Column: Line Drives — Weekend exciting for local athletics

[This is my column in the Jan. 22 issue of The Commercial Review.]

It’s going to be an exciting weekend in Jay County.

It’ll be a busy one as well.

The Patriots host the inaugural Allen County Athletic Conference swim meet, which begins with diving at 6 p.m. Friday.

On Saturday, the swimming portion of the meet will begin at 9 a.m., and just a short walk away in the main gym the Patriot wrestling team hosts its ACAC tournament at the same time.

As it was with the conference hoops tournaments, the excitement level is high for the swim and wrestling teams to compete for conference titles.

“Conference should be a good swim meet,” said JCHS girls swim coach Matt Slavik. “Every team that’s coming in has some talent. It’s going to give us a run for our money.
The Patriot girls are favorites to win as a team, as Slavik and his girls have defeated the three other squads — Adams Central, South Adams and Bluffton — in dual meets this season.

For Jay County boys swim coach Barry Weaver, he’s looking forward to the meet because of where it falls in terms of his team’s schedule.

“We’re four weeks away from sectional,” said Weaver, whose team defeated South Adams and lost to Bluffton earlier in the season. The Patriots host Adams Central Feb. 3. “It’s a perfect time for us to gauge where we’re at with the training.”

Weaver enjoys that the ACAC meet gives his team something else to look forward to other than just sectional and a potential appearance at the state finals.

“Having another banana in front of you trying to chase after that goal is always good,” he said.

The Patriot wrestling team has a couple favorites among its ranks. Junior Andy Kohler is the No. 1 seed in the 182-pound weight division, and his classmate Dallas Dudelston is the top seed at 132. It is the first time Dudleston (22-7) has been a No. 1 seed.

Kohler (27-2), who has won both the East Central Indiana Classic on Dec. 27 and the Garrett Invitational on Saturday, has a potential matchup with two-time state qualifier Kaine Luginbill (28-2) from Adams Central.

South Adams has two top seeds of its own, with Sawyer Miller (28-0) at 120 and Mason Morningstar (20-3) at 285.

First year Jay County coach Eric Myers said he and his squad are hoping to get even on some defeats from earlier in the season.

“It should be pretty interesting,” said Myers, who replaced James Myers as coach. “We took some lumps earlier in the season that affected some of our seeding, so there are some losses that we hope to avenge right away.”

This weekend’s action in the pool and on the mat can also be a precursor to the postseason for the swim and wrestling teams.

Jay County, Adams Central, Bluffton and South Adams all compete in the same swimming sectional, and those four along with Southern Wells are in the same sectional for wrestling.

Performing well at the sectional tournament has been the focus for Myers and his squad all season, but he said the Patriots aren’t taking the conference meet lightly.

“We want to wrestle really well on Saturday in this ACAC tournament,” he said, adding that it’s nice to have four conference foes in the sectional. “It sets us up for seeds in (sectional) so we really have to focus on wrestling well in those matches.”

This weekend won’t just be about the wrestling and swim teams. They get to share the spotlight with the hoops teams too.

The JCHS boys team squares off with South Adams on Friday before returning home for a doubleheader with the girls team against Southern Wells on Saturday.

Saturday’s hoops festivities will feature the junior varsity boys and girls games at 5 p.m. in the JCHS auxiliary gym. An hour later, the girls varsity game will tip off in the main gym with the boys tilt to follow.

With conference wrestling and swim meets in the morning and four basketball games in the evening, Jay County will be stirring with action throughout the school.

I know I’ll be popping in and out of the wrestling and swim meets throughout the day, and I’ll be at both basketball games in the evening as well.

I don’t want to miss out on any of the action. It’s those busy days packed with sports that I find most enjoyable.

So as five of the six Patriot squads compete at home this weekend, and the addition of getting to see four of South Adams’ winter sports teams, it’s going to be a great two days of local sports.

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