Wrestling: Merrillville dominates in sending all 14 to regional
EAST CHICAGO — Saturday was a homecoming for Merrillville wrestling coach David Maldonado. The Pirates switched this year from the Calumet to the East Chicago sectional and they sure didn’t let their coach down, sending all 14 wrestlers to next week’s Calumet Regional, including nine champions.
“Today was all good, I did enjoy coming back here today,” Maldonado said. “It’s been a while since I’ve been back here. This gym brings back a lot of memories, I wrestled here in high school. Not bad today, we had all 14 wrestlers advance.”
The Pirates easily outdistanced Duneland Conference rival Lake Central 306 to 235.5 to win the team championship.
Winning individual titles for the Pirates were Michael Garza (106), Michael Martin (126), Jacob Covaciu (132), Willie Armstrong (145), Bobby Stevenson — who kept his perfect record intact with a fall to win at 170 pounds — Eric Deluna (182) and Shawn Streck (285). The last two also notched pins to win their weight classes.
Senior Adam Garcia won 12-6 over Morton’s Ruben Rodriguez to win at 120 pounds.
“This feels good but my main goal is to go to state and win,” Garcia said. “This was a good test today. I saw some different styles and techniques here today.”
Issac Rentas had a comeback win over Munster’s Zach Slosser to win 5-4 at 138 pounds to avenge a loss to Slosser earlier this season.
“Coach Maldonado always says keep wrestling when you’re tired,” Rentas said. “I just kept wrestling today. This feels good; last year I was a sectional runner-up, I didn’t want to do that again this year.”
Lake Central had two champions on the day. Gelen Robinson improved to 38-0 with a pin at 220 and Cody Christenson had a 6-4 decision to win at 152 pounds.
Morton sophomore Rickie Rodriguez, last year’s 106-pound champ had a tough 2-1 decision over LC’s Branden Truver at 113 pounds.
“There were a couple of times when I tried to take a shot but I just couldn’t finish,” Rodriguez said.
Bishop Noll senior Damian Gomez held off Merrillville’s Mathew Hollins with an 8-5 decision to defend his 160-pound title and Gavit’s Derrick Medley pinned Alex Jara of Merrillville to win at 195 pounds.