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COLUMBIA CITY — The Columbia City wrestling team opened a new season Tuesday night.
The match was also the first for new head coach Blane Culp. In the first of only two home matches this season the young Eagle team faced off against a veteran Bellmont squad with the CCHS wrestling alumnae in attendance.
The Eagles managed only a forfeit win against the always tough Braves in the varsity match falling by a 73-6 score.
Coach Culp and the Eagles got a very nasty welcome to the new season in the 10th ranked Braves.
“It’s tough that we got put into this situation right off the bat,” Culp said. “We’re pretty inexperienced, and you can tell we have a lot of bad habits that we are going to have to break.”
The Braves took advantage of those bad habits, picking up pin falls in 10 of their 13 wins, a technical fall in another match and major decisions in the remaining two.
After a pin fall loss at 125 pounds, senior Leland Roberson avoided a pin, dropping a 9-0 major decision to Bellmont’s Will Mahlan.
Junior Joe McCullough started well against the Braves’ Dewey Melcher holding a 3-2 lead at the end of the first period of their 135-pound match. Melcher came back in the second and third periods, out scoring McCullough 17-4 to take a 19-7 major decision, giving the Braves a 14-0 lead.
The Braves picked up four straight pins to take a 38-0 lead. Sophomore Russell Hazelet held the Braves Ryley Hankenson to a 17-2 technical fall to break the string of pin falls.
Following two more Bellmont pin fall wins, Columbia City freshman Michael Wright picked up the only Columbia City points of the night when he received a forfeit win at 103 pounds.
The Braves closed out the match with two more pins to account for the final 73-6 score.
“With only three seniors, there is not a lot of experience,” Culp noted. “But with a very good sophomore and freshman class coming in, we are going to gain a lot of experience. We are getting good junior and senior leadership in the locker and practice room, and I hope they will be able to start capitalizing on that in the senior record board.”
In the JV contest, the Eagles picked up their only win in a contested match as freshman Landon Hodges scored a second period pin fall win over Bellmont’s Caleb Mendez. Hodges had built a 10-8 lead over Mendez when he put the Bellmont freshman on his back at the 3:23 mark of their 140 pound match-up.
Hodges’s win was the only one for the Eagle JV as they fell by a 30-6 count to the Braves’ reserves.
Columbia City will join Whitley County rival Whitko in traveling to Wawasee Saturday for the Wawasee Invitational.