photo courtesy of UIndy Athletics
The University of Indianapolis
Head Coach Jason Warthan 11th season
Previous Team Previews
If you follow the sport of wrestling at all, you know that the University of Indianapolis has one of the longer-tenured head coaches on staff. They also run one of the toughest tournaments at any Division each year. Their director of wrestling operations is one of the most respected individuals in the sport. Oh, and they have been pretty darn good on the mat. Last season, head coach Jason Warthan led the Hounds to a runner-up finish in their super regional and qualified six wrestlers for the national tournament in Cleveland. Things did not fall their way there, winning only a single match and scoring just 0.5 team points. To say that the season ended in disappointment could be a bit of an understatement.
There is hope for a rebound in 2019 though, mostly because last season was such an aberration. This was the first season for Warthan without an All-American since 2010 and as he is a model of consistency I expect the Hounds to have two or three fighting for the podium this year. The schedule they wrestle should prepare them on a year-by-year basis to be ready for the competition at the national tournament. Last season, there were weights at the Midwest Classic that were tougher than at the national tournament, in my opinion. With a lineup that could see as many as five underclassmen, the Hounds are a great blend of experience and youthful exuberance. Even if Indianapolis cannot get their two transfers onto the mat this season because of the rules, I expect this team to fight for a team trophy at their Super Regional and put athletes onto the podium in Sioux Falls.
125: #8 (@133) Ana Abduljelil (R-Jr) Columbus, OH
I ranked Ana Abduljelil as the eighth-best 133 wrestlers in the nation after qualifying for his second trip to the national tournament. It sounds like we may see him return to 125 pounds where he qualified for the national championship as a freshman. Last season Abduljelil defeated All-American Hunter Bray (Notre Dame) and he has scored some significant victories in his career. He is an All-American level athlete who has excelled on the mat and in the classroom for coach Warthan. The three-time Ohio state placer is going to try to add an All-American finish to his resume and if he can hold the weight and navigate a loaded weight class, he will have a great shot at it.
133: Ty Tucker (So) Versailles, KY
Kentucky may not get a lot of love on the national high school ranking boards, but Ty Tucker is showing that he is a college competition-ready athlete. The Kentucky state champion had a strong freshman season going 14-6, including 3-0 in duals to finish the year. His six falls show he can end matches early and with the move of Abjuljelil to 125, there is now a spot for him to shine. The worst thing that could happen at this weight is if they both struggle to start the season and the Hounds have to think about changing the lineup.
141: Matt McKinney (R-Jr) Indianapolis, IN
There is another Hound in the lineup with a win over All-American Hunter Bray on his resume, Matt McKinney accomplished the feat in the 2018 season dual between the two teams. His year was cruising right along last year before a sickness derailed his season. He began his redshirt sophomore year with a 6-1 record including wins over Peter Kuster (Drury) and Jon Moran (Indiana). Indianapolis did snag a transfer from the Hoosiers at this weight, but Breyden Bailey may not clear the NCAA rules to be on the mat. Even if he does, he is going to have his hands full with McKinney. There’s also freshman Sammy Fair at this weight, but he needs some seasoning to challenge McKinney and he wrestled his senior year at 152, which makes this a big cut.
149: Kyle Barkovich (Sr) Lawton, MI
Kyle Barkovich enters his senior season in search of his first trip to the Division II national tournament. There may not be a wrestler in the country with the quality wins that Barkovich has and who has never made nationals. The redshirt junior finished fifth last season in the Super Regional after it looked like he was on a hot streak. He had won six of his last eight matches heading into the tournament. He has been a great Hound and for this team to be successful in 2019, he needs to take that final little step. The senior leader to this lineup, he and Brody Conner are going to have to push some of these younger wrestlers hard.
