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GOSHEN — For 10 of the past 11 years, the winner of the Goshen Invitational wrestling tournament has hailed from Whitley County, with Columbia City ripping off a string of nine straight titles and Whitko following them with a win in 2009 before the host Goshen Redskins broke the string last year.
Both Whitko and Columbia City traveled to Goshen on Saturday with the intention of reclaiming the title.
For both the Wildcats and the Eagles, injuries and absences, put both teams in tough positions to start the day. Both teams boasted a single weight class champion, with Columbia City finishing fifth as a team, and the Wildcats finishing in a tie for sixth.
Columbia City began the day with several varsity wrestlers unavailable, while the Wildcats fielded wrestlers in only nine weight classes due to injuries and wrestlers unable to make weight.
The Fairfield Falcons took the team competition by a single point over host Goshen, 240-239, with Fort Wayne North Side third at 145 points.
Columbia City junior Bryce Forrester claimed the title at 112 pounds for the Eagles only individual win. Forrester opened the day with a 33 second pinfall win over Whitko’s Cole Findley, who placed sixth in the weight class.
Forrester scored an 8-2 win over Fairfield’s Trevor Yoder in the semifinals, and took the title with a 16-7 major decision over Jake Littlefield from Bronson in the finals.
For the Wildcats, their lone championship came at 125 pounds, where Jordan Gilbert pinned his way to the title.
Gilbert scored a pin over Lakeland’s Jordan Welch at the 1:35 mark of their first round match, and followed that with a 1:37 fall over Eastern’s Connor Young in the semifinals.
The Whitko grappler completed a sweep of the class with a pin at the 5:17 mark of the finals match with Fairfield’s Brett Martz.
The Wildcats picked up three second-place finishes. Cody Bays was runner up at 140 pounds. Bays scored wins over Brandon Losinski of Bronson and Justin Trigg of Columbia City before falling in overtime by a 5-3 score to Ryan Ntende of Goshen in the finals.
Trigg went on to claim third-place for the Eagles with a pinfall win over Tyler Fording of Easter.
The Wildcats also took second at 152 pounds where Josh Busenbark fell to Dustin Hinen of Fairfield in the finals. Busenbark advanced to the finals with a first round forfeit and a 4-3 semifinal win over Columbia City’s Payton Walter, who secured a fourth-place finish in the weight class.
Whitko also got a second-place finish from Ben Hinora at 285 pounds. Hinora advanced with single point wins, 2-1 over Matt Burkey of Lakeland, and 3-2 over Hayden Schmucker of Goshen.
In the finals Hinora met Ta’Quan Walker of Fort Wayne North. Walker scored a pinfall win over Hinora in 50 seconds, which was Walker’s longest match of the day, having swept into the finals with pins in 18 and 30 seconds.
Columbia City’s Eric Shepherd took third at 145 pounds. Shepherd downed Whitko’s Ian Pherigo 4-1 in the contest for third. At 171 pounds Whitko’s Wes Gensch took third, while Columbia City’s Zach Perry was sixth.
Columbia City got fourth-place finishes from freshman Michael Wright at 103 pounds and Alan Trabert in the 125 pound division.
The Eagles’ Tyler Olsen placed fifth at 135 pounds, while Whitko’s Tyler Miller and Columbia City’s Trey Hinen, Brice Bauer and Addison Krider all collected sixth-place finishes.
Columbia City and Whitko both return to action this week with Whitko hosting Wabash and Northfield Tuesday and Columbia City hosting Garrett Wednesday.