Southsider Voice correspondent
No. 2 Perry Meridian pushed No. 1 Evansville Mater Dei to the final two matches in the third annual state team championships before losing 31-27 Saturday at Ball State.
Promoted by the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association, the three class championships are similar to the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s team championship format from 1996 through 2012. Perry Meridian won IHSAA team championships in 2011 and ’12 at Center Grove and captured the first team title under the new format during the individual state finals in 2013.
Perry Meridian won 6-of-14 matches against the Wildcats, who iced the title by capturing the next-to-last match.
Perry’s champions were Sunny Nier, 106 pounds; No. 1-ranked Cornelius Elliot II, 120; No. 1 Brandon James, 138; Brett Johnson, 152; Tristen Tonte, 195; and Chris Ridle, 285. Tonte and James are unbeaten through 22 matches this season.
Elliot defeated Mater Dei’s Will Egli in a 3-2 nail-biter, and James dominated Joe Lee 8-2 in the championship bout. Tonte, who earlier won two matches in the 182-pound class, garnered the 195-pound title by pinning Chase Anslinger at 3:11.
Perry Meridian’s Ngun Uk (126 pounds), Noah Warren (145) and Garrett Milner (160) were unbeaten until facing Mater Dei’s wrestlers in the finale.
Perry Meridian, under veteran coach Jim Tonte, advanced to the championship round by edging No. 5 Penn 33-32 in semifinal action, which was decided by the sixth criteria tie-breaker: technical falls. Each team won seven matches; each team had three falls. The deciding technical fall was won 28-12 by James.
The Falcons advanced through the meet’s 3A pool by defeating No. 13-ranked and defending champion Cathedral 47-21 and No. 9 Franklin 47-14.