2019-02-08 / Sports

Skyhawks are State Champs!

Story and Photos by Mike Maddock


The Hammond Skyhawks, 2018-2019 SCISA Wrestling State Champions (l-r): Front row-Jaden Kline (106, 6th), Harper Meacham (126, So.), Luke Martin (106, 6th), Drew Turner (170, Sr.), Logan Sheppard (132, Sr.), Graham Friesner (106, 6th), Reed Friesner (120, Fr.), Sam DuBose (113, 8th), Leo Addeo (120, Fr.), and James Lay (113, 6th); Back row-Coach Blake Tillman, Coach Aaron Pettry, Ryan Kane (145, So.) Henry Cole (285, Soph.) Jamison Phillips (195, Jr.), Zavier Harrison (138, Sr.), Aiden Palisin (152, Fr.), Jake Lalumondier (195, Jr.), Owen Hales (182, So.), Head Coach Austin Hood, and Coach Daniel Miller. The Hammond Skyhawks, 2018-2019 SCISA Wrestling State Champions (l-r): Front row-Jaden Kline (106, 6th), Harper Meacham (126, So.), Luke Martin (106, 6th), Drew Turner (170, Sr.), Logan Sheppard (132, Sr.), Graham Friesner (106, 6th), Reed Friesner (120, Fr.), Sam DuBose (113, 8th), Leo Addeo (120, Fr.), and James Lay (113, 6th); Back row-Coach Blake Tillman, Coach Aaron Pettry, Ryan Kane (145, So.) Henry Cole (285, Soph.) Jamison Phillips (195, Jr.), Zavier Harrison (138, Sr.), Aiden Palisin (152, Fr.), Jake Lalumondier (195, Jr.), Owen Hales (182, So.), Head Coach Austin Hood, and Coach Daniel Miller. Down one of their best wrestlers and facing one of the most competitive fields in years, the Hammond Skyhawks claimed their first SCISA State Wrestling Championship since 2013 by dominating Augusta Christian (60-22), squeaking by Ben Lippen (40-39), and beating rival Heathwood Hall 39-32 in the final at the state duals tournament held at Ben Lippen Saturday, February 2.


Hammond 182 Owen Hales (top) tries to flip Heathwood Hall’s Henry Kimbrough. Hammond 182 Owen Hales (top) tries to flip Heathwood Hall’s Henry Kimbrough. Hammond head coach Austin Hood was without the services of last year’s 138-pound weight class state champion Logan Sheppard.

“Logan has been suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome,” Hood said. “As much as Logan wanted to wrestle, he knew he physically couldn’t do it. He has been in the practice room every day, in the young kids’ ears, watching film...basically an extra coach. When he is able, he has practiced and wrestled, and when he is sidelined, he finds a way to contribute. Watching Leo (Addeo) and Harper (Meacham) step up in his absence is a testament to Logan’s leadership and the character of this team.”

In the final, senior captain Drew Turner got Hammond on the board first as Heathwood forfeited the 170-pound weight class. Owen Hales made it a 12-0 lead for the Skyhawks with a second period pin at 182.


Hammond’s Henry Cole (top) and Heathwood Hall’s Jackson Avery battle at 285. Hammond’s Henry Cole (top) and Heathwood Hall’s Jackson Avery battle at 285. Jamison Phillips and Mills Clark followed with forfeit wins at 195 and 220, respectively.

Heathwood Hall 285 Jackson Avery then built a 4-0 lead on Hammond’s Henry Cole, but Cole fought back to get a pin 30 seconds into the second period giving the Skyhawks a 30-0 advantage.

“The comeback was huge,” Hood said. “Henry Cole weathered a flurry of offense from Jackson Avery and was able to get that snap down front head lock position late to pick up the victory.”

Hammond 106 Luke Martin was able to outlast Will Buffum for a 6-0 win giving the Skyhawks another three points and a 33-0 lead, which seemed commanding, but the heart of the Highlanders’ line-up was still to come.


Hammond 106 Luke Martin (top) tries to turn Heathwood Hall’s Will Buffum. Hammond 106 Luke Martin (top) tries to turn Heathwood Hall’s Will Buffum. Heathwood Hall 113 Pierce Avery finally got the Highlanders on the board with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Sam DuBose. Jake Clarkson followed that with a first period pin at 120 to cut the Heathwood deficit to 33-9.

With momentum shifting and last year’s 120 state champion, Myles Roberts, taking the mat at 126 for the Highlanders, Hood turned to one of Sheppard’s proteges, Leo Addeo.

“Leo is a tough young wrestler,” Hood said. “He was 23-10 overall and 10-1 in SCISA at that point only losing a decision to Cardinal Newman’s Dyllan Gorrin at 120. This is only his second season wrestling, but he is a tough out for everyone. We liked how Leo matched up with Myles.”

Roberts had a 2- 0 lead after one period, but Addeo hit a five- point throw at the end of the second and turned a late switch into another five points to win the match 12-7 and give Hammond a 36-9 lead.


Hammond’s Leo Addeo (r) and Heathwood Hall’s Myles Roberts try to throw each other at 126. Hammond’s Leo Addeo (r) and Heathwood Hall’s Myles Roberts try to throw each other at 126. “He put Harper (Meacham) in position to win it all for us with four matches to go, and that was a really good feeling,” Hood said.

Meacham then found himself tied 2- 2 with Heathwood 132 Mac Merritt with one period to go, but he got a takedown late to win 4-2 and secure the title for Hammond giving the Skyhawks an insurmountable advantage at 39-9.

The Highlanders kept fighting getting a first period pin by AJ Kuse at 138, a 14-3 win by Darius Bates at 152, and forfeit wins by Reagan Olsen and Minh Dang at 145 and 160, respectively, for the final 39-32 count.

“This was a special group,” Hood said of his Skyhawks. “The way they treat each other is remarkable. The team leans on Drew Turner as our leader, and he does an excellent job balancing sixth-12th grade personalities. He has such a big heart for the sport and his teammates; it is infectious.”



Hammond’s Harper Meacham (back) tries to keep Heathwood Hall’s Mac Merritt from escaping. Hammond’s Harper Meacham (back) tries to keep Heathwood Hall’s Mac Merritt from escaping.

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