Hammond’s Gantt Castles received the Most Outstanding Wrestler award at the season-ending SCISA individual state tournament.
Castles, a sophomore, has never experienced defeat at state and continued his unprecedented run of success by claiming the 126-pound championship this year. It was the fourth gold medal performance for the Skyhawks star, whose previous titles came at 103 (in 2010 and 2011) and 113 (2012).
Hammond and Cardinal Newman shared the glory at the season finale, producing four individual champions apiece.
Castles was joined by brother Ray Castles, who picked up his second straight championship at 106 pounds, Lang Phillips and Calhoun McDougal atop the awards stand. Phillips and McDougal were first-time champions. Phillips prevailed at 145 after a runner-up showing at 126 last season. McDougal place for the third time, but finally struck gold at 195. He claimed silver at 189 in 2011 and bronze at the same weight last year.
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Matthew Kay, Stephen Mitchell, Noah Ware and Shand Owens were the other Hammond medal winners. Kay, a senior, closed an outstanding career with a second-place finish at 138 giving him an impressive resume that feature two championships and three runner-up efforts. Mitchell had a second-place finish for the third year in a row, this time at 160. Ware (120) and Owens (152) were consolation champs.
Cardinal Newman’s gold medallists included first-time champs Mitchell Pennington, who won at 113 and finished with a 29-7 record, Evan Mikula (29-8 at 120), Nick Maracich (25-12, at 132) and Desean McMillian (31-8 at 285).
Otherwise, Matthew Hayes (35-5 at 103), Bernie Herbkersman (24-12 at 126) and Matt Wilson (29-10 at 152) were silver medal winners, while Nathan Hayes (25-12 at 138), Garrett McNerney (8-7 at 170), Patrick Nieri (15-14 at 182) and Paul Dodds (21-18 at 195) were third-place men.
It was a bit disappointing for seniors Nathan Hayes and Wilson, who were both denied in their bids for a third individual titles. Herbkersman, a sophomore, will try to get over the hump next season after three straight losses in the championship finals.
Ben Lippen had a good showing. James Patterson (33-1 at 170) and Cullen Carlin (22-4 at 220) were the Falcons’ gold medal winners, while Jon Howell (24-13 at 132) and Graham Temples (24-13 at 145) were second-place finishers.