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Prairie Heights wins wrestling sectional

Prairie Heights ran its wrestling sectional championship streak to four Saturday afternoon at Westview.

Led by individual champions Isiah Levitz, Jed Levitz and Coye Blodgett, the Panthers held off a strong challenge from Central Noble to claim the crown. Heights totaled 235.5 points in the meet to 230 for the Cougars.

The sectional title is the 23rd overall for the Panther program.

Fresh off his run to a NECC championship a week earlier, Isiah Levitz clinched the 152-pound division title in the sectional with a 6-1 triumph over Westview’s Marcus Yoder. The Panther sophomore needed just 59 seconds to dispatch of first-round foe Braiden Bell of Central Noble. Levitz forged a 15-0 technical fall win over Kole Lounsbury of Lakeland in the semifinals.

For Heights seniors Jed Levitz and Blodgett, Saturday offered a chance at redemption after both came up short in their weight classes in the NECC meet. Pinning Fremont’s R.J. Dillbone in just 26 seconds in the opening round kick-started Levitz’s title trek. The Panther then stuck Keegan Hammond of Lakeland at 1:20 in the semifinals and Tadd Owen of central Noble at 5:25 in the finals to secure his third consecutive sectional crown.

Blodgett, a disappointing fourth-place finisher in the conference meet, opened his day in the 182-pound bracket with a pin of Drew Brosey of Fremont in 1:15. Blodgett then upended top-seed and league champion Alex Cary of Lakeland, 6-2 in the semifinals and beat Central Noble’s Connor Mooney, 6-3 to earn the title.

Five other Panthers finished second in their flights. That quintet included sophomore Evan Philpott (113 pounds), senior Blake Hoyer (126), junior Ryan Rasler (138), senior Troy Deetz (220) and junior Jon Messer (285).

Taking third place in their weight classes for Prairie Heights were freshman Rickie Bailer (120), junior Zeke Rowdon (132) and senior Codey Shafer (195), while junior Bennett Johnson (160) finished fourth. Rowdon dropped his initial bout of the tourney, then reeled off three straight wins in the consolation bracket, culminating with a 10-0 major decision over Kyler Brown of West Noble in the third-place match.

Each one of the 12 Panthers who placed in the top-four of their divisions earned a spot in this Saturday’s regional meet at Goshen. Prairie Heights is the defending regional team champion.

Lakeland will send nine grapplers to the Maple City this Saturday. Heading up the list of Laker regional qualifiers is senior Brian Bergman, who won the 285-pound division title with a pin of Prairie Heights’ Messer at 2:53 in the finals. Bergman also stuck first-round foe Max Pearson of Angola at 1:41 and semifinal opponent Tony Smith of East Noble at 5:21.

Junior Brandon Bergman punched his regional ticket by finishing second in the 195-pound flight. Advancing with third-place results for Lakeland were junior Jadon Miller (138) and senior Hayden Gephart (160). Making the regional with fourth-place finishes were senior Jarrod Curtis (106), sophomore Kole Lounsbury (152), junior Keegan Hammond (170), senior Alex Cary (182) and freshman Miguel Delapaz (220).

Senior Marcus Yoder was the only Westview wrestler to garner a regional bid with his runner-up finish at 152 pounds.

The Goshen regional tournament is slated to begin this Saturday at 9:30 a.m. The top four finishers in each of the 14 weight classes will earn trips to the IHSAA semi-state meet set for February 10 at the Allen County Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne.