As with any other sport, wrestling has two seasons: the regular season and the postseason. But only in wrestling do the rules change: Gone are the 14 one-on-one matches, replaced by the collective effort of 14-man teams.
Saturday's New Haven Sectional will be a perfect example as favorites Leo and Snider will compete, mostly indirectly, for the title. In other words, the best wrestlers for both teams will rarely face off.
It makes Leo's early December dual-meet victory almost meaningless.
"Leo is a very good team and they beat us (in a dual)," said Snider coach Dave Mohr. "But the great thing about the tournament is it's based on a team's overall strength. We both have great wrestlers, but who has more depth and will win more matches?"
Mohr said this Wednesday night at Woodlan High School while watching Leo dominate the ACAC Tournament. Of course, this was only five days after his Snider squad did the same at the SAC tourney.
"Both teams have a lot in common," Mohr said. "We both have four or five really solid seniors and then a bunch of young guys who are eager and maybe overly anxious to prove themselves. It's going to be a great tournament."
When told of Mohr's comments moments later, Leo coach Zach Dommer concurred.
"There are a lot of great individuals in the meet," Dommer said, "so it's going to comedown to who can advance the most guys. Both of us will win our share of individual titles, but it will be about who gets the most thirds and fourths."
When asked about the regular-season dual meet between the two schools, Dommer quickly pointed out one major element:
"We won by maybe 12, but they didn't have (Erique) Early. So, we're pretty even now."
As Mohr said, the two teams are led by seniors. Snider has Early (126), Bobby Humphrey (132) and Dustin Wells (152). Early is the Panthers' lone No. 1 seed, and Humphrey and Wells are two of the team's five No. 2seeds.
"We had a midseason slump, I think, after Erique was hurt and then I was out," Humphrey said. "But we are doing a lot better lately. We are improving a lot right now."
Leo has three No. 1 seeds and three No. 2 seeds and is led by seniors David Hepler (No. 1 at 152), Aaron Eicher (No. 2 at 170) and Bryce Hager (No. 1 at 285).
"We really like our seedings," Hager said. "We think we have a great shot at winning."
No. 13 Chargers have 8 top seeds
Host Carroll is a heavy favorite if for no other reason than its eight No.1 seeds. Columbia City, with three top seeds, is the only other team with more than one. The Chargers, who won the NHC Tournament Wednesday night, are ranked No.13 in the final coaches poll and are very strong in the upper weights. Carroll wrestlers are seeded No. 1 in four of the final five weightclasses beginning with Tristan Wilson (32-1) at 170. Corey Rickman (195), Brad Sadilek (220) and Ammon Carr (285) complete the lineup.