Jackson climbs into chase for Tiger title

Saturday, December 21, 2002

After finishing second each of the last two years, the Jackson Indians are in contention to capture their first Tiger Classic since 1992.

Through round-robin play Friday at the event at Central Junior High in Cape Girardeau, Jackson held a slim lead over two-time defending champion Ste. Genevieve.

Jackson sophomore Cody Rouse, the No. 1 seed in the 140-pound weight class, picked up three big pins for the Indians, including a pin against No. 8 Ben Romney of Troy-Buchanan.

"My first match I underestimated my opponent," Rouse said. "Other than that, tonight really was good."

Rouse is looking to improve on last year's second-place finish at 140 pounds.

"I'm hoping to come out a little stronger tonight," Rouse said. "Overall we're pretty confident we can win it this year."

Also coming up big for Jackson was Kramer Rampley, the top seed at 145 pounds. Rampley picked up pins in his first two matches and won a tough decision in his final match Friday.

Jackson coach Steve Wachter said his team did a good job of maximizing their matches with numerous pins, while avoiding being pinned themselves.

"You always hope for a pin," he said.

Jackson also got strong performances from Ben McMillan at 103 pounds (2-0), Ben Wachter at 135 (2-1), Brock Howard at 125, Dustin Fluegge at 215 and Charlie Deorge at heavyweight.

Fluegge picked up an upset over the No. 2 seed in round one, then pinned Central's Drew Lincoln in the second round.

"This is the best Dustin's wrestled all year," Wachter said.

Jackson will try to continue a strong run of individual champions today as well when the Indians have 11 individual champions over the last three Classics. Howard is in line to win his third straight individual championship, all at different weight classes.

While Jackson racked up 108.5 points through three rounds, Central finished round-robin action further back among the 16 teams. The Tigers came out strong, posting 25 points in the first round. But after picking up frustrating losses in round two, Central finished the night in 11th with 50 points.

Trever Duncan put in Central's strongest performance of the night by picking up three pins for the Tigers. Duncan looks poised to better his second-place finish from a year ago.

"I feel pretty confident, but this is just the first day," Duncan said.

Besides Duncan, several other Tigers put in strong performances on Day One.

After a tough second-round loss to No. 4 Joe Cantalano of Lindbergh, No. 5 Brandon Hinkle bounced back to pick up a win in round three to finish 2-1 at 125 pounds. Jonathan Poston and Cory Huskey each came back after second-round losses to post wins in round three as well.

Wachter and his Indians will be in for a tough fight today with Ste. Genevieve. The Dragons have won the Classic five times in the past eight years and go into today's action trailing the Indians by only 3.5 points.

Ste. Genevieve coach Chris Werner said making it a three-peat will be a difficult task.

"We're satisfied with the way tonight has gone," he said. "But there's a lot of wrestling left to do."

After Jackson and Ste. Genevieve, the field drops off in scoring. Fort Zumwalt West finished Friday in third with 89 points. Fort Zumwalt North was right behind with 88.5 and Northwest rounded out the top five with 85 points.

Fourth-round action at the Classic will begin at 9 a.m. at Central Junior High.

jjoffray@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 171

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