By Jake Thompson
MOORESVILLE — The Mid-State Conference spiced up their conference wrestling championship this season, moving it to a primetime setting on Friday night instead of the usual Saturday affair.
Franklin dominated the night’s action, sending 10 grapplers to the finals and the Grizzly Cubs (284) came away with the Mid-State title. Plainfield (156) finished fourth behind Martinsville (178.50) and Mooresville (227.50).
Plainfield coach Paul Nicodemus liked the change-up to Friday night and was proud of his team’s efforts.
“I don’t know if it was just being different or not, but the guys got to school today and they were pumped up to come here,” he said. “The fan turnout was pretty good and I thought it went well. Our effort was outstanding tonight. I just love this team and a bunch of kids that work and play hard. The way they cheer for each other, I love them to death.”
Plainfield sent three wrestlers — Isaac Gomez (106), Corin McKee (132) and Tristan Southwood (195) — to the finals.
Plainfield freshman and No. 12-ranked Gomez took on No. 5-rated D.J. Smith of Franklin, giving up some experience to the junior, and it showed. Smith, a state qualifier last season, led 6-2 after the first period and took a 9-2 advantage into the third. Gomez eventually fell 11-2, but finished as conference runner-up in his first attempt.
“I went in there intimidated and not thinking what he was going to do and he got me a few times,” Gomez said. “I tried to come back but it didn’t work out as well as I thought it would.”
McKee wrestled Franklin’s Skyler Lykins in the finals. Lykins, ranked 16th in the state, took McKee down quickly before working him to his back and pinning him with 30 seconds left in the first period.
“Corin had a great semifinals match,” Nicodemus said. “He went out there in the finals with the attitude of having nothing to lose and that kid is tough.”
Southwood took on Martinsville’s Ben Schoolcraft in the finals and fought through a tough match. Behind 2-0 after the first, Southwood scored a reversal to tie the match midway through the second period. Knotted up at 2-2, Schoolcraft chose the down position and scored a reversal. That would be all he needed as a last gasp effort fell short for Southwood as he lost, 4-2.
“His match was so close and if he could have held onto that cradle there at the end just a little bit longer,” Nicodemus said. “For him to beat the No. 1 seed and then have a match like that where he was seconds away from being a conference champion, I’m anxious to see how he’ll do in sectional.”
Third-place finishers for the Quakers included Tyler Summers (120) and Dayton Clements (152).
Plainfield’s Ben Macri (126), Triston Pantone (145), Devin Spaulding (182) and Justin Massie (285) all placed fourth.
Peyton Jones (138), Zach Richardson (160) and Cameron Lusk (225) took fifth while Tanner Princell (170) placed sixth.