HSE's Austin Holmes and the Royals collectively won five weight class titles to reclaim the Hamilton County Wrestling Tournament championship on Saturday. file photo by Ron Wise
HSE's Austin Holmes and the Royals collectively won five weight class titles to reclaim the Hamilton County Wrestling Tournament championship on Saturday. file photo by Ron Wise
WESTFIELD - Their focus was singular. Their approach was deliberate. On Saturday, the fifth-ranked Hamilton Southeastern wrestling team had one motto and one goal.

By the end of the 2014 Hamilton County Wrestling Tournament in Westfield, they achieved it and stood alone as team champions.

"We knew we needed to come in and get the job done," HSE's 120-pound county champion Austin Holmes said. "We wrestled smart in all positions, and we were really on our game. We broke it down on "OTG," which means out the gate. We wanted to go after it."

From the first round, the Royals' were overpowering. They pushed every single wrestler through to the semifinals and constructed a substantial lead early.

With eight wrestlers advancing to their respective weigh classes' title match, HSE captured five individual championships and collectively scored a decisive 250 team points to overcome defending champion Carmel and seize the crown - once again.

The team title marked the program's third in four years after back-to-back championships in 2011-12.

"Our guys had a really strenuous week, and a lot of weigh-ins leading up to this. They had (semester) finals and all the obligations of the season as well," HSE head coach Kyle Poyer remarked on his team's approach. "I was really proud that they were able to maintain their focus and continue to work their way through it."

As a group, the Royals recorded 19 pins, nine decisions, three major decisions and two tech falls.

The key, however, was apparent on the winner's podium where HSE didn't have a wrestler place lower than fifth and had three runner-ups.

Three fourth-place finishers, a third-place winner and two fifth-place medalists for HSE kept Carmel at bay with 182 points. Westfield was third at 175.5 points and Fishers finished fourth at 174.

Carmel, Fishers and Hamilton Heights each won two individual weight class titles.

"The first round is where we really built the lead," Poyer said. "I think we had 12 pins in the first round and all 14 got through, which is really significant."

Bonus points were crucial in the final count for HSE, which only surrendered two falls, 10 decisions and one major decision the entire day.

"That's just being stingy," Poyer remarked on his wrester's refusal to give up pins. "If you're staying in matches, then you're not giving up back points. It's a mindset these guys developed on their own."

The Royals' five champions didn't give up much of anything along their journeys.

Klayton Anderson (11-0), who is ranked second in the state at 106, posted consecutive falls at 21 seconds and 3:13 before wrapping up the 113-pound title with a 12-0 major decision.

Holmes (14-1) scored an 18-1 tech fall in the 120-pound semifinals before winning by decision 7-1 in the finals to repeat as county champion.

Ranked fifth in the state at 113 pounds, Holmes, a junior, placed third at 106 as a freshman and won the county title at 113 last year.

"Austin continues to be who he is," Poyer said. "He's that fun, explosive guy that's exciting to watch wrestle."

Coming back from an injury last year, Keegan Stansberry (15-0), who is ranked 10th at 138, catapulted to the finals behind a fall in 1:43 and a 5-0 decision. He secured the 138-pound championship with an 18-3 tech fall.

Spencer Irick (14-2) won by fall in 17 seconds before winning in the 170-pound semifinals with a 5-2 decision. He scored a 3:51 fall in the finals to finish his run.

Jimmy Ford (12-4) racked up consecutive decisions at 8-2 and 3-2 before winning the 220-pound title by fall in 1:50.

"I'm proud of our champions, especially the young guys who haven't won championships before," Poyer said.

Carmel's two county titles came from Morgan Pruitt at 126 and Sam Hipple at 195.

Delayed after an extended football season with the Class 6A state runner-up Greyhounds, Hipple improved to 5-1 on the year with a 4-2 decision in the semifinals and a 3-1 decision in the finals.

"I just came to wrestle and to wrestle hard," Hipple said. "I didn't look at who I was wrestling. I just came to compete."

Hamilton Heights had two champions in Isaac Ray (14-1) at 160 and David Bryant (14-1) at 106. Ranked fifth in the state, Bryant won by major decision 11-3 and by fall in the finals at 1:23.

"He's heads and tails above everyone else right now," Hamilton Heights head coach Gary Myers commented on Bryant. "If he continues to work, I think we could be there at Bankers Life in the top three. He's been wrestling very well."

Sheridan's Austin Hoover won the 182-pound title by decision 6-4 against HSE's Alex Jessop. Hoover is 11-0 after winning his first-career county championship.

"I wanted it really bad," Hoover said. "I worked really hard all week. Coach has been working us like dogs all week, and it paid off."

Fishers had two champions in senior Mason Gaines (18-1) at 145 and heavyweight Steven Chakiry (12-2), who earned his title in an overtime thriller.

Chakiry and Westfield's Austin Dollens needed 8:39, including nearly three overtime minutes, before the former scored the match-winning escape point.

Noblesville's Derek Noon (20-1) avenged his lone loss of the season in the 152-pound semifinals against HSE's Corbin Gregg with a 5-2 decision. Noon went on to win the crown with a fall in 5:01.

As a junior last year, he placed third at 152 and was a champion at 145 as a sophomore.

"It feels good," Noon said. "I really wanted that match."

Westfield junior Evan Eldred won the most-anticipated match of the day, upsetting HSE's Jack Chastain by decision 15-9 in the 132-pound title round.

Ninth-ranked Eldred turned in consecutive falls (1:09 and 1:12) before colliding with Chastain, who is ranked second in the state. Chastain also won both preliminary matches by fall in 1:10 and 1:11.

After scoring the match's first points with a takedown, the visibly fatigued Chastain (14-1) couldn't match the energy of Eldred (14-1), who racked up six takedowns and a near fall.

"You have to have a short memory. You can't dwell after he takes you down," Eldred said. "You have to stay in the match."

Eldred was runner-up at 132 last year and a county champion at 120 the season prior. Since losing the first match of the season, Eldred has won 14 consecutive.

"Jack is a phenomenal wrestler, and Evan is pretty good himself," Westfield head coach Terry O'Neill said. "It was a marquee match-up as they say, and it was fun."