle Poyer, only one detail holds the most weight this weekend once the first match starts at 9 a.m.

"Any time you're defending champion, you got to be the favorite," Poyer remarked. "There's no doubt that Carmel is a quality program, so we're just hoping to compete and wrestle well."

Oddly enough, Carmel doesn't possess a single No. 1 seed as they look to defend their country crown.

Graduating four of its five county champions from last year, junior Sam Hipple at 195 is the only one that remains. At 3-1 on the season, he is playing a little catch up after a long football season for the Class 6A state runner-up Greyhounds, but he hold the state's 11th ranking.

This would be a concerning situation for most, but for Carmel head coach Ed Pendoski, winning is a matter of mathematics.

Last year, county runner-up Westfield tied HSE with three county champions, but it was the Shamrocks four second-place wrestlers that tipped the scale. The Royals settled for third after winning the tournament in back-to-back years.

"Those little bitty tournaments, it's all about team points. So it's how does everybody do in every weight class? Does your best guy win? Does your lowest guy on your experience level get third?," Pendoski said. "Bonus points and wrestle backs is what little tournaments like that are for."

The focus for the Royals, who are 8-0 on the season, is to win regardless of placement. Points will come with collective effort, which begins from the top down.

"We would definitely like to come back and take it from Carmel this year," said HSE 132-pounder Jack Chastain, who is ranked second in the state. "It would be great for us to come back and win it as a team."

Chastain (12-0), freshman 113-pounder Klayton Anderson (8-0), Austin Holmes (11-1) at 120 and Keegan Stansberry (12-0) at 138 will be the barometer for HSE. All four are ranked this season with Anderson at No. 2 for 106 pounds, Holmes fifth at 113 and Stansberry 10th in the state.

"We want to beat Carmel really bad this year. We beat them in a dual the first time last year (37-23), and then they beat us in county," said Holmes, who is a defending county champion with Chastain. "We're looking forward to sticking it to them this year."

To do so, they will need to uphold their seeds where Anderson, Holmes, Chastain, 170-pound Spencer Irick (11-2), and 195-pound Kolby Ferris (10-1) currently sit.

But they will face challengers like Fishers which holds three top seeds with undefeated freshman Alexander Strueder (17-0) at 106, Mason Gaines (15-1) at 145 and Hayden Grow (9-0) at 160.

Guerin Catholic's Dawson McMahon (7-0) is the No. 1 wrestler at 138.

Noblesville's Derek Noon (17-1) is the favorite at 152 despite falling from the state rankings after getting upset for his first loss of the season against HSE's Corbin Gregg by fall.

Sheridan's Austin Hoover (8-0) is favored at 182 along with Jake Eldson (7-1) at 220.

Hamilton Heights has just one top-seed in undefeated Trezdon O'Neal (9-0) at 126 where he is ranked 15th in the state.

"Carmel didn't get a lot of seeding in either, but they don't care. Really, I don't either," Hamilton Heights head coach Gary Myers said. "We have 10 top-four seeds. We're predicted to have three champions. We'll see."

Huskies' David Bryant (11-1) is ranked fifth at 106 and will come in as the second seed.

Noblesville's Jack Wishart is 12-3 on the year and a second seed along with Stephan Kitko (16-2), who is ranked 16th at 145. One of Kitko's losses this year came against Gaines during a dual.

Kitko also lost against HSE as the Royals won 71-0 in a dual meet for the first shutout in program history.

"We're going to use it to fire us up. We'll be ready," Noon remarked on the loss. "There's top competition in our county, but we're tough as well."

Westfield's Evan Eldred (11-1) is ranked ninth in the state at 132 and starts from the bottom of the bracket with a potential title match with Chastain. Eldred lost to open the season against Brownsburg, but he has racked up 11 straight wins since that dual.

"He's determined and he's motivated. He took the loss, learned from the loss and is refocused," Westfield head coach Terry O'Neill said.

The Royals are zeroing in on gaining points from some of their second seeds, too, with Alex Jessop (9-3) at 182 and Joe Mazero (12-1) at 160.

Fishers' Andrew Nicholson (15-1) could pose a threat at 126.

"It's all about staying focused," Poyer said. "It's about match ups, being prepared, staying healthy and coming out and wrestling how you should."