ELKHART — It was an idea conceived by Jim Nicholson, Dave Kratzer and Brent Lea decades ago.
After attending many tournaments and having a few wrestlers advance to the finals while others went two-and-out and sat around for the rest of the day, Memorial High School coaches Nicholson and Kratzer, with input from then-LaSalle coach Lea, decided that a different kind of wrestling event was needed for the Crimson Chargers and other teams.
So the Charger Invitational came to be.
On Saturday, the 30th edition of the tournament (renamed in 2007 as the Jim Nicholson Charger Invitational after the death of the Indiana Wrestling Hall of Famer) was staged in the Memorial fieldhouse. Penn was the winner with 282 points — 83 more than runner-up Memorial. Jimtown senior 126-pounder Nick Crume was voted as tournament MVP.
Not like a traditional bracketed tournament, each competitor in an eight-man bracket is scheduled to have bouts against five different opponents. The one with the best record (tiebreakers are used if necessary) wins the weight class.
“It’s really pretty easy,” said Memorial head coach Brian Pfeil. “All the coaches understand that you have to separate the four best people (through seeding.
“As the day goes on, the better wrestlers move to the top and wrestlers that aren’t as good move to the bottom.”
Each individual match is scored like a dual meet — with six points for a pin, five for a technical fall and so on — and advancement points are added at the end of the day.
Pfeil, who was an assistant at Memorial for Brian Seltzer the past 12 seasons, was one of four first-year Elkhart County head coaches. The others are Zach Whickcar at Concord, Justin Rockenbaugh at Concord and Eric Highley at Northridge.
The mat philosophy has not changed with Pfeil in charge in the Chargers’ wrestling room.
“We still don’t cut a lot of weight,” said Pfeil. “It’s all position wrestling and conditioning. It’s who can staying in position and out-condition the other one that is going to score the most points to win.”
Like Whickcar, Rockenbaugh and Highley, Pfeil has had to take on more responsibility in coordinating practices and assistant coaches and keeping track of things like state weight-in sheets.
Whickcar, a 2006 Central graduate and former Blue Blazer wrestler, has been helping the Central program since his high school days, the last two as a full-time assistant on the staff of Chuck Bower, who is now an assistant to Whickcar.
“The coaching part is the same,” said Whickcar. “(The difference is) team management. There is tournament direction, promotional orders and all that stuff that I didn’t realize. It’s a big adjustment. But I’m enjoying it.”
Rockenbaugh, a 1990 Concord graduate who wrestled for Hall of Fame coach Brian Arbogast, got involved with the Minutemen program toward the end of last season as a volunteer.
He comes to the team, which includes his son (junior Michael Rockenbaugh), with enthusiasm.
“It’s my heart and passion for the sport, for this team and for this school that bring me to this job,” said Rockenbaugh, who runs a small counter top company when not coaching. “We’ve had some speed bumps along the way (so far this season). I’ve got some tough wrestlers on the team with a lot of heart and I’m proud of them. They have a ton of potential.”
Highley comes to Northridge after six years as a high school assistant and junior high coach at NorthWood, where Rod Lone had been the head coach. Before that, Highley helped at Huntington North and Benton Central (when Brad Harper was head coach).
“There’s a lot more paperwork, but it’s fun,” said Highley of the transition from assistant to head coach. “I’m enjoying it a lot.”
Jim Nicholson Charger Invitational
Team scores: Penn 282, Memorial 199, Jimtown 178, SB Riley 134, Huntington North 107, Northridge 105, Central 73, Concord 52.5.
(Champions 5-0 Unless Noted)
106 — 1st, Drew Hildebrandt (P); 2nd, Eugene Moody-Neukom (M); 3rd, Jaloni Strong (R); Grayden Kelley (J). Forfeits — Central, Northridge, Huntington North, Concord.
113 — 1st, DeLawrence Gayfield (Co); 2nd, Dakota Cochran (P); 3rd, Jake Egnor (Ce); 4th, Jared Barney (R); 5th, Johnny Attkisson (M); 6th, Sara Martin (J). Forfeits — Huntington North, Northridge.
120 — 1st, Zach Davis (P); 2nd, Konner Chafin (J); 3rd, Tony Vaughn (M); 4th, Todd Santiago (N). Forfeit — Huntington North, Riley, Concord, Central.
126 — 1st, Nick Crume (J); 2nd, Jacob Parks (P); 3rd, Devin Puckett (N); 4th, Codey Flickinger (M); 5th, Alex Beal (HN); 6th, Cris McCormick (R). Forfeits — Concord, Central.
132 — 1st, Josh Curcio (P) 4-1; 2nd, Tanner Shipley (HN); 3rd, Scott Warner (R); 4th, Jermel Moody-Neukom; 5th, Cody Koebel (J); 5th, Jacob Mausar (Ce). Forfeits — Northridge, Concord.
138 — 1st,. Jared Curcio (P); 2nd, Ryan Baxter; 3rd, Marquis Schieber (J); 4th, Phillip Mathiak (M); 5th, Bailey Shockome (HN); 6th, Rzeveon Teague (R). Forfeits — Concord, Central.
145 — 1st, Joey Mammolenti (P); 2nd, Eric Blodgett (M); 3rd, Kyle Jolas (HS); 4th, Nick Edwards (Ce); 5th, Damen Jackson (J); 6th, LeAndro Rodriguez (Co). Forfeits — Northridge, Riley.
152 — 1st, Trevor Manspeaker (P); 2nd, Chris Morris (M); 3rd, Cameron Weiss (J); 4th, Tim Deters (N); 5th, Exer Alonso (R); 6th, Elliott Keller (Co); 7th, Anthony Hardman (Ce). Forfeit — Huntington North.
160 — 1st, Chase Hack (R); 2nd, Chase Osborn (P); 3rd, Johnny Tredway (Ce); 4th, Nick Vaughn (M); 5th, Levi Benton (N); 6th, Chandler Updike (HN). Forfeits — Concord, Jimtown.
170 — 1st, Tommy Kendall (M); 2nd, Jeff Wiseman (P); 3rd, James Malone (R); 4th, John Hurtt (J); 5th, Dakota Plasterer (HN); 6th, Joey Solis (N); 7th, Jared Tucker (Ce); 8th, Dylan Westfall (Co).
182 — 1st, Tanner Adams (J); 2nd, Kain Jenkins (M); 3rd, Mike Chaffee (P); 4th, Jakari Welch (Co); 5th, Dylan Swank (N); 6th, Sean Reynolds (HN); 7th, Gambino Perez (R). Forfeit — Central.
195 — 1st, Tieshawn Johnson (M); 2nd, Joey Stasiak (P); 3rd, Layne Emery (HN); 4th, Carter Gill (J). Forfeits — Northridge, Concord, Central, Riley.
220 — 1st, Jacob Huys (R); 2nd, Eliseo Guerra (Ce); 3rd, Chris Connell (N); 4th, Cory Christman (P); 5th, Cody Spurgeon (J); 6th, Kody Gerger (M); 7th, Tyler Wilson (Co). Forfeit — Huntington North.
Hwt — 1st, Clayton Stohler (P); 2nd, Shawn Renz (HN); 3rd, Will Johnson (J); 4th, Lucas Wickey (N); 5th, Brian Shaw (R); 6th, Dustin Roberts (M); 7th, Nate Brokamp (Ce). Forfeit — Concord.
MVP: Nick Crume (Jimtown).
Next: Memorial at Central, Concord at Wawasee, Jimtown at SB Washington, each Tuesday; Goshen at Northridge, Marian at Penn, both Thursday.