The title of the article can be interpreted several ways. In this situation though we are going to take a look at High School wrestling in Indiana, and it is in fact classless. One division, all athletes compete with one another in their respective weight classes for the ultimate prize, standing atop the podium at the end of the season. One Class, One Champion.
This past weekend the Indiana High School Athletic Association and Conseco Field house hosted the 73rd individual State finals in wrestling. If you haven’t been fortunate enough to witness the event in person it is certainly an activity that you simply must put on your bucket list. Athletes from all walks of life meet as equals, the only difference among them being the skill level that they have attained after immersing themselves into the sport from as early as elementary school, and in some situations even before that. The setting is almost magical, the two wrestlers at each weight who meet in the finals are introduced to the over 10,000 spectators in a spectacular fashion. All of the lights are doused except for a single spotlight illuminating each competitor as they are introduced. These are no simple introductions mind you. The reading of the laundry list of accomplishments that they have achieved is resumes that young and old in the audience dream about.
Once the fans have met all of the duos in the finals, the wrestlers square off with one another under a singular spotlight that illuminates a simple mat in the center of the vast field house.
This season in Indiana the individuals that follow the oldest and greatest sport in history were introduced to new dazzling talents and welcomed familiar faces that have been seen in the same venue for the past three years.
The evening started off with one such introduction, Lawrence North’s young Nathan Boston (TheOpenMat’s #17 Ranked at 103) mesmerized the crowd with his nearly flawless technique while capping off an undefeated freshman season with a 13-3 trouncing of fellow frosh Josh Fuqua (Crown Point). 112 pounds hosted an impressive list of names that have been recognized on the National scene for quite sometime. 3 out of the 4 wrestlers have been at one time or another in TOM’s national rankings. Junior Cody Phillips (Union County) perhaps the most recognized name (TOM’s #3 at 112) fell in the semi-finals to Warsaw’s Junior Jarred Brooks (TOM Honorable Mention) 5-2. While on the top side of the Bracket another TOM honorable mention Hanover Central’s Junior Paul Petrov met the fourth young man on the list, Pendleton Heights Junior Mason Todd. Todd prevailed in that match 3-2 and then went on to claim the top spot by blanking Brooks in the final 3-0. This young man is certainly on the national radar now, at Semi-State the weekend before he dealt previously mentioned Cody Phillips his first loss in High School 7-3! At 119 pounds all seemed right with the world as two Junior wrestlers that boasted a combined record of 105-0 met in the finals. It took Kyle Ayersman (Lake County) overtime and overcoming a bit of adversity to defeat New Castle’s Junior Brenden Campbell 10-8.
At 125 pounds Junior Jared McKinley (Perry Meridian) treated the spectators to a vicious headlock that resulted in a fall in the first period against Roncalli’s Senior Josh Kieffer. Josh will be wrestling for the University of Indianapolis next season. Sophomore sensation Neal Molloy (Danville) completed a dominate run in the state series 1 point shy of a major in his victory over Senior Colin Crume of Jimtown (8-1). By winning Molloy became the first wrestling state champion from Danville High School. 135 was another treat for wrestling fans. When the semi-final brackets were complete they housed familiar faces. Indian Creeks’s Senior Ethan Raley (TOM’s #6 135) advanced after beating TOM honorable mention Roncalli’s Justin Kieffer, 6-3. While on the top-side of the bracket another TOM honorable mention Junior Devon Jackson (Yorktown) topped Penn High School Senior Alex Gregory 4-3. The resulting finals match didn’t disappoint with this season’s Super-32 champ Raley winning an exciting tilt 5-3. Ethan and Justin will both wrestle in college for the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds.
Nationally renowned Junior Jason Tsirtsis (TOM #2 at 140) won his third State Championship with a thoroughly dominating performance over formally undefeated Senior Phelan Montgomery (Terre Haute South), 15-5. Crown Point Senior Eric Roach (TOM #6 at 145) capped off a stellar final unblemished campaign and recorded his second individual state championship with a 3-1 decision over another impressive senior, Renaldo Weekley of Jeffersonville. Roach will be continuing his wrestling career in college with the Indiana Hoosiers. Twin senior brothers from Castle High School won the next two weight classes. At 152 Doug Welch defeated New Castle’s Junior Conner Mullins 1-0 and at 160 Chad Welch won 3-0 against four time state placer Senior John Sims of Evansville Mater Dei. The Welchâ€™s will continue wrestling in college as well; they have signed to represent the Boilermakers of Purdue University. Another future resident of W. Lafayette and Purdue wrestler won the 171 pound weight class.
Drake Stein (TOM #9 at 171) of Princeton carried his perfect 45-0 record into the finals against another Senior who had yet to taste defeat. South Dearborn’s 33-0 Nick Manning dropped the bout to Stein 4-1 but during his run he turned many of the heads in attendance. At the same weight a junior from Delphi, Tanner Lynde was another who impressed many with his third place finish finalizing his single-loss campaign.
When the bracket was released of the 189 pound weight class many wrestling pundits believed the lower semi-final bracket was basically the State Final Championship match. It really wasn’t surprising either as it contained the triple-crown winning sophomore from Fishers Mitch Sliga (TOM #5 at 189) and Indian Creek Senior Aaron Stevenson (TOM #9 at 189). The first period of this clash found them in a wicked scramble which initially had Stevenson in a dangerous situation, he quickly turned the tables though with a five-point move that actually had the official slapping mat for a pin moments after time ran out. The resulting two stanzas played out as one would expect with this caliber of combatants. The final score was 7-2 for Stevenson. At this point the vast majority of those at Conseco had penciled the Indian Creek Senior as the next State champ, including this writer. Someone forgot to tell his opponent that the result was a foregone conclusion though as senior Garrett Goldman (5th at Super-32) of Bloomington North shocked many in and out of the Field house with a 2-1 overtime win. Stevenson has plans to join the Kieffer twins and Raley as a Greyhound at U. of Indianapolis. At press time I hadn’t verified Goldman’s plans for wrestling at the next level but his father is Indiana University wrestling Head Coach Duane Goldman so one would believe that is a possibility.
215 pounds found another Indian Creek wrestler in the finals. Senior Trey Reese pinned every one of his opponents including Perry Meridian’s Senior Logan Cooper who he met in the finals. The big fellas closed out the evening with a, wait for it…..surprise surprise, an overtime decision. Senior Damon Howe of Plymouth and Culver Community’s Senior Jeremiah Harvey met in this match with Harvey prevailing for the 3-1 OT win.
That closes out a tremendous individual season of Indiana High School wrestling. How long is it until next season begins? Thank goodness for Freestyle and Greco!
The complete brackets for the 2010-11 Individual brackets can be found here … http://www.ihsaa.org/dnn/Portals/0/Boys%20Sports/Wrestling/2010-11/1011StateBrackets.pdf
TheOpenMat will be hosting it’s first Five Star Clinch Gear Camp in Indiana this coming summer at St. Josephs June 12-17th. This camp is like no other that is available, learn more at: www.camp.theopenmat.org