157: Dawson Combest (R-Fr) Columbus OH
Blaze Lowery (So) Indianapolis, IN
Dawson Combest is another redshirt freshman coming off a strong first year for Indianapolis. He finished 12-6 and was a runner-up at the Greyhound Open. If you are looking at his record for a signature win, Combest hung a 12-2 major decision on national qualifier Faris Messai (Gannon) in November. At 5’8” he is going to have the perfect frame to fill into this weight and become a staple of the lineup under the coaching of Jason Warthan. If Dawson stumbles, the sophomore Blaze Lowery will be more than happy to wrestle in front of his hometown fans. He led the team in pins a season ago with 11.
165: Jack Eiteljorge (R-Fr) Indianapolis, IN
The redshirt freshman from Carmel High School did not lose to a single wrestler not on a Division I roster. Jack Eiteljorge was the “Redshirt of the Year” for the Hounds and as he transitions to a starting role, lookout. He placed in every open he entered and was 8-0 against Division II opponents. For a wrestler who only placed at state once, he has shown a toughness that bodes well for his future. He is also at a wide-open weight class nationally so he could make noise right out of the gate. Indianapolis opens the season at the Kaufman-Brand and follows that up with a trip to the Findlay Open. He is going to see some very good wrestlers right away.
174: Gleason Mappes (So) Greenwood, IN
Zach Fry (R-Jr) Hughesville, PA
Gleason Mappes would not be denied last season. He deserved to be the starter and coach Warthan gave him the 174 reins after winning the Kaufman Brands and NUWAY College Opens. Mappes won his first 11 matches in college and ended up 16-6 overall. As far as bragging rights go, he majored now-teammate Andrew Sams in the Super Regional. Finishing fourth at the regional tournament meant he missed out on a trip to nationals, but he should be poised to make it this season. If Zach Fry can remain injury-free, Mappes and Brody Conner may have to wrestle-off with him to keep their spots. Coach Warthan sees him as one of the most gifted athletes on the team and the four-time Pennsylvania state qualifier just needs to stay on the mat to show it. If you are wondering why transfer Andrew Sams is not in the mix, due to conference rules, he will need to sit for a year.
184: #9 Brody Conner (Sr) Paw Paw, MI
Zach Fry (R-Jr) Hughesville, PA
The ninth-ranked Brody Conner will join Barkovich as a senior leader of this team. The returning national qualifier has just one season to exorcise the national tournament demons of 2018-19. I am assuming that the mascot for Paw Paw, Michigan is the Bears for no other reason than the awesome cartoon from my youth and if that is the case, then he just needs to channel his inner animal and crush the competition. Conner has 65 career wins over his three years as a starter and the only knock I can make against him is consistency. When he is wrestling well, he is one of the best at the weight, but he has taken some head-scratching losses including last season.
197: Cayden Whitaker (R-Jr) Martinsville, IN
Cayden Whitaker is expected to be the starter at 197 for the Hounds. It seems crazy for the young man who finished third at the Midwest Classic last season at 174 to be making a 23-pound jump, but as one of the most talented wrestlers on the team, it could be just what the doctor ordered. The two-time Indiana state placer seems to get better every year he is on the mat. He has a record of 23-9 as a backup and a spot starter for Indianapolis and getting him into the lineup was obviously a priority. 197 returns 11 national qualifiers which means he is going to be challenged, but I think wrestlers often have an easier time going up weight classes than down.
Hwt: Jack Williams (So) Carmel, IN
Dylan Hinton (R-Fr) Elmwood, OH
Gone is the incredible Dylan Faulkenberg who manned this spot so ably for the Hound the last few seasons. In his place, we will probably see heavyweight by committee. There is the old adage from college football if you have two quarterbacks you have no quarterbacks. If you have two heavyweights, you just might not have a heavyweight. Hinton finished his redshirt season 9-9, but only 2-3 against Division II opponents. The Ohio state runner-up as a senior was a pinner in high school so coach Warthan may be hoping for big team points in duals from him. Jack Williams finished 4-10 against Division II wrestlers and just 8-13 overall. The most glaring argument against him being the starter is the eight falls he gave up, in a dual that type of point swing is a killer.