Back when Dax Jones attended Chesterton, Sawyer Hallas considered him his
That changed when Jones transferred to Crown Point in 2012.
"There's a rivalry with some kids in our school," Hallas said.
The former teammates met as opponents for the second time this season in
Saturday's Duneland Athletic Conference tournament, where Sawyer prevailed
again, blanking Jones 2-0 to win the 160-pound title.
"All I wanted to do was win," said Hallas, who placed sixth in the meet a
Hallas won without benefit of an offensive point, earning one in the first
period for a Jones penalty (illegal head scissors) and one in the third when
Jones let him escape.
"He's always been more of a technical wrestler," Hallas said. "I train for
the end. He gets really tired really fast. He wears down and starts to make
Chesterton coach Chris Joll knew what the victory meant to Hallas and his
teammates, but stepped delicately on the subject.
"Beating a quality Crown Point guy is always a big deal for our program,"
Joll said. "Sawyer's been trying to do more things, more individualized
training in practice, and part of that paid off. He is an incredible athlete
with great body awareness. He always knows where he is on the mat, which
side is down and which is top when he's in a scramble. The only thing he
lacks is the experience."
Hallas and fellow Trojan champions Jack Tolin (106) and Alex Katsafaros
(170) helped Chesterton to a fourth-place finish with 168 points, 1.5 in
front of Lake Central and three behind Portage. Merrillville topped C.P. for
team honors, 217-204.
"I told them I thought we should be fourth and we were," Joll said. "We had
a '52 who didn't make weight who I think could've beaten a forfeit and a
concussion, but it's hard to set a goal, achieve it, and then realize
there's another goal ahead of us. We had a pretty good day."
Tolin, a freshman, pinned Portage's Tyler Joseph at 3:04 of the finals,
rolling him to his back after Joseph tried to hit a low single. He was the
sole ninth grader to capture a title.
"Coming into the season, you have to know January and February are important
months," said Tolin, a 12-11 winner over Joseph in a prior meeting. "It's
the time that matters. You really have to push yourself to your limits in
practice. I just try to stay in good position on my feet. It stops a guy
from doing what we want to do. Opportunities are there every match. The
difference is whether you can see them or not or take them or not."
Joll has been impressed with the maturity Tolin has shown.
"Sometimes, we forget they're 14 years old, no matter how they look or carry
themselves," Joll said. "Jack's a good boy. He's wrestling tough. He's had
difficulty winning matches cleanly, so it's great to see him get rewarded.
That's not luck. That's years and years of wrestling, him being prepared.
It's been a long season for him, but he's adjusting."
Katsafaros needed a takedown in the last 10 seconds to get past
Merrillville's Deven Lee 5-3.
"He's a solid wrestler," Katsafaros said of Lee. "I knew it was probably
going to come down to me and him."
The Trojans senior tipped the scales at 164.5 pounds, still getting back up
to weight after a nasty case of the flu a few weeks ago.
"I lost a lot of weight and I just can't put it back on," he said. "I lose
four pounds practicing, so it's hard to keep it up there. My conditioning's
where it needs to be. It's just a case now of having a week off before
sectionals and putting on some weight."
The tight finish wasn't uncommon for Katsafaros.
"He's had three matches where he's come from behind and beat a kid who was a
better athlete," Joll said. "I don't know how he does it. He doesn't ask
questions. He knows what he needs to do. This is a group of seniors that I'm
close to and he's one of them. I hold them in high regard. He and Jaycee
(Jensen) are both really light. I asked Alex if he wanted to go '60 and he
said he'll be OK wrestling '70."
Chesterton's other finalist, Mike Double, lost by technical fall at 5:44 of
the 132 final to Crown Point's unbeaten Zach Donaldson. Double defeated
Portage's Juan Duque to reach the championship.
"Mike's an incredible athlete. He sets his own limits as far as what he
wants to achieve," Joll said. "He's been wrestling since he was a freshman
and doesn't know how good he could be. It's in his mind."
Also for Chesterton, Jaycee Jensen took third at 182, while Dan Cutter (195)
and Connor Smith (220) earned fourths and Jackson Heard (285) a fifth.
"Jackson's a first-year ex-swimmer wrestler. We told him he was why we got
fourth," Joll said. "He's starting to get it a little bit. Jaycee came back
and got a pin. DaQwon Stewart had a nice win. Luke Zelenika pinned a kid who
had beaten him. Those were all points that helped us."