BRUSLY — Before the two toe the line in the center of the mat, best friends Brennen Landry and Devin Bazinet have to make one thing clear.
“We have to be enemies on the mat instead of friends,” the two agree.
Bazinet bested Landry earlier this season 4-3 in the Jacob McMillan Invitational but Landry, a North Vermillion sophomore, avenged the loss beating his friend with a heart-pounding 4-2 decision in the 138-pound final of the Brusly Invitational on Saturday.
Bazinet, a Basile junior, and Landry met two years ago at a summer camp and have remained close friends since, even when they’re forced to meet on the mat.
Saturday, though, Landry almost gave a gift to his friend.
He was whistled for two technical violations in the third period for locking hands on top. With just under a minute left in the match, a third technical violation on Landry would have awarded Bazinet two points, tying the match and sending it to overtime.
“Devin’s my best friend, and I know how he wrestles,” Landry said. “I knew if I would have locked hands, it would have gone to overtime and he probably would have taken me down and beaten me. I’m pretty glad I didn’t.”
“For him to be in a finals match, it’s a different feeling,” North Vermillion coach Michael Stelly said. “He’s going to make mistakes. He’s only a sophomore.”
The Patriots took fourth in the 22-team field, only 291/2 points out of second place. Though his team didn’t field a full lineup because of two injured wrestlers, Stelly said the tournament, seen by many as a precursor for the Division III state tournament, gave him a clear understanding of what his team needs to work on.
“I’m pretty happy with what most of the kids did,” Stelly said. “Obviously we’ve got a month to get some stuff done, and we’ll get it. But this is a good thing because it’s a benchmark for where we are.”
Tournament host and three-time defending state champion Brusly pulled away late to take the title, though it was also without a full compliment of wrestlers.
Panthers coach Jimmy Bible said though injuries and attrition have his team’s numbers smaller than usual, the quality across his lineup is strong.
“To do this with missing all these weight classes and having starters out, it was surprising to me,” Bible said.
Brusly had four tournament champions, the most of any team in the field, spearheaded by Kendon Lee, who needed just 2:24 to pin De La Salle’s Glenn Gebo in the 132-pound final. North Vermillion added another champion as Simon Sundy pinned Kaplan’s Nigel Pascual in 2:23 in the 170-pound final